More than a year ago, Instagram made a huge change to their algorithm. This change resulted in switches from chronological posts to more relevant posts that users were more likely to engage with.
Many users expressed their discontent with the change, and many advertisers did as well. It was believed that the switch made it more difficult for brands to interact with their audience, and with frequent tweaks still being made to the algorithm it can be hard to know what type of strategy will help or hurt your brand on Instagram.
First, it is crucial to know the key influencing factors that the platform’s algorithm takes into account:
- The relationship between you and the person (or company that) posted the photo: The more that users regularly engage with your content, the more the algorithm will highlight your new content to those interested users.
- Timing: Even though the new algorithm is not in chronological order, Instagram will still take timing into account to make sure that it is showing content that has been posted fairly recently.
- Likes and comments: Although the platform said that the new algorithm will not result in a “popularity contest” it is still making efforts to push content that possesses many different engagement factors such as likes and comments. The more interaction your post receives, the better!
- Direct shares: Instagram will also be taking note of posts that you share with others since this is another type of interaction that clearly shows a user is interested in the content from a particular brand.
- Profile searches: Recent searches will also prompt the platform to suggest new users to follow, or if you currently are following them then even more of their content will be pushed to the top of your feed.
The entire point of each and every one of these factors is engagement. The more that users engage with your content, the more that the algorithm will make sure to update users when new content is available.
Much of the idea behind the algorithm can be related to the same operations of search engines like Google. The most important aspect that Google’s algorithm considers is relevancy. In this same respect, Instagram’s algorithm is trying to ascertain whether or not users will find your content interesting and relevant, which can be judged by how often they show interest in your brand through likes, comments, searches, etc.
When optimizing your content for Instagram, it is absolutely necessary to make it as interactive as possible. Utilizing unique forms of motion based content can help to increase interactions by posting a video, story, or Boomerang.
Adding hashtags to your post can significantly boost its impressions. In fact, Adweek states that adding even one hashtag can increase engagement by an average of 12.6%.
It is also worth including some advertising dollar in your Instagram strategy in order to make certain that your content is being pushed to target users. In light of Facebook’s recent organic content changes, it would not be out of line to suspect that Instagram may also adopt a similar strategy when it comes to sponsored content versus unpaid posts.