How to Make Instagram’s Algorithm Your Friend

— By

Shaun McGrath

The Instagram algorithm is great if you’re a consumer since it saves you from having to scroll through tons and tons of posts to find the content that interests you.

But as a business, the algorithm can be your worst enemy. If it does not prioritize you, your content can get buried which can limit your organic reach.  

Good news though- the algorithm can be defeated. How? By working with it, not against it.  

To do so, you have to understand the Instagram algorithm.

The Instagram algorithm has 6 known pillars:

  1. Relationships

This is determined by how often a user interacts with your account. This can be through things such as likes, comments, searches of your username, and visits to your profile.

  1. Interest  

This refers to the type of content a user usually engages with. For example, a user might be more interested in viewing reels over stories. It also refers to the subject matter of your posts. For example, they might show heavy interest in one aspect of your business over others.  

  1. Timeliness

Users want to see newer posts rather than older ones.

  1. Frequency of use

The amount of time the user checks Instagram affects what type of content is shown first.  

  1. Following

This refers to the number of accounts a user follows. The other people they follow are also vying for their attention.

  1. Session time

This is the length of time a user spends on the app per day. If a user only spends 30mins on the app, the algorithm shows them what they’re most interested in first.  

How to work with the algorithm:

Out of these six pillars- there are only 3 that are in your control as a professional account: relationship, interest, and timeliness.

 

Follow these 3 tips to make the algorithm your friend:

  1. Use Instagram’s interactive stickers in your stories. This is an easy and sure-fire way to boost your engagement. There are quiz stickers, poll stickers, question stickers, and many more that can help grow your relationship with your audience
  1. Use relevant hashtags. Hashtags help the algorithm determine what your post is about so it can be shown to the right people. They are a free way to maximize your audience reach. But you need to use them wisely so you don’t end up accidentally getting shadowbanned.  
  1. Post regularly and be consistent: this makes you memorable and lets your followers know what to expect from you and when.  

But don’t just post just to post. Make sure your content provides value so that your audience will interact with you. Remember, the algorithm prioritizes posts with high engagement.  

Experts say you should aim to post to your Instagram feed 2-3 times a week and no more than once a day. This is because posting more can overwhelm a user’s feed which can make them unfollow you or interact with your content less. If you want to share more than once a day, try sharing content to your story instead.  

You should also pick a day and time of the week to post your content and stick to it. This helps your followers anticipate when you’re online and can build brand loyalty.  

To help you decide when to post your content, see Hootsuite’s breakdown of the best times to post on Instagram for each day of the week. They found that the best universal time to post is 11am on Wednesdays!  

While the algorithm can be frustrating, choosing to work with it will greatly improve your social media strategy. It also has the hidden benefit of strengthening your relationship with your audience since it forces you to find new and exciting ways to interact with them. And remember, the algorithm is always being updated! What works for you today, may not be an effective solution for tomorrow. This is why it is important to track trends and insights on your account!  

PUBLISHED
August 11, 2022
CATEGORY
Social Media
Shaun McGrath
August 11, 2022
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