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INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM – WHAT IS IT & HOW DO YOU CRACK IT?

iphone with wriggle instagram on screen

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM – WHAT IS IT & HOW DO YOU CRACK IT?

Let’s face it – creating original and engaging content on social media can be a bit of a minefield. Combine that with tackling the algorithms generated for each platform, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing tricks in your social media management. 

With instagram becoming increasingly popular with businesses, and influencer marketing on the rise, learning how to make the most of the platform and all it has to offer is a good idea. Not sure where to start? Firstly, check out Instagram’s tips page for businesses to make the most of their accounts. Secondly, keep reading. 

 

WHAT IS AN ALGORITHM?

It’s a term that is increasingly being used amongst social media marketers and influencers but what does it actually mean? Put simply, an algorithm is a step-by-step process or set of rules that must be followed in order to perform a task. The term is predominantly used in relation to computer science and mathematical solutions. To get a computer to do anything, you have to tell it what to do and write a program with step-by-step instructions. 

 

WHAT ABOUT INSTAGRAM?

For Instagram, and all social media platforms, their algorithms will all be centred around organising and prioritising content in each user’s feed based on your behaviour. For example, when using YouTube, you’ll always see a list of recommended videos on your screen. This is based on what you’ve watched in the past, as well as what similar users to yourself are watching. When it comes to Instagram, the algorithm will determine the order of posts in your feed. Because the algorithm is based on machine-learning, this will be changing and evolving every time you use the app. Instagram has received some criticism in the past for the change from a previously chronological feed, as some users claim their content goes unseen by a lot of their followers. However, according to Instagram’s creators account, the average post is now seen by 50% more followers. 

 

HOW DOES IT WORK?

At the beginning of the year, Instagram made some updates to its algorithm, focussing on 3 core ranking signals. These are:

  • Relationship – the algorithm will prioritise posts from accounts that you already have an online ‘relationship’ with. This is anything from liking posts, leaving comments, tagging each other or exchanging DMs. Not sure who these accounts are? Check out this instagram post with a step-by-step guide on how to find the accounts you interact with most. 

 

  • Interest – depending on what kind of posts your account is engaging with, Instagram will ensure you see more of those posts. For example, if you’re watching a lot of videos, or mostly interacting with verified posts, these kinds of posts will appear more. 
  • Timeliness – whilst Instagram may have scrapped the chronological feed, the timing of your posts is still relevant. More recent posts will still be pushed towards the top of the feed, so it’s important to gauge when the ideal time is to engage with your target audience. 

 

 

As well as the ranking signals, it’s also important make note of the following:

  • The amount of time that your followers spend on Instagram will affect the content they see, as the algorithm shows the posts that are earning the most engagement since the last time they opened the app. Therefore, if your posts are not performing highly, your chances of being seen decrease.
  • If a user follows a lot of accounts, there’s going to be more competition for the top spots.
  • Session times can play a role – logically, if a user spends longer on the app, they will see more posts.

 

HOW DO I CRACK IT?

The all-important question. Here are some best practices for your instagram strategy:

REGULAR ENGAGEMENT

It can be too easy to focus on growing your audience and forget to engage with your existing followers or accounts you follow. Instagram’s algorithm focuses on relationships, so you need to maintain and nurture those relationships. A good first step is to follow back when you gain new followers and encourage comments and DMs from questions within your posts. Make sure you invite conversation and interaction on your account. 

FOCUS ON THE DATA

As always, analytics are key in order to discover the best way to get through to your audience through determining which types of posts are performing best and spotting any trends with engagement.  

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CONTENT

Cracking an algorithm only gets you so far. You also need to pull through with some great content. Find out what sort of posts your audience are liking at the moment and see if you can apply it to your brand. Experimentation is key here, as users may get bored seeing the same types of posts over and over again. Here’s some examples of types of posts you could create:

  • Quotes/Testimonials
  • Open-ended questions
  • Behind-the-scenes
  • Fun facts
  • Promotional
  • Videos
  • Giveaways

REUSE AND REPOST

Whilst you don’t want to be posting the same thing all of the time, there’s some merit in identifying top-performing content and reposting it to your feed. It may be that you’re struggling to create enough content to gain traction or you simply want to make sure that your audience is seeing the posts you care most about. Whatever the reason, reusing or improving and reposting content is a great time saver and gives you confidence that you’re posting algorithm-friendly stuff.  

 

HOW CAN WRIGGLE MARKETING HELP?

As a specialist social media agency, we’re well equipped to create a social media strategy for your business that delivers your brand promise and understands your audience. Get in touch today if you’d like some help.