How the Instagram Algorithm Works and How Good it is for Marketers
How does the Instagram algorithm work? If it is short, it is difficult.
Bufferapp tried to figure out how how the Instagram tape was formed having decomposed the algorithm into seven components:
1. Involvement is the popularity of fasting.
2. Relevance – the types of content that the user is more interested in and with which he interacts more.
3. Interconnection – accounts with which the user regularly contacts.
4. The relevance – how long the post was published.
5. Search History – accounts that the user views frequently.
6. Rassharivaniya through direkt – whose publications the user is often divided in private messages.
7. Time – the duration of the post.
Involvement – the popularity of the post
The founder of Social Media Examiner, Michael Stelzner believes : when a person or brand publishes a post, social media algorithms show him only parts of the audience and watch how she reacts. If the audience perceives the post positively, then it is rolled out to a greater number of users.
It is logical to assume that the post with great involvement will be higher ranked in the Instagram ribbon. Involvement refers to likes, comments, reposts with the help of direct messages, adding to saved posts, watching videos, live, stories.
If one of those on whom the user subscribes interacts with the post, Instagram can decide that the user will also be interested in this post. And add it to the tape.
But the popularity of fasting is not the main factor. As the Instagram representative said in a conversation with Business Insider the tape is not a competition for popularity. Messages with less involvement, but greater relevance, will still be displayed in the top.
Relevance – types of content that the user is more interested in and interacts with more
When the algorithmic tape was announced, Instagram mentioned that it will display content that may be of interest to the user, first of all:
The order of photos and videos in your tape will be based on the likelihood of that you will be interested in the content your relationship with the person who posted the post, and the relevance of the publication.
It’s logical to assume that content that matches the user’s interests will be more likely to rank higher in your stream. But where does Instagram know about our interests?
One way is to look at the content themes that the user interacted with in the past.
Modern photo recognition technologies allow the algorithm to classify posts in either simple subjects, like travel, food or fashion, or over more complex ones. And the algorithm can look at the hashtags used.
If it is found that there is content with which the user interacts more often, for example, food, Instagram can rank the content of this topic higher, for example, restaurants.
Interconnection – accounts with which the user regularly contacts
One of the posts in the blog of Instagram says :
It does not matter how many accounts you subscribe to, you should see the latest posts of your best friends.
Like Facebook, Instagram does not want users to miss important posts of close people, for example, a post about engagement of friends. It is logical to assume that the content of “best friends” will be ranked higher.
And since Instagram joined Facebook, he was able to use the data of a senior friend to track our connections – family, friends, classmates, colleagues, etc.
In an interview, Thomas Dimson, a software engineer at Instagram, shared how a social network can identify people the user cares about:
- people whose content he likes (possibly including stories and live);
- people with whom he communicates in private messages;
- The people he is looking for
- people whom he knows in real life.
Although these are not exactly the exact criteria used by the Instagram algorithm, they make it clear that Instagram probably considers the accounts with which we often interact, “the people we care about”. And he will rank their content higher.
Relevance – how long the post was published
The next key ingredient, according to Instagram itself, is timeliness:
The order of photos and videos in your stream will be based on the likelihood that you will be interested in content, your relationship with the person who posted the post, and the relevance of the publication .
Instagram wants to display fresh and, correspondingly, current posts.
History from last week may not interest us as much as post-hour prescription. So Instagram will probably show a more recent post than a photo or video of a week ago, even if the old post exceeds it by involvement.
It is logical to assume that the more recent posts are ranked higher and that the tape is still in some sense chronological.
It looks like Instagram is just mixing up new posts between our visits.
For example, you went to Instagram at 23:00, and then returned only at 9 am, and during this time 50 posts were posted. The algorithm sorts only these 50 posts and will not include posts published before 23:00. But it is not exactly. If your observations indicate otherwise, write in the comments.
Search History – accounts that you frequently browse
According to the representative of Instagram the search for an account is another signal that Instagram pays attention to when ranking. When a user regularly looks for a specific profile, it shows that he is interested in his posts, but does not see them in his tape. (19459018)
Instagram can rank the posts of this account higher so that the user does not have to search for a profile.
Thomas from Instagram also mentioned that when they experimented with the new algorithm, the number of search queries decreased. They considered this a good sign, because it meant that people already see posts that are interesting to them, not looking for their favorite profiles.
Sharing through direct-to-user publications is often shared in private messages
Share in Instagram like a post with a friend – it’s easy. Rassharivaniya – another signal by which Instagram can get an idea of our interests.
There are two points here. First – the sharing of the post indicates that the user is probably interested in the posts of this account. Instagram will take this into account when ranking in the future. The second – Instagram will pay attention to people with whom the user shared a record.
Returning to the second point: the fact that the user shared a post with another person means that he cares for him. Therefore Instagram will rank his posts higher.
Time – the length of the post preview
Of course, the Instagram algorithm is similar to the Facebook algorithm – they both try to show people only those posts that will be interesting to them.
Facebook says : if people spend more time on a particular story in the tape than on others, it’s a good sign. So, the content is relevant for them. Even if they did not comment on the post.
If this factor is included in the Instagram algorithm, then, spending one post more time than others, we give the social network signal to rank similar posts higher.
A number of recent innovations in Instagram opens even more opportunities to attract and retain an audience on promotional materials. The most interesting of them: the ability to mark on the published images of other users and the possibility of creating a composite media, the so-called carousels. In the first case, the user receives not only text notification, as in the case of likes or subscriptions, which in the general tape can be completely skipped, but a pop-up red icon on the main profile page. Going to the section of marks, the user sees directly the media, on which it was noted. Moreover, they are displayed at the beginning of the section and will be displayed there until they are removed from their positions by other marks or until the user blocks the advertising page. This means that your ads will always be repeatedly viewed. The publication format of the carousel allows you to combine several thematic images and videos into one post. Proper placement of advertising materials in such publications, in conjunction with notes on media, will allow you to significantly increase the time for retaining the target audience on your page and increase sales.
Instagram probably uses other signals. After all, the algorithm is constantly being improved and supplemented. Remember at least Facebook, the ranking of which is based on hundreds of factors.
Stef Lewandowski from Makelight collected a list of signals that can also take into account the algorithm :
- how often the user enters the application;
- how often the user makes posts;
- how many hounds in the app;
- what is the “age” of the image;
- post is a video;
- the post was made by a personal or business account;
- how active is the account today – how many likes and comments left;
- how many hashtags have an image.
Why such an algorithm is good for marketers
The more people in Instagram, the more posts there. The more people have subscriptions, the more posts in their tape. The natural result of this is that the organic coverage of posts is falling.
In reality, people do not see all the new posts. The Instagram study showed that users skip 70% of posts if they are located in a chronological tape.
And as long as we create attractive, relevant and relevant content, the algorithm will work for us. It will broadcast content to a larger number of subscribers compared to those who would see it in a chronological tape.
Look at this from the other side. With a chronological tape, the only way to attract the attention of subscribers was to do posts many times a day. And if many brands followed this strategy, the number of posts grew catastrophically, and the organic coverage of posts also fell catastrophically. Even if they are very high-quality posts.
Today, the Instagram algorithm encourages brands to post only the best content. After all, the coverage of posts depends on the quality of the content.