Have you noticed that your current marketing strategy for Instagram isn’t as successful as it used to be? That’s because recently, Instagram changed their entire algorithm, meaning that content success is based on a completely different set of elements than before.
In this article, we’ve decided to break it down for you, identifying each part of the new algorithm and giving tips on how to use these to your advantage!
2021 Instagram algorithm - what has changed?
The new Instagram algorithm focuses on 6 key factors that influence the way posts are ranked on your feed. These 6 key factors are Interest, Relationship, Timelines, Frequency, Following and Usage. Below, we have provided a brief explanation of each factor and some top tips on how to use these to your advantage.
🤔What it means: Rather than your feed showing posts of the people you follow in chronological order, Instagram now prioritises posts based on your behaviours. Using your interactions with content as its basis, it will prioritise the posts it believes are aligned with your interests.
👉What you should do: In order for your posts to show up on your followers’ feeds, they need to engage with your content as much as possible. The best way to do this is to post consistently, giving your followers plenty of opportunities to engage with multiple types of media in a short amount of time. You can also encourage more engagement with the following:
Include CTA’s - encourage followers to engage more with your content, especially commenting on your post as this is prioritised most by the algorithm
Create conversations - highlight the importance of your followers being part of your content!
Include trending topics - so your followers have more to identify with
Incorporate UGC (user-generated content) - your followers are more likely to engage more with posts that they have created themselves!
🤔What it means: Similarly to Interest, the relationship factor of the algorithm means that Instagram will prioritise the posts of those closest to you - this is also calculated using your interactions with each other. However, this also includes factors such as who you direct message, which accounts you search for, and people you know in real life.
👉What you should do: In order for Instagram to prioritise your posts on your followers’ feeds, you need Instagram to believe you have a close relationship with them. You can do this by maintaining consistent engagement with your followers - like and comment on their posts, react to their Instagram stories, and communicate with them through direct messages. To guarantee engagement back, you can do the following:
Encourage responses back - e.g. ask them a question relating to the topic of their most recent post.
Share followers’ stories on your account - sharing followers’ posts usually end with a small message of thanks or them sharing something of yours in return!
Create a rapport - consistent engagement will lead to an ongoing relationship with your followers that the algorithm will easily identify
🤔What it means: Even though Instagram takes into account the interest and relationship of your content, when you post content is still an important factor - Instagram still wants to provide the latest, most interesting posts to everyone’s feed. Equally, Instagram cares about how much engagement you receive when your posts are uploaded initially - the more engagement straight away, the higher it ranks the post.
👉What you should do: There is a combination of things you can do to take advantage of this part of the algorithm; find the peak times to upload your posts, share the post as much as possible, and engage with others’ content before and after posting.
To find when your followers are most active, use Instagram’s own Insights feature:
Go to your profile (you must have a business account)
Click the ‘Insights’ button
Select the ‘See All’ option on the ‘Your Audience’ section of the page
Scroll down to the ‘Most Active Times’ section
Click once on the chart to access exact numbers of active followers
Alternatively, you can download Instagram analytics tools to find out when your most successful posts were uploaded, and create a social media calendar based on your findings.
🤔What it means: Instagram now sorts posts depending on the how often you are using the app:
If you are a less frequent visitor on Instagram - posts that align with your interests will be prioritised
If you are a more frequent Instagram user, Instagram is more likely to prioritise the most recent posts that have received good engagement.
👉What you should do: The best way to ensure that you are reaching both your more frequent and less frequent Instagram followers is by finding a good balance between engagement and timing. Try to identify less frequent followers, and prioritise engaging with them through likes and comments a bit more than the followers who are always the fist to watch your Instagram story! A combination of consistent organic engagement and peak post uploading should keep both types of followers interested in your content.
🤔What it means: Instagram takes into account the number of people you’re following when deciding the best posts for you - the more accounts you follow, the harder it is for Instagram to choose the most interesting posts for you. On the other hand, Instagram now also ranks your place in the algorithm based on the activity of your followers. If all of your followers are active users, then Instagram will rank your posts highly.
👉What you should do: The most important thing to do is to unfollow any inactive, ‘ghost’ followers you have. Their inactivity on your account will be reducing how you rank on the new algorithm. Another way you can use your following to rank higher is by keeping your followers engaged on the app for as long as possible.
🤔What it means: The more you use Instagram, the more likely that Instagram will try to show you new accounts, as you run out of new content to see. The algorithm will use your interactions to suggest the right new accounts for you.
👉What you should do: Whilst it’s important to engage with your followers, it’s also important to focus a percentage of your engagement on the accounts that you consider as ideal customers/clients, or accounts that produce content that will inspire your own creations. By doing this, Instagram’s algorithm will make it easier for you to discover new audiences or simply accounts you can take inspiration from.
Would you like to receive a cheat sheet with some of our very own extra tips on Instagram engagement? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or direct message us on our Instagram page!