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Decoding Instagram's algorithm

Instagram continues to be one of the most important social media platforms out there and it’s more important than ever to understand how it works to be able to connect with your target audience effectively and efficiently.

Decoding Instagram's algorithm

Monday June 25, 2018,

3 min Read

Image Credit: photoroyalty

Image Credit: photoroyalty

On 15 March 2016, the social media giant announced the implementation of algorithmic personalization stating that because of the platform’s massive growth, people were missing 70% of their feed and keeping up with all the posts being shared was becoming difficult. So, in order to ‘improve the experience’, moments that Instagram feels users care about the most would be given priority over others. When Instagram first informed about their new algorithm, they pointed towards the likelihood of a user being interested in a post being of utmost importance in framing their feed. 

The factors taken into account for the prioritization of posts include interest, recency, and relationship. In short, Instagram considers how much a post matters to you, how latest the post is and the relationship you share with the poster, before deciding the sequence of your feed. What does this imply? The more you interact with someone, the more likely you are to see their posts up front. Since every user has a unique interaction pattern, every user has a unique feed order.

Besides the above mentioned three aspects of interest, recency, and relationship, Instagram also takes factors of frequency, following, and usage into account.

The frequency factor considers how often you open the platform and is important as Instagram makes sure you see the best posts from your last visit. In order to make sure you see posts from a range of people, if you follow a lot of people, the following factor is important. And lastly, usage determines whether or not you get to see the less important posts.

An effective engagement in today’s time calls for a strategic Instagram game that’s on point. And for that to happen, it’s essential to take care of the following –

1) Converse. Interact. Engage.

The algorithm is all about factoring interactions. The more a user interacts with your stories, the more likely your posts will show up on their feed. Asking your using to say “DM you” is a great way to drive people to your inbox and hence build relationships that last. Timely responses are the secret to increasing your post’s exposure. Staying on top of your comments, especially within the first few hours are crucial to keeping the post from getting buried. Instagram also factors in how quickly you’re able to engage and how long people spend viewing your post. So, posting during active hours works to your advantage to show how aware and alive you are.

2) Organic. Authentic. Raw

When it comes to Instagram, all that glitters is not always gold. Keep it real and personalized and show users what’s behind those glossy images. Your followers are more likely to engage when the post is relatable and honest. Engaging captions are crucial as they influence the time users to spend on your post. Tell a story or ask a question. Either way, make sure to never compromise on quality.

3) Trends. Experiments. Endeavors

It is more important than ever to keep an eye at new updates and features and to try them out. Since Instagram honors users for trying out new features, it is vital to experiment with your content. After all, discovering new oceans does call for leaving sight of the shore.

Understanding the physiology of the algorithm is the need of the hour as mastering it is crucial to both brands and users. Though a bit tricky, the algorithm once understood is surely not rocket science. Only time will tell where the evolutionary journey will lead the algorithm to in the future. For the time being, tell us in the comments what you think about it!


Ananya Mattu

Social Media Executive @ Guerrillas