As you may have heard by now, Instagram has recently announced the details of its updated algorithm. And these long-awaited changes are really worth paying attention to if you care how your brand performs online.
So, let’s get to it, this is how it works:
1. BYE BYE, CHRONOLOGICAL FEED
"Instagram claims people will now see 90% of posts from their “friends and family,” compared to around 50% with the reverse chronological feed."
What do “friends and family" actually mean?
Unlike the chronological feed, the new algorithm-based feed is influenced by several other factors. So even if you follow the exact same accounts as someone else, you’ll get a personalized feed based on how you interact with those accounts.
The algorithm basically tries to predict what content is important to you, focusing on a few combined factors:
Interest: what you’ve liked, commented on and pages you visit.
Timeliness, frequency and usage: how long ago the photo/video was posted, prioritizing recent posts. So your feed will adapt based on how often you open the app; if you’re a frequent scroller, your feed will look more “chronological” showing the best posts since your last visit. If you check the Instagram app less often, your feed will be sorted more to what Instagram thinks you’ll like, instead of chronologically.
Relationship: if you comment on a lot of someone’s photos or are tagged in photos with them, they will most likely fall into your “friends and family” category. >> You might want to try encouraging your followers to tag you in posts.
Following: time to make strategic use of the type of accounts you follow. If you follow a lot of people, then Instagram has more options to choose from, so you probably won’t see all of the posts from every account.
2. SNOWBALL EFFECT: THE 10% RULE
Instagram will now only show your content to 10% of your audience, specifically the 10% that are most engaged with your content.
Sounds a lot like the decrease in organic reach on Facebook, right? Well, it’s only physiological: more people, more problems.
So how do you get your reach beyond that? It’s a "snowball effect": the more engagement you have, the more you'll get. So only if your 10% of most engaged followers actually Like and Comment, your post will be shown on the feed of the other 90%.
3. GET FASTER ON YOUR THUMBS: QUICK RESPONSE TIME
Do you know when your wife asks you to do the dishes or take out the trash? That means NOW, not tomorrow.
Instagram now is a bit more needy and wants you to be ready to respond to comments, well...immediately. You’ll need to reply to the comments you receive on your posts within one hour. Lack of response or slow response time will lead to decreased visibility.
Similarly, do your off-page engagement diligence right after you post. Engage with people/posts that use same hashtags of your most recent post or connect with people that may like your latest content. Connecting with relevant people during the first hour-24 hours will increase your reach and attract more users to your feed.
4. THOSE EMOJI COMMENTS DON’T COUNT: LENGTH OF ENGAGEMENT
Remember the good days when you replied to comments with a heart, a thumbs up or a rocket emoji? Now forget it.
From now, responses will only count if they're longer than three words. Instagram wants both comments and replies to comments to be substantial.
5. HASHTAGS: WHERE THE HECK?
At first, you were adding up to 30 hashtags in your captions, then in the comments, then after a line of full stops.
Instagram does not count hashtags in your comments as engagement anymore.
And, you're only allowed to add five per caption.
It's now critical to make sure your hashtags are not only relevant to each post, but also super-specific and pertinent. The difference between using #beauty vs #bblogger when you’re marketing for skin care for example.
Also, “shadow-banning” is not a real thing. That was just a bug in the Instagram app, effectively blocking content that used the same hashtags over and over, which Instagram classified as “spammy” behavior. BUT, this is not the case anymore. Instagram says “it doesn’t hide people’s content for posting too many hashtags or taking other actions.
6. ONE TAKE, MAKE IT COUNT: NO EDITS
It was true then, but Instagram has confirmed it.
The new algorithm will perceive any edits as negative, which will lead them to give your post decreased visibility.
BONUS! QUESTIONS ANSWERED: THREE MORE GEMS (Insta-confirmed)
Do Stories count as engagement? Stories will be carrying more weight in terms of engagement; that’s because Instagram values organic reach and growth as well as people that connect with other people.
For us that means: using Stories more and more in our ads to get monster ROAS. Raw, interactive content is often better than a posed photo op. And build those highlights!
If I switch to an Instagram business profile, will my posts get less reach in the new algorithm? This is a definite no, unlike what we thought. Instagram doesn’t give extra feed presence to personal accounts or business accounts, so switching won’t help your reach.
Do videos still perform better with the new algorithm? Not anymore. The only way to get your content higher ranked is to produce great content.
Have you seen an increase or decrease in engagement lately? Are you using Instagram Stories and are you using them in ads? Let us know your comments and feedback by connecting with us on IG @remotelycollective.
Does this seem like a lot? It is indeed a full time job and that’s why we’re in business! If you need help, you can always contact us and we’ll see if we’re a right fit to help you out. If so, fill out the contact form here.