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Everything you need to know about Instagram’s algorithm

Instagram has provided new insights into how their algorithm works, so more businesses can take advantage of their inside knowledge!

Here’s our super simple breakdown of the algorithm and key takeaways for small and medium business owners.

Instagram has several algorithms

One of the most important and interesting things to note is that Instagram doesn’t just have one algorithm - it has a whole bunch of them!

Contrary to popular belief, there’s no single algorithm controlling what your customers do and don’t see. Instead, there’s a range of different algorithms all working together, each with its own purpose. These algorithms work to classify each post and personalise your Instagram feed, Stories and Discover page so that only the most relevant posts appear.

As a result, it’s no good trying to target just one algorithm with your social media strategy. You need to think more holistically if you want to increase engagement on your posts. We’ll go into this in more detail below!

It draws on ‘signals’ within each post

As well as having many algorithms, Instagram also has thousands of ‘signals’ that its systems use to rank posts and decide who sees what in their feed.

These key signals include:

  • Information about how popular the post is

  • When it was posted

  • What location (if any) is attached

  • Information about the account that posted it

  • Engagement activity such as posts you like and comment on

  • Your history of interacting with similar accounts

Note: Key signals apply both to the main feed and Stories so if you want to be seen by more people, it’s really important to be posting on both!

Hashtag choice matters

When it comes to the Instagram discovery page, Instagram’s algorithms work to show you content that you might like based on both your activity and who you follow.

If you want your posts to show up on the discovery page of potential customers, hashtags are your friend! Hashtags encourage more engagement on your posts, helping to increase your visibility.

Hashtags also help get your post in front of people following that topic. If they then engage with your post once they’ve seen it, your chances of showing up in other people’s discovery page goes up.

The Reel algorithm is a bit different

Reels are something different altogether! For the Reels algorithm, certain factors determine what will show up in your feed, including:

  • Activity - things you’ve liked and engaged with recently

  • Your engagement history

  • Technical information about the Reel

  • Information about who posted the Reel

What this means is when it comes to Reels, popularity is the most important factor. The more views and engagement you can get, the more people are going to get to see your video. Think of it like a snowball effect.

This can be tricky for small and medium businesses to take advantage of, especially if you’re competing about household names. Our tip? Speak on topics within your niche and offer viewers something new. Think about the knowledge and expertise you have that bigger brands don’t have. Use this to drive your content plan.

How Instagram’s algorithm affects your business

For SMEs, these Instagram algorithm insights demonstrate that it’s seriously important to incentivise people to like, comment, share, save and engage with your posts and stories.

The algorithm is heavily weighted towards promoting content that people engage with heavily. If you want your posts to be seen by more people, you need to do as much as you can to get them interacting with your content and your business.

That means doing more things like:

  • Asking questions

  • Conducting polls

  • Running contests and giveaways

  • Engaging with other accounts

  • Always posting relevant content

For many small and medium businesses, Instagram’s algorithm can seem impenetrable. These insights go some way to showing you how Instagram filters the posts you upload and how to get seen by more of your target audience.

Ultimately, it all comes down to having top quality content and lots of engagement with relevant accounts.

For expert help with your social media strategy and content management, get in touch or take a look at our packages.

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