The Instagram algorithm has been a topic of confusion since the social media giant moved away from a chronological post order in your newsfeed. The switch happened in 2016 to provide users with a more personalised experience. The Instagram algorithm now shows us posts that we might be most interested in first, regardless of the post’s publishing time and date. This can be frustrating to the consumer, as posts with less engagement are lost in favour of celebrities or influential accounts you follow. So how exactly does the Instagram algorithm work, and how can you get your posts in front of your consumers? 

Understanding the algorithm

We first need to understand the algorithm to be able to use it for our advantage. Celebrities and users with popular accounts will often appear at the top of your feed (if you follow them, of course!). This is because their posts include the 6 key factors in favour of the algorithm. These are:

  1. Interest. If you’ve liked a user’s posts in the past, Instagram thinks you’ll probably want to be shown their content in the future. The accounts you interact with the most will be shown first in your Instagram feed. This may include posts you’ve: liked, commented on, or been tagged in.
  2. Relationship. Instagram wants to prioritise posts from your friends, family, and accounts you care about. Instagram pieces together who you may actually know in real life through data about who you search for, who you direct message the most, and whose posts you like frequently. Creepy, right?!
  3. Timeliness. Although Instagram has moved away from the chronological post order, it still considers timeliness important. You may see posts in your feed from 48 hours ago, however, these are likely to rank highly in each of these elements. Therefore, posting at optimised times can ensure your posts are favourable in the algorithm. 
  4. Frequency. An interesting thing about the algorithm is that it monitors how frequently you open the app. If you are a frequent visitor, your feed will be more chronological to reflect the posts that were published since you were gone. However, if you are an infrequent visitor, it will show you posts you may be most interested in, with less regard to timeliness. 
  5. Following. If you follow a large number of accounts, you will be less likely to see every post the accounts publish. This could mean potentially missing your friends posts, as they may not rank as well as the more popular accounts you follow. When you follow less accounts, your feed will be a lot less ‘busy’, and more curated to your taste. 
  6. Usage. The amount of time you spend on each ‘session’ is a factor in determining what posts you see. If you only spend a couple of minutes on the app each day, you will only see the posts that rank highly on each aforementioned element. However, if you spend hours on the app, you’re likely to see it all. We all get sucked in sometimes!

Using the algorithm as a business owner

Our tips for using the Instagram algorithm to your advantage are: 

Post consistently.

This helps with improving your ‘Interest’ score. This doesn’t necessarily mean posting every day. Having a weekly post schedule of at least 2 posts per week can give your audience the chance to interact with your posts. This can help in boosting your popularity. Interactions such as comments, likes, re-shares and video views work best with the algorithm. Need help developing content? Check out our ready-made content packages for physios, osteos and chiros , or our custom solutions for all other industries.

Post at a time when your customers are online.

This helps improve ‘Timeliness’. We recommend posting in commuter times (such as just before and just after business hours). According to stats, 96% of users check social media at home. Therefore, posting at times when consumers are likely to be at home (such as 6-8pm) can ensure you reach consumers in a timely manner as well. 

Delete your ghost followers.

If you’ve ever bought followers or had fake accounts follow your page it’s worth filtering these accounts out. Instagram will see that most of your followers do not engage with your posts. This means the algorithm will be less likely to show your posts to any of your followers. 

Okay, we agree the Instagram algorithm can be confusing at the best of times. However, keeping in mind the six elements – interest, relationship, timeliness, frequency, following and usage – the algorithm can be used to your advantage. Developing a simple posting schedule and posting at popular times can give your posts the best chance at success. Need content and scheduling help? We’re here to help! Follow the link.

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