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All about the Instagram Algorithm

Feb 27, 2020

The mystical Instagram algorithm.

That thing we don’t quite understand that seemingly favours someone else’s posts over yours, giving them all the glory and leaving you out in the cold. That intangible thing and we spend hours trying to figure out how to trick. Or game. Or just get to work in our favour!

If you’re not already following the Instagram Creators account, do it now. It’s an official account for the platform, for the purpose of helping you create! It really is a great source of inspiration, advice and information.

Recently the Creators account ran a FAQ series in their stories and filled us in on the truth behind some of the biggest algorithm questions and misconceptions.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Instagram Algorithm

Q: How often do you change the algorithm?

A: Because it’s powered by machine learning, Instagram’s feed ranking is constantly adapting and improving based on new data.

Q: Does the type of account you have impact ranking?

A: No, we do not favour posts from businesses or verified accounts in Feed. If you interact with that content more, of course, it is more likely to appear at the top of your feed.

Q: Does Feed ranking favour videos over photos?

A: We don’t universally favour photos over videos. Your feed is customised for you, so it really depends on how you use Instagram. If you consistently watch a lot of videos, that will be reflected in your feed.

Q: We hear that pods (i.e. groups of people who agree to like and comment on each others’ posts) can help a post appear higher in a feed?

A: Authenticity and transparency are key to building sustainable engagement on Instagram. Trying to game the system may provide a short-term benefit, but it is not a recipe for success long term. In addition, Instagram’s feed ranking is powered by machine learning, which is constantly adapting to new patterns in data. So it can recognise inauthentic activity and make adjustments.

Q: I’ve heard that the algorithm ranks posts higher that get a lot of likes or comments in the first 30 minutes?

A: False

Q: I’ve heard that Instagram doesn’t count something as a comment unless it’s more than 1/2/3 words?

A: False

 

So there you have it. Straight from the horse’s mouth. Key takeaways for me:

  1. Create content that uses a mix of content types - videos, photos and stories. If content is served to people based on their own specific preferences, you want to caterer for all.

  2. Continue to create authentic, engaging content. The more someone engages with your content, the more of it they will see. So give them a reason to engage!

Were there any surprises in the FAQs for you? Anything you might change about your approach to marketing on Instagram? Let me know in the comments.