As the platform changes, so have the Instagram algorithm signals. The changes have impacted how you see posts, who sees your posts, and what content gets more exposure on Instagram. It’s essential to know the latest indicators to get ahead in this game. Inside this article, I share some of the most important things you need to know about the current Instagram Algorithm-how it’s created, how it’s constantly changing, and what you can do to crack this code to know how to grow your Instagram in 2022!
To do that, I’ve broken it down into five parts:
1. What is the Instagram Algorithm
2. Why entrepreneurs should care about the current algorithm
3. How Instagram ranks Feed and Stories, Reels, and Explore
4. 9 ways to use the Instagram algorithm to your advantage
5. The best way to promote your business on Instagram in 2022
Today, when I think of Instagram, I think of a full-blown short-form video platform. And for many people who are new to brand building – this can be extremely intimidating and scary. But it wasn’t always this way.
When Instagram first launched in 2010, it existed as a single stream of photos in chronological order, but in 2016 they realized people were missing 70% of all their posts in Feed, so they introduced a Feed that ranked posts based on what you care about most.
Insert a dedicated algorithm for each part of the app – Feed and Stories, Explore, and Reels tailored to how people use it.
While Instagram admits, they don’t have one algorithm that oversees what people do and don’t see on the app. They do claim to “use a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose.” (source)
For example, people tend to look for their closest friends in Stories, but they want to discover something entirely new in Explore.
In a nutshell, the algorithm is important because it determines how we see our Instagram feeds. The order of our feed on Instagram is based on several factors that include the types of posts you engage with most frequently and who you interact with the most.
While there has been some debate as to whether or not the Instagram algorithm is a good thing for users, there’s no denying that if you want to be seen, increase your following and know how to grow your Instagram, this is something you need to understand.
Especially as a Personal Brand looking to use Instagram to build brand awareness, engage and communicate with your audience, and develop a Brand Identity, you need to understand how your content gets seen by others.
The algorithm is complex, but it’s not entirely complicated as I once thought it was – Instagram’s primary goal is still simple: get us to engage with as much relevant content as possible, so we remain active on the app longer. To know how to grow your Instagram is to understand the algorithm.
By understanding how Instagram ranks Feed and Stories, Explore, and Reels, you can unlock these signals to ensure your ideal audience sees your content.
Ep 114: The Best Marketing Tools To Build Your Brand Online This Year
After Facebook acquired the platform in 2012, the focus gradually shifted from growing as many followers as possible to increase engagement, something Instagram has worked hard at since its inception. When people began to take notice of their profiles and hashtags became a “thing,” Instagram decided it needed to step up its game; enter the algorithm we know today.
As I mentioned, the current version of the algorithm (updated in late 2016) continues to improve how content is ordered in our account using dozens of different factors.
Over the years, Instagram has learned that Feed and Stories are places where people want to see content from their friends, family, and those they are closest to. So the algorithm for these two content types is relatively simple; it’s all the recent posts shared by the people you follow, except for ads.
They then use signals to make a set of predictions at how likely you are to interact with a post in different ways. This educated guess determines which Stories and Feed you see first.
Based on this information, Instagram’s algorithm calculates how likely someone is to interact with a post, known as a score of interest, which ultimately determines the order in which posts are displayed in your feed.
With the release of Reels in August of 2020 to compete with the Chinese short video app TikTok – the sole focus of this content has been to entertain you. Opposite of Feed and Stories, the majority of what you see is from accounts you don’t follow. Instagram goes through a process where they first source reels they think you might like and then order them based on how interesting they think they are to you.
The Explore page was designed to help you discover new things. The grid comprises photo and video recommendations that Instagram goes out and finds for you – which is very different from Feed and Stories, where the vast majority of what you see is from the accounts you follow.
Like Reels, Stories, and Feed, they rank these posts based on signals like what posts you’ve liked, saved, and commented on in the past.
Once Instagrams finds a group of photos and videos you might be interested in, they then order them by how interested they think you are in each one, much like how they rank Feed and Stories.
The best way to guess how interested you are in something is to predict how likely you will do something with the post. The most important actions Instagram predicts in Explore include likes, saves, and shares.
So now that we know what the Instagram Algorithm is, why it’s important, and the exact signals Instagram uses to rank content, let’s talk about how to use this information to your advantage and how to grow your Instagram.
Not only are Reels being heavily promoted across the entire app, but they get twice as much real-estate on the Instagram Explore page – making them a major strategy for discovery and growth. Time spent is a crucial indicator for the algorithm, and video is super engaging. Jump on the REEL Train once and for all. Make it a goal to post a minimum of 3-4 reels a week.
First, you can post to Instagram Stories more often throughout the day (aim for 5-10x a day). This way, you have a better chance of reaching viewers no matter what time they browse their daily stories. The more views you gain, the better your ranking will be. And second, Use Instagram Story Stickers – the more engagement and DMs you can drive, the better your ranking will be. The stickers to pay attention to most are Polls, emoji slider, and question stickers.
Instagram has confirmed that comments and likes are important for Feed ranking, so it’s a great idea to encourage as many as possible for your posts. When writing your captions, include a call to action to drive these interactions. It can be as simple as asking a question, double tap if you agree, saving for later, or clicking the link in your bio. (Call To Actions: Secret Formula To Amplify Conversions)
While recent chatter on the Instagram Creators account mentioned using only 3-5 hashtags in your post – the bottom line is you can’t have worse reach from using more hashtags. Studies show the more hashtags on a post, the higher the engagement rate. So use 30 optimized hashtags per Feed post and Reel to reach people relevant to your business. (Try Flick for Hashtags!)
There are many ways to share your content within the app to get more views and engagement and thus your algorithm ranking. For instance, you can share Reels and Feed posts to your Stories with a Tap here sticker and Share Feed Posts to Guides. This way, people will click back to the original post and take action.
When you can use CORE Keywords in your captions and descriptive alt text for your photos, you help the algorithm understand and categorize your content to show it to more people looking for it. Rely on your SEO strategy to determine these keywords and phrases for your blog content, Pinterest strategy, and social captions. Ep 95: The Simple Instagram Hashtag Formula for Beginners
While the Instagram app won’t give you this insight, you can use a scheduling app such as Sked to provide you with this information. This insight allows you to post to Feed and Reels at optimal times, so your content appears at or near the top of your audience’s feed when they are online.
Besides the in-app Analytics dashboard, most social media scheduling apps include these analytics to give you a visual overview of how your content is performing. A better understanding of what’s working (and isn’t) will save time when crafting marketing plans so that you’re always one step ahead instead of being left guessing at which posts might work. (We use Sked scheduler!)
When colors, fonts, logos, and elements are used consistently across the channel, your brand becomes memorable to your audience and instantly separates you from competitors. (DIY your Brand Identity here!)
To summarize, Instagram uses a specific algorithm and signals, and as a result, you’ll want to make sure your content is optimized for Feed and Stories, Reels, and Explore.
These findings are great news, as the algorithm is beneficial for entrepreneurs in a few ways:
This all means more impressions for you, leading to more niche followers, leads, and sales.
There’s no way to “beat” the Instagram algorithm in 2022. You can’t always show up top spot in everyone’s scroll. However, you can use these tips I’ve shared today to help create content that will trigger the Instagram signals and key factors so your posts get served towards a specific group of people who might be interested! Being consistent with posting quality material and building genuine relationships makes for an excellent Instagram strategy when using this marketing platform.
If Instagram is one of the marketing platforms you are focusing on in 2022, I invite you to participate in my upcoming Instagram Unlock – a Live 2-Day Virtual Workshop.
Inside these two days – we will set your marketing plan up for success in the new year using a digestible format to unlock your brand profile, content pillars, and overall Instagram marketing strategy – All at a beginner level that makes sense for your brand. Learn more at Kristinkorn.com/Instagram.
To get more information about joining us for our next Instagram Unlock Virtual Workshop, go to Kristinkorn.com/Instagram.
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Once an obsessively frustrated network marketer, I flipped the industry approach to online marketing by implementing personal branding strategies. Since 2017, I’ve been helping women take the hard out of building a brand and differentiating their business - bypassing the hustle and inserting marketing automation.
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