See and be seen is the slogan that applies to all social media. Including, of course, on Instagram. The thing is, what the 1 billion Instagram users worldwide see in their feed is not always easy to read.
What is certain is that a chronological order has been history for several years. We explain how the Instagram algorithm works and how you can increase your reach.
What is the algorithm, and how does it work?
Why does the chronological order no longer exist? According to the company, users never saw around 70% of all posts. The reason is obvious: every user has a large number of accounts that he follows. If new pictures and videos can be found every minute, the overview is quickly lost.
The Instagram algorithm assesses what your followers want to see at first sight.
For this reason, Instagram has developed an algorithm whose sophisticated system uses key signals and machine learning to assess what your followers want to see at first glance.
By the way: The algorithm intervenes in the order of the posts to different degrees. This depends on the number of accounts you follow. We present the most important ranking factors and explain what you need to know about them.
Instagram shows its users what they like. Just think about what you often like on Instagram? Alpacas, puppies, cooking recipes, or travel photos – whatever it is, you will see these posts more often thanks to the algorithm.
In addition, Instagram even recognizes whether you prefer to interact with images or videos. And even if a post is not marked with a heart, the platform measures the length of stay in order to be able to present tailor-made suggestions.
Although the chronological order is a thing of the past, the release date has played a more important role since March 2018. The newer, the higher up a post is placed. This is also an important criterion for the algorithm.
It’s not just the number of followers that decides where a user’s post appears in the feed. Otherwise, Taylor Swift would always be first, and your mom, who has posted two pictures of flowers so far, would be at the bottom of your feed.
The algorithm ensures that users see up to 90% of all pictures and videos of friends and family. So the relationship plays an important role; after all, we like pictures of our best friends more often than distant acquaintances and prefer to see stories from our favorite brand than to look at an advertisement that does not interest us.
Frequency of use & usage
Whether and how strongly the algorithm intervenes depends heavily on user behavior. If you scroll through the feed several times a day, you will, of course, usually find the latest at the top.
If, on the other hand, the app is only opened once a day, images may be displayed that are a few days old. The algorithm also measures how long the app has been open and, consequently, which images are likely not to be seen.
Also Read: How to Get on the Instagram Explore Page
Instagram Myths: What’s True and What’s Not?
At the same time, some rumors are surrounding the Instagram algorithm in 2020. Instagram itself has since disproved some of them. What’s wrong with the myths surrounding Instagram marketing?
Videos in front of pictures
In contrast to Facebook, whose algorithm clearly prefers images, Instagram prioritizes purely based on interest. The length of stay is also relevant, which means that videos are still a bit ahead.
“I don’t see everything anymore.”
The algorithm is not designed for posts to be lost. If you scroll long enough, you will still see all the posts. There are a few exceptions, which are entirely up to the user: If you no longer follow an account, you will logically no longer find any images in the feed. Even those who have muted a user can only see the images when they click directly on the profile.
New is always better.
The myth is: if you use a lot of new features (i.e., live videos, stories, etc.), you will appear further up in the feed. That is not right. In fact, the type of content for Instagram only plays a subordinate role. Nevertheless, the new features have a lot of potentials. Those who use them skillfully for storytelling can increase their reach.
The thing with the ads
It would be very nice if the organic range increase was unbeatable. But the more accounts there are, the more competition there is, of course, and the more effort is necessary as a result. If you place ads there, you are definitely not stupid. There is no “blackmail attempt” by Instagram to make users spend even more money.
And yet: just placing advertisements is not enough. An organic and commercial increase in reach is needed, also to get new followers!
Too much is too much.
In the Instagram world, there is often talk of a so-called shadowban. Its purpose is to prevent spammers from leaving tons of posts and comments. In this case, the visibility of the people concerned is severely restricted. But being punished for having too many likes, posts, or hashtags is a myth.
Which does not mean that it is still not necessary to use the available resources consciously? This can mean, for example, only choosing hashtags that are relevant to the content, not publishing too many posts in a row, and of course, not breaking the community rules.
Facebook vs. Instagram: is it the same algorithm?
Instagram has officially been part of Facebook for some time. But can one, therefore, say: Facebook = Instagram? This calculation doesn’t work out. While some factors are similar to the Facebook algorithm, there are also differences.
For example, only the posts of friends are displayed on Instagram, but not posts with which they have interacted. They don’t see the cat video in which your cousin was tagged by his work colleague.
Updates: Algorithm as of 2020
Instagram keeps making important changes to meet the goal of better networking friends with one another. Let’s take a look at the key changes in the algorithm.
March 2018: New, newer, Instagram
March 2018 brought the introduction of a New Posts button, with which it has since been possible to view new posts. A welcome for everyone who missed the chronology.
May 2018: switched to mute
Too many posts? Posts you just don’t care? Since May 2018, you have been able to mute individual profiles. This means that you are still following the profile, but you will no longer see the feed images. This decision, of which the other person has no idea, can be reversed at any time.
Otherwise, Instagram is not idle either. Whether recommended posts or new features designed to increase interaction – updates always mean that you have to readjust yourself on Instagram.
Tips & Tricks: This is how your posts appear at the top of the feed
So what can you do to make the algorithm work for you if it can’t be tricked? The mother of all wisdom is: know your target group.
# 1 Great content
Pictures that have flown across the screen a hundred times, boring captions with hashtags that don’t match – your profile shouldn’t look like this. Instead, the motto is storytelling: capture the reader’s interest in the captions. If these are unfolded and read, you have already won.
# 2 Great pictures
Publish what has never been seen before. Create highlights, and take a new perspective. The twentieth burger photo in the feed will probably elicit no more than a tired smile; the company outing with Bubble Ball Boomerang, on the other hand, can underline your company’s image.
# 3 Great long
Content that is too long or videos that are too detailed can, of course, be boring, but several pictures in a slideshow or videos that are really well done can increase the length of stay and are, therefore, good advice for everyone who wants their posts to be at the top of the feedback.
# 4 Timed great
Use the Instagram Insights of your business account to find out when your followers are most often online and post at these times. It pays off!
# 5 great hashtags
The hashtags we have already addressed. It is a fine art to incorporate hashtags into body texts so that your posts are found and convey relevance, but are not too much. Find out about popular hashtags like #tbt or #photooftheday, but you can also find hashtags that perfectly fit your company. And not least because there has been the option of following individual hashtags for some time.
# 6 Great interaction
And last but not least: the call-to-action. Get your users to interact, but not with the crowbar method, but as subtly as possible. Riddles like, “Well, where are we today?” Have proven particularly useful. Other options are competitions, which should work primarily through comments (“Who would you like to spend a weekend with in Hamburg?”), Surveys or an invitation to an exchange of views.
One more important tip at the end: You can also encourage your users to turn on notifications so they can see each of your posts immediately. This is very easy to do with the three dots next to one of your posts. And now? All that remains is to try it out!