Welcome to my blog.
Today’s topic is all about the Instagram algorithm. I have been extremely interested in how the new algorithm (as of 2020) works and how I can succeed in growing my Instagram page now despite the new algorithm making it even harder to gain followers! Instagram remains one of my favourite apps and so I find learning about any new updates or features particularly interesting. I will be sharing two blogs on this topic – I had too much information to share sorry! I will cover everything: from what the algorithm is and how to beat it, to how to avoid (or get rid of) action blocks within these two blogs.
Today’s topics include:
– What is the Instagram algorithm?
– How can you benefit from the algorithm?
– How is the algorithm good and how can you gain from it?
WHAT IS THE INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM?
I made my Instagram account @bethlucyblogs (which is my account where I share all my travel shots) at the end of 2017 and began using it regularly at the start of 2018. I believe that Instagram has changed its algorithm immensely since I joined the platform, in order to combat spam accounts, automation services and has generally updated as data and technology has improved. Rumour has it that in 2020, 10% of your audience will see your posts come up in their homepage! This would explain why my engagement on recent posts at the start of 2020 was extremely low! However, there are ways that we can beat the Instagram algorithm.
WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT THE INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM 2020:
1) Instagram’s goal is to monetize.
Just like many of the accounts on Instagram, Instagram itself is a business and relies upon its users to provide its profits and drive its ranking. Instagram wants to remain one of the most important forms of social media and the only way to do this is to keep users on the app for as long as possible! Instagram will therefore favour users that keep their followers active and engaged! The best ways to keep your audience active and engaged on your account include: posting photos, posting videos, replying to dms, replying to comments, going live, posting igtvs and effectively using all the instagram features regularly!
The more time you spend on Instagram engaging with your audience, the more Instagram will favour you. Make sure to respond to comments and dms quickly! Additionally, continue to use Instagram’s features on a daily basis and ensure that you use new Instagram features (e.g the stay at home sticker) as these are proven to boost engagement and mean Instagram favours you among other Instagram users.
2) Instagram wants you to build relationships with your audience.
According to Instagram, the app will actually promote the pages that you engage with the most, meaning that they will come up on your home page. Ever since Instagram decided to get rid of the chronological order of posts from your followers in 2016, Instagram has tried to personalise our home pages so they are specific to us. You may wonder why the same accounts always show up on your home page and others don’t, but it is all relative to which ones you: like, comment on, share, save etc. You may find that your mum’s account is always at the top of your home page, even though she may only have 50 followers, because you always engage on her account! Instagram gives its users the freedom to personalise their home pages to them, as the more you engage on specific pages, the more they will come up on your home page! This is also the same for the explore page. If you always like pictures of cars, then there will be pictures of cars on your explore page too!
However, bear in mind that some rumours about the Instagram algorithm are supposedly invalid and not true.
Instagram themselves have already announced that:
– All comments are equal, regardless of account size or the number of words.
– Photos and videos are equal.
– The first 30 minutes of engagement on your post does not ‘boost’ your account in any way, although it will give you an indication of how well your post will perform.
– Fake interactions do not count.
– The Instagram algorithm is constantly changing.
Additionally, all sorts of engagement are important. Such as reshares, saves, likes and views. It is important to know that Instagram shared that the best measures of engagement are: comments, likes, reshares and for videos are views. Photos and videos are treated equally which means that one form of posting does not do better than the other. There is a common misconception that videos outperform photos in terms of engagement, however, Instagram clarified that videos were only 4x as likely to reach the explore page as photos because their engagement also factored in the amount of time people would spend viewing the video. Posting videos is really effective if you are hoping to gain more followers, because if it reaches people’s explore pages then you are able to attract users to your account!
What is seen on your Instagram home page is determined by what Instagram thinks you will care about the most. This is also the same for Instagram stories. If you regularly watch someone’s Instagram stories, then they will probably come up at the top of your suggested stories feed to view!
An Instagram software engineer called Thomas Dimson shared that Instagram can determine which accounts show up on your home page by:
– Looking at whose content you like e.g posts and stories
– Looking at which people you direct message
– Looking at which people you search for
– Looking at which people you know in real life
Instagram can predict how well you like certain pages and will therefore share with you those pages more often. Your Instagram home feed is not just based on accounts that you like and follow, but also those that you do not follow, yet where their content meets your interest. So, for people who engage with posts like yours, they are more likely to find your account!
Instagram will also share more recently posted photos or videos at the top of an Instagram home page. The algorithm shares the most popular posts to the top of the home page, so if your audience do not check Instagram often, then they are likely to miss your posts unless they receive high levels of engagement. However, most Instagram users (42%) use the app multiples times a day, so there is a chance they will see your posts! It is important to consider who your audience are and how long do they spend on the app? Users that scroll through the home page for an hour are much more likely to see under-performing posts than those who look for five minutes. As well, if your followers do not follow many people, then they will most likely see your posts in contrast to accounts that follow thousands of people.
Use analytics and insights if you have a business page – this will help you understand when the best times are to post based on when your followers are active.
HOW TO BENEFIT FROM THE ALGORITHM:
1) Be consistent
Try and keep a schedule and post often, this way, your audience will become familiar with your content and will more likely engage. Additionally, if you post at a similar time each day, then your audience will become accustomed to that timing and know when your posts go live. There are also many scheduling apps which can also post your photos for you, without you actually having to be on Instagram! This can save a lot of time if you want to engage with accounts.
2) Use Instagram analytics!
With Instagram analytics, you can easily discover which are your best times to post and when to post! I would experiment with posting times at first as then you will be able to discover at what times your audience are most online.
Engage with your followers and begin to develop relationships with them. You could also post collabs with other people who have similar niches to you or with brands! I personally have never collabed with any brands as I want to develop my account before I start doing posts for brands and the same with other bloggers, but this has proven to be a great way to grow followers, especially when the brand or other blogger reshares and posts your photos!
4) Use hashtags.
It is so important to use hashtags on your posts if you hope to beat the algorithm. They can really maximise your reach and exposure to accounts that don’t follow you already and can mean you make the explore page! I really recommend using less than the maximum of 30 hashtags, as this can sometimes lead to ‘shadowbanning’ and always use hashtags specific to your niche and the post! I would encourage you to use some small hashtags and big ones as a mix can mean you get to the top of some of the hashtags! I think sometimes using a hashtag with over 500k posts on it can really pay off if your photo makes it to the ‘top’ page.
5) When you post: engage or comment back within the first 60 minutes to drive engagement.
Instagram boosts your post when you do this and it also drives more engagement to your post! Additionally, do not edit your caption or location tag (or at least try not to) within the first 24 hours of your post being up as this could significantly reduce the amount of reach and engagement it will receive. There is no evidence to prove this, but a lot of people have told me this and so I may see if it works. I always edit my captions which is probably a bad thing!
6) Change your hashtags for each post!
I personally think it is so annoying that we now have to rotate our hashtags and use different ones in order for Instagram to not think we are a bot or spam! So I would recommend using different hashtags for each post and always varying them, otherwise you could get shadowbanned and your posts will not get on hashtags. If you struggle to choose different hashtags for each post, then use less than 30 for each post. 30 is the maximum amount, but if you use 30 all the time, Instagram can begin to think you are a bot, so make sure to vary these hashtags and instead use 10-20 on each post!
7) Joining engagement groups boosts engagement.
I am not really a fan of engagement groups, because although I am in a few already, I think it is better to have followers that like and comment on your posts because they actually like them! I like the idea of building a community and having loyal followers, so I would try to ensure that not all your engagement is from these groups. Additionally, at the moment, it is suspected that Instagram could be tracking down engagement groups and action blocking or shadowbanning people in these groups. You are now recommended to not post your latest post to the chat but instead use emojis or words other than ‘new post.’ However, if you have just started Instagram I would recommend building relationships with followers instead of using engagement groups because it is tough to engage with all the accounts in them and Instagram is now supposedly penalising people using them.
Why is the algorithm actually good and how can you gain from it?
Since your posts are now only being seen by a small proportion of your followers, it is time to post your best content and become personal! Work on growing a community within your audience. It is much easier said than done, but it will definitely pay off! The most positive aspect of the new algorithm is that now we need to focus on engaging with our audience more and on becoming more authentic and personal ourselves. Don’t worry as much about the numbers and instead build relationships with your followers!
Thank you for reading! I hope you got some value out of it! I hope this blog has also helped you understand how really the algorithm is a good thing as Instagram is helping us in building strong and loyal communities by changing the way that our posts are viewed!
If you want to read more of my Instagram content from getting to 1000 followers to 10k then click here to view all my blogs on Instagram related topics!
Thank you once again for reading! If you thought this information was useful then please like, share and comment! I’d love to know your thoughts.