Ways to Win the Instagram Algorithm

Business Builders,

Ways to Win the Instagram Algorithm

From individuals with dozens of followers to celebrities with millions, the Instagram algorithm affects everyone who uses the platform – especially brands. Understanding the 2023 Instagram algorithm is essential for a successful marketing strategy, so if you want to ensure your content gets seen on the app, keep reading for ways to win the Instagram algorithm.

What is the Instagram algorithm?

The Instagram algorithm is a set of rules that rank content on the platform. It decides what content shows up, and in what order, on all Instagram users’ feeds, the Explore Page, the Reels feed, hashtag pages, Instagram stories, etc.

The algorithm cross-references content (posts, stories, Reels, captions, hashtags, alt text, etc.) with information from the user (their interests and behaviors on the platform) and serves the right content to the right people to ensure users have access to what they are most interested in seeing.

In short, the main purpose of the Instagram algorithm is to make each user’s experience on the platform as enjoyable as possible. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri in 2021 in a blog post entitled Shedding More Light on How Instagram Works explained “We want to make the most of your time, and we believe that using technology [the Instagram algorithm] to personalize your experience is the best way to do that,”

So, why does this matter to marketers? Because understanding how the algorithm works will help you optimize your content accordingly, and in turn can lead to Instagram displaying your content to more users. This can help you increase traffic on your website, gain more followers, create brand recognition, increase sales and so much more. 

How does the Instagram algorithm work?

When a user opens the app, the Instagram algorithms instantly comb through all the available content and determine what content to serve them and in what order. The following are the three most important ranking factors of the algorithm:

  1. Relationship – What’s the relationship between the creator of the content and the user? Do they follow each other? Do they message each other? Comment on each other’s posts? If the relationship appears to be stronger or the more they’ve interacted with each other in the past, the more likely the algorithm is to show the new content they post.

TIP: This is where interaction becomes extremely important for businesses. It’s not enough to post your content and move on, you also must be actively engaging with other users on Instagram, responding to DMs, etc. These will help

  1. Interest – How does this post play into what the user is interested in? When the Instagram algorithm recognizes that a user enjoys a specific type of content or format, they show this to them more often. For example, if the Instagram algorithm notices a user interacts with content that features puppies more than kittens, they will show them puppy content more frequently.
  2. Relevancy – Instagram will perform an analysis of how “relevant” content is based on how it fits with trending topics and the timeliness factor of the post. For example, if you make a “Happy Valentine’s Day!” post on June 15th, it’s unlikely it’ll perform well in the algorithm because it’s not relevant.

Six ways to win the Instagram algorithm

Trying to win the algorithm may seem time-consuming and complicated. We’re not going to lie here… it absolutely can be. At the end of the day, the algorithm rewards quality and engaging content. Use the following tips to win the Instagram algorithm.

  • Respect community guidelines – Instagram has a set of Community Guidelines to keep Instagram a safe and fun place to engage. Whether you’re posting in the Feed, in Reels or Stories, if you break the rules of the Community Guidelines, you may see your posts getting even less engagement. You may have broken the Community Guidelines if you share misinformation, posts that are political in nature and/or content that can be considered upsetting or sensitive.
  • Embrace your creativity with Reels – Instagram Reels are a fantastic way to reach a new audience outside of your followers, and Instagram heavily prioritizes them in the algorithm. The Instagram Creators account recommends keeping them short, sweet and above all fun. They are ranked in the algorithm also by entertainment value.
  • Optimize your post scheduling – Audience interaction is an important signal for the Instagram algorithm to deliver your content to more users, so optimizing your post timing at the right time of the day is essential for your organic reach. Scheduling tools like Hootsuite and the Meta Business Suite will help you automatically determine the optimal time for posting.
  • Encourage engagement – Engagement is a HUGE indicator for the Instagram algorithm. Comments are the best way to signal engagement to the algorithm, so encouraging comments with a simple call to action is a great way to get your audience to speak up. When you do receive comments, do not let them fall on deaf ears, and respond accordingly.
  • Hashtags are your #friend – According to Hootsuite, employing accurate and descriptive hashtags is a great way to label your content for maximum reach. If the algorithm can compute just what your photo or post is about, it can more easily share it with people who are interested in that topic. Plus, unlike Instagram ads, hashtags are always free. This a small but effective win for your social media budget!
  • Post consistently – Posting consistently is a key component to increase your reach, engagement and follower growth. On average, businesses post 1.6 posts to their feed per day. If this seems like too much for your one-man show, then the key is to be consistent whether that’s two times per week, once a week, etc. Consistency also requires planning, so that’s when having a social media planner or scheduling service comes into play.

Where can I learn more?

As Instagram continues to roll out tools to help businesses succeed, it’s essential for us to utilize them and understand them well. With the right marketing strategy, businesses can use Instagram to promote their products and services, boost their brand, increase sales and generate new leads.

And that’s why at SWFL Inc. we created our Digital Marketing Courses, designed to give our region’s small businesses the tools they need to grow in an ever-changing world.

In SWFL Inc.’s upcoming Digital Marketing Course on Instagram, we’ll discuss the basics of the platform and the types of content on it, how to use the Instagram algorithm to your advantage for Stories, Reels and Posts, changes to Instagram in 2022 and 2023 and what it means for business and even create an Instagram Reel together. To register, click here.

If you’re unable to attend the upcoming course, sign up for SWFL Inc.’s Business Builders updates where we provide valuable information to our local businesses on the industry’s latest news and trends.