Every Instagram marketing expert will tell you that the best way to reach more people on Instagram is by boosting your engagement. This is because the Instagram algorithm decides how to show or recommend your content to someone based on ranking signals such as views, likes and comments on your Instagram posts. Once you fully understand how Instagram works, you can apply best practices to your Instagram account and get the best results from your Instagram marketing initiatives.
Instagram is now a full-blown social network with photo, video and messaging services built into the platform. Its daily user and active user bases grow consistently and, for businesses, an active Instagram presence means having the opportunity to attract and nurture new and existing customers.
One of the most important Instagram marketing tips is that the algorithm generally favors posts that utilize the platform’s newest offering. With more and more Instagram for Business features being added to the mix, influencing the Instagram algorithm and staying updated with every Instagram algorithm change is essential to run a successful Instagram marketing strategy.
In this blog, we look at how the Instagram algorithm works and share Instagram optimization tips based on known ranking signals. We also discuss the importance of a targeted social media marketing Instagram approach and show you how an Instagram marketing company can help optimize your Instagram marketing strategies.
Understanding the Instagram Algorithm
As an Instagram user, you’ve probably wondered: Why is the Instagram Story algorithm not showing my content? Did Instagram change its algorithm? In fact, some go so far as accusing Instagram of “shadowbanning” or imposing baseless penalties on their accounts.
This is why Adam Mosseri, Instagram CEO, recently published an article to acknowledge the need to shed light on how Instagram works and provide a better experience for its users. Let’s answer some of the most common questions on the Instagram algorithm based on what Mosseri shared.
What Is the Instagram Algorithm?
A social media algorithm represents a set of rules to determine what content to show a user. It uses machine learning and data points to calculate how relevant a post might be to its prospective audience. Relevant posts and personalized app experiences make users stay on the platform – benefitting Instagram’s potential ad revenue and a business’s source of potential customers.
The most important fact that should heavily influence your Instagram social media marketing strategy is that there is no single Instagram algorithm. Every part of the app – the main Feed, Explore, Stories and Reels – has its own algorithm and processes thousands of signals.
The “calculation” for every part of the app differs according to how the feature works and how people use it. For instance, the Instagram Story algorithm might prioritize followers tagged as “close friends,” but this tag might not affect main Feed posts. What’s more, the Explore page specifically shows recommendations, meaning an Instagram algorithm change that favors accounts you don’t follow is also the norm.
Did Instagram Change Their Algorithm?
Whenever Instagram introduces new features, user behavior shifts, ranking signals change and algorithms alter. Because Instagram will continue to improve experiences on the platform, it’s more about expecting and adapting to the next Instagram algorithm change.
The better question is: Did Instagram change its algorithm recently, or will it do so soon? Mosseri’s recent Twitter announcement gave users a good idea of what’s to come in the coming months.
Here’s an overview of what Instagram is working on:
• Building new experiences in four key areas: creators, video, shopping and messaging
• Strategizing based on research showing that people come to Instagram to be entertained
• Displaying recommendations in Feed from an account a user might not be following yet
• Experimenting with topics to find out what users want to see more or less of
• Addressing the competition and offering immersive, mobile-first video experiences
Account owners must adapt to these changes for better chances of being favored by the algorithm. With these updates in the works, you can expect to focus more on optimizing images for Instagram Shops or video for Instagram full-screen viewing.
Instagram Algorithm Ranking Signals That Affect Your Reach
Instagram uses ranking signals to learn more about what users are interested in and make educated guesses on the posts people are likely to interact with. According to Mosseri, the company will “add and remove signals and predictions over time” to get better at surfacing relevant content.
Here are the four categories of signals that influence how customers discover your business profile on Instagram:
1. Information about your post: your post’s popularity and engagement – likes, shares, comments and saves – and the core elements of your post such as its caption, format (image or video), the time of posting and location tags
2. Your business profile information: who you are, what content you post, what niche you belong to, who owns your Business Account and what content your business engages with
3. Your history of interacting with the user: how long they view your content, how often they interact with your Instagram posts and their actions on your profile
4. The user’s activity: Which accounts they follow, the time of day they are active on Instagram and what type of posts the user tends to engage with
Most Important Signals Ranked By Order of Importance
Mosseri gave insight into what the algorithm focuses on showing in every part of the app. Feed and Stories will heavily lean towards showing users content from people they’re closest to and recent posts shared by people they follow. Explore mainly considers content from people they don’t follow but might be interested in. And Reels prioritizes posts they will find entertaining, “with an eye towards smaller creators.”
He also specified how the ranking signal categories are prioritized:
|Feed and Stories:||Explore:||Reels:|
|1. Information about your post |
2. Your business profile information
3. The user’s activity
4. Your history of interacting with the user
|1. Information about your post |
2. Your history of interacting with the user
3. The user’s activity
4. Your business profile information
|1. The user’s activity|
2. Your history of interacting with the user
3. Information about your post
4. Your business profile information
6 Expert-Approved Instagram Optimization Tips
Knowing what you know about how Instagram works, you can see that keeping an agile social media marketing Instagram strategy is vital, adapting your Instagram marketing strategies using up-to-date Instagram marketing advice and a comprehensive strategy.
Here are 6 critical Instagram optimization tips to improve your account performance:
1. Find Your Niche
Instagram experts will always recommend “niching down.” This means specializing in a specific type of content or being recognized for a particular category. For example, a fast-food restaurant might be known for posting relatable memes or humorous posts, while a luxury bag brand frequently posts photos of its celebrity clients.
When you brand your Instagram account a certain way, it becomes easier for the algorithm to match your content with the people who might enjoy it the most.
2. Create High-Quality and Interactive Content
Your Instagram post is pushed out to a broader audience when people interact with and share it. But you can’t expect users to engage if they’re unimpressed by your post. Did you correctly optimize images for Instagram grids so that interconnected images align perfectly? Did you optimize video for Instagram users who prefer vertical viewing experiences?
Once you’ve optimized the essential elements of your post, Instagram marketing agencies would suggest creating valuable content – and you’re on the right track if it’s “shareable and saveable.” Even better, if you include interactive elements such as a poll or question within your caption, you can drive even more engagement.
3. Maximize Business and Analytics Tools
One of the most critical Instagram for Business features is Shopping. You can tag your products, create collections and make your content even more appealing for your potential customers. You can send them to your website or use the Instagram checkout (for eligible U.S. business and creator accounts), create ads or branded content and, most importantly, track all user activity in your Shop.
Need help? An Instagram marketing service team is good to have on your side: They provide tips and best practices for business owners to maximize Instagram for Business, as well as provide complete analytics data in your Professional Dashboard for you to use in improving your account’s performance.
4. Prioritize SEO for Instagram
Just like how Google reads and ranks your website through search engine optimization (SEO) tactics, Instagram analyzes your profile to figure out who you are. Establishing your identity and staying on-brand will boost your Instagram SEO efforts and increase opportunities for your profile and posts to be found online.
For instance, if your roofing company’s name is Smith and Sons, using your name alone will make it hard to distinguish what you offer. One Instagram SEO best practice is to include your line of business both in your name (Smith and Sons Roofing) and username (@smithandsonsroofing). Using business-related hashtags also contributes to SEO for Instagram, and Instagram marketing services leverage hashtag generators and other tools to increase your online visibility effectively.
5. Instagram Influencer Marketing
Instagram influencer marketing is one of the biggest reasons marketing on Instagram is lucrative. Influencers have conquered their niche and established a loyal following, and have become invaluable for brands. In fact, it’s practically a shortcut to getting the algorithm to work in your favor – influencer marketing associates a popular internet personality’s followers with your target audience and increases your relevance to those types of Instagram users. What’s more, having an influencer mention your brand, tag you in their posts or share your content means gaining direct exposure to potential customers and increasing your engagement instantly.
6. Publish Instagram Posts Regularly
Mosseri said it himself: If you generate engagement continuously, it “helps the algorithm learn more and more about your account.” The more information the algorithm works with, the more relevant you will be to your target audience. Instagram experts recommend “teaching the algorithm” through regular posting.
A content calendar provides the space for you to plan your Instagram post content, finalize your keyword-optimized captions, choose the media formats to use and select the times your audience is most active on Instagram. This vital Instagram social media marketing tool puts all of your Instagram optimization efforts into play.
Marketing on Instagram the Right Way
Alyssa Tear, senior social media manager at Thrive Internet Marketing Agency, said that while Instagram marketing agencies might tell you to focus more on Shop and Reels because that’s the direction Instagram is headed, covering the basics is vital.
“The most important thing is still to use all the content functions Instagram has to offer. The algorithm is changing, but not necessarily user behavior – Instagram users still want to see Feed and Stories,” said Tear. For now, excellent social media marketing Instagram results are earned when businesses maximize all features on the platform but are more aggressive on Instagram’s latest features.
However, every good Instagram marketing agency will emphasize that getting the algorithm to work in your favor is only secondary to making content worth engaging with. An overarching Instagram social media marketing strategy is crucial to achieving every business’s goal of winning more customers.
3 Instagram marketing tips to consider when building your Instagram marketing strategy:
1. Leverage all your digital channels. An Instagram marketing service can help you leverage your digital channels to boost your Instagram campaigns. You can also drive traffic to your Instagram posts from other sources, like displaying your Instagram feed on your website homepage or embedding an Instagram post in a blog post.
2. Study your audience continuously. As you grow your follower count and their preferences change, you need to refresh your understanding of your target audience. You can use your analytics tools to figure out the posts they’re most receptive to and craft the perfect Instagram post based on it. This is key to staying relevant to your potential customers.
3. Stay on-trend. Posting trendy content helps with the “shareability” of your posts, but it also shows your brand’s effort to stay ahead and be among industry leaders. An Instagram marketing service is great for jumping on trends quickly while maintaining your business’s unique character. Platform changes like new features can also influence trends, and you should consider these in your Instagram marketing.
Will static posts communicate your message well or would it be better to hop on the vertical video trend and optimize video for Instagram? Will you focus more on the Instagram Story algorithm or the Reels algorithm? These decisions require a thorough analysis of your Instagram performance and position relative to your competitors. The good thing is that you can rely on an Instagram marketing agency to help you with this.
Get The Help of an Instagram Marketing Company
With an expertly tailored approach to marketing on Instagram, the Instagram algorithm can do its job of feeding your content to the right audience more efficiently. Creating valuable content that is shareable and saveable helps you garner engagement on your posts – and this signals the algorithms to show your content to more of your target audience. The only thing you need to achieve this is a results-driven Instagram marketing strategy backing your efforts.
Instagram marketing agencies can handle your social media marketing Instagram planning while you focus on your core business. Working with a professional Instagram marketing company means having access to years of experience in implementing cost-effective Instagram marketing strategies.
Thrive Internet Marketing Agency is an Instagram marketing agency serving businesses of all sizes and industries since 2005. Our end-to-end Instagram marketing services include Instagram SEO, Instagram influencer marketing, Facebook and Instagram advertising, social media management and brand management.
Our social media marketing experts provide reliable Instagram marketing tips on the algorithm changes, updated information on SEO for Instagram and tailor our Instagram marketing services to your specific goals and objectives.
Schedule a consultation to learn more about the Instagram algorithms and the best Instagram marketing strategies to pursue for your unique business.