The Instagram Algorithm(S) Update!

 

… And How It Affects Your Business.

We’ve all heard the constant rumours that the Instagram Algorithm has changed! But, what does this actually mean and how can we use “The Algorithm” to our advantage as business owners? Don’t fret! We’re here to make sure you’re all up to date on what’s going on!

“The Algorithm” is one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding the use of Instagram. In fact, Instagram has finally announced a deep dive into how “The Algorithm” actually works! It’s revealed how it decides what to show you first, why some posts get more views than others and more!

According to Instagram there actually isn’t one algorithm. In fact, multiple algorithms, classifiers and processes do. They each serve their own purpose in creating a feed that ranks posts based on what you care about most.

Each part of the app – Feed, Explore, Reels – uses its own algorithm tailored to how people use it. So Instagram ranks things differently in different parts of the app, based on how people use them. We’ll further how each part of the app is ranked in the next few sections!

FEED & STORIES

Instagram realised that Feed and Stories are where people go to find content from their closest friends and family. Therefore, Instagram revealed the following steps the Algorithm follows to rank the content you see in your feed and stories. These are:
Recent posts shared by the people you follow, with some exceptions (like ads)
Information about the post (signals how popular the post is)
Information about the account who posted (how interesting the person might be to you, signals about how much you’ve interacted with the account)
Your activity (signals how many posts you’ve liked to show what you might be interested in)
Your history of interacting with someone (signals like if you’re actually commenting on someone’s post to indicate interest)
THEN comes the fun part. Instagram makes a series of predictions, like an ‘educated guess’. There are roughly 12 ways you could interact with a post according to Instagram. Instagram looks at whether you spend time on a post, comment, like, save it and tap on the profile photo. The most likely you are to do that, the more they improve the ranking!

WHAT TO AVOID

Sharing too much: Instagram will try to avoid showing too many posts from the same person in a row! e.g. If you have a small following and are posting multiple times a day- you’re probably being hidden by the algorithm to avoid spamming! Take a break from all that content & watch the algorithm serve you up again.

Spreading misinformation: If you post something that the third-party fact-checkers label as misinformation Instagram won’t take it down, but they apply a label that has your content pushed further down the ranking. If you’ve published this multiple times, all of your content may be harder to be found!

THE EXPLORE PAGE

Instagram has revealed that the Explore Page was designed to help you discover new things. The grid is made up of recommendations – photos and videos specifically found for you from accounts you don’t follow already – which is very different from Feed and Stories, where the vast majority of what you see is from the accounts you follow. To decide what to show- the algorithm looks at signals to determine what you’ve previously liked, saved & commented on in the past. The steps taken follow this order:
Info about the post (how popular a post seems to be. Signals like how many and how quickly other people are liking, commenting, sharing and saving a post) These matter MORE in explore than they do in Feed & Stories.
Your history of interacting with the person/account who posted (in the off chance you have interacted with them- how interested you were in their content)
Your activity (signals like what posts you’ve liked, saved or commented on and how you’ve interacted with posts in Explore in the past)
Information about the person who posted (signals like how popular that person has been in the past few weeks. This helps pull content from a wide range of people)

WHAT TO AVOID

Going against Instagram’s Recommendations Guidelines: Generally anything offensive or against these guidelines won’t be seen. So if you want to be seen in the Explore feed (and seen by MORE people) avoid content that goes against these content recommendations- which you can find here!

THE REELS FEED

Reels are designed to entertain you. Therefore, much like Explore, the majority of what you see is from accounts you don’t follow. Instagram goes through a very similar process where they first source reels they think you might like, and then order them based on how interesting they may be to you. The focus is more on entertainment, as Instagram conducts surveys and leans more toward favouring smaller creators.

The MOST IMPORTANT predictions come from how likely you are to watch a Reel the whole way through. *MIC DROP MOMENT* This includes whether you go all the way through and save the audio to use it yourself.

Reels are ranked by:

Your activity (which Reels you’ve liked, commented on and engaged with recently. These are the signals that show Instagram which content is relevant to you)
Your history of interacting with the person/account who posted (in the off chance you have interacted with them- how interested you were in their content)
Info about the Reel (signals about the Reel like the audio track, video learning based on quality and popularity)
Info about the person who posted (signals like how popular that person is. This helps pull content from a wide range of people

WHAT TO AVOID

Going against Instagram’s Recommendations Guidelines: The same goes for Reels as the Explore page! Generally anything offensive or against these guidelines won’t be seen. So if you want to be seen in the Reels feed (and seen by MORE people) avoid content that goes against these content recommendations- which you can find here!

Low-resolution video, watermarked reels (re-sharing directly from TikTok) & political issues: to get more eyeballs on your content!

“SHADOWBANNING”

The term ‘Shadowbanning’ tends to be thrown around a lot by users when Instagram takes down content posted without explanation or users think Instagram has pushed content to the bottom of the algorithm, leading to fewer likes and comments. Instagram has shared that it’s unlikely you’ll consistently reach the same amount of people with each post as most users look at less than half of their feed.

Instagram has also shared that they are working on developing better in-app notifications so people will know why their content has gone against guidelines and been removed!

How You Can Influence What You See…

Now that you’re all packed with knowledge about how the Instagram algorithm actually works- you can use it to your advantage to make sure you’re only seeing the content that you actually care about!

Pick your Close Friends: You can select your close friends for Stories. These will be prioritised in feed and stories!

Mute the people you’re not interested in: You can mute an account if you’d like to stop seeing what they share but are hesitant about unfollowing them entirely. This way, people don’t know you’ve muted them.

Mark recommended posts as “Not Interested”: Whenever you see a recommendation, whether it’s in Explore or in Feed, you can indicate you are not interested in that post and Instagram will try not to show you similar recommendations in the future.

Let me know if this was helpful- I hope this finally cleared the air surrounding the dreaded algorithm!