Making Sense of the Instagram Algorithm
How are you feeling about Instagram right now? Do you ever get frustrated with how often it’s changing? Or that you just can’t keep up with all of its tools? Well, hopefully we can break down the barriers of how it actually works. Here’s how making sense of the Instagram algorithm will turn your business into one built to last.
Can you believe the impact we can make on the world today? I am blown away with how many people we can reach because of technology, social media, and the internet. The freedom and ability to create and distribute content is one of the most liberating factors of all time, especially for women.
Never before have women had the opportunity to create and be heard the way we do–and you get to be a part of that! That is something I (and hopefully you too) don’t take lightly and can feel the power from it.
Even though we have the ability to reach a lot of people doesn’t mean we know how to use the tools to do so–Instagram included. Instagram knows they’ve been a bit mysterious with their algorithm and how things should work for creators and influencers especially. However, they’ve heard our pleas and they plan to make a lot of changes for us.
Making Sense of the Instagram Algorithm
Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, recently published a blog post all about how Instagram works. They have three main algorithms that they use to determine usership and how to reach their main goal, which is to keep people on the Instagram app.
As creators, we can use these algorithms to our benefit. Now we know the secrets to how Instagram works and can use them to help spread our brand and engage with our community! So, let’s jump into making sense of the Instagram algorithms.
The Feed Algorithm
Your feed is what shows up on your home screen when you open the Instagram app. It’s a line of pictures and videos posted by people you are following. The main thing about this algorithm is your feed and stories are only seen by people who follow you. Those you interact with more often are the ones who will be pushed to the top of your feed. This same equation applies to your stories too.
The Explore Algorithm
If you open the Explore page on your app, you’ll notice posts by people you do not follow, but it will be posts similar to ones you have recently shown interest in (liking, commenting, etc.). You can test this algorithm out by viewing and engaging with a new account.
For example, I recently started following one of my new clients who makes and sells the most amazing macarons (you should definitely follow her! @sweetmacshop). Since I started engaging in her content, my explore feed is exploding with all things macarons! Haha, I love it because number one, macarons, and two, I’m learning how the explore algorithm works.
The Reels Algorithm
Reels are meant to be entertaining–this isn’t my opinion, this is from Adam at Instagram. The reels algorithm is created for your reels to show up for people who would view it and show some type of engagement.
One of the biggest reasons I’ve been pushing reels since they’ve come out is because people can see them who do not follow you (unlike stories and regular posts). Reels is one of the main ways you can spread your brand awareness because Instagram is sending them directly to people who do not follow you, but would easily start following you because they like your content in your reel.
If you haven’t heard of my Rock the Reels challenge yet, you should check it out! This is a great opportunity to kickstart your reels journey and have your people to find you.
How to Use the Algorithms to Your Benefit
Now you know how Instagram works, but what does it mean for you? Instagram looks for and uses four signals in each of these algorithms that helps them know where to put your content. Knowing these signals will help you form goals for your following and engagement.
Signal #1: Your activity. This helps Instagram know what your interests are and what type of posts you would like and engage with. Thinking of this from a creator perspective, Instagram is finding potential followers for you by putting your content in front of people who have engaged with similar posts.
Signal #2: Your history of interacting with the person who posted. Instagram looks at whose posts you comment on and how often. This helps them know how much you really care about that person or account and the content they’re posting.
Signal #3: The content in the post, reel, etc. Instagram keeps track of how long the post/video is, location if there is one attached, and more. This helps them match content topics to those who would engage with it.
Signal #4: Information about the people who engaged with the content. This is why engagement is such a huge deal. If I like or share a post, I’m signaling to Instagram that I want to see more content from this account.
Using these four signals and making sense of the Instagram algorithm will help you spread your brand and turn your business into one built to last. Remember, the more specific you are with the problem you solve, the better. This will make it easier for Instagram to send your content to your target audience.
If this is overwhelming at all, take a deep breath and know it will become very simple for you. You can read more about the Instagram algorithm here. And, as always, follow me on Instagram @iammichellegifford for more tips and tricks for a successful biz!