What Is The Instagram Algorithm and How to Beat It?

The Instagram algorithm has a huge impact on your success on Instagram. That’s why we compiled this article to cover all the known factors that might influence how many users you reach. Just to be clear, nobody knows how the Instagram algorithm exactly works. Smart Instagram users and marketers have already figured out a few ranking factors. Instagram has never given any information on how the algorithm works. If you meet somebody that claims that he/she knows how it works, keep going, it’s a scam.

What Is The Instagram Algorithm?

The Instagram algorithm is the heart and brain behind the Instagram app. It decides:

  • how high your post gets in your followers’ feed,
  • whether your post will be featured on the Explore Page,
  • how many of your followers see your post and
  • how many users that don’t follow you, will see your posts.

How Does The Instagram Algorithm Work?

Instagram uses an experienced-based algorithm in order to determine which posts to show to which users. This means that all interactions such as likes, comments, saves and shares are saved and analyzed. The algorithm then looks for content that might be interesting for that user. To analyze the content of a post, Instagram doesn’t only rely on hashtags. It uses AI to find out what is going on in your pictures.

But the algorithm takes other factors into account too. Here’s the list of the most important things you have to worry about in order to “beat” the Instagram algorithm:

1. Engagement on Instagram 

Your engagement rate is your key benchmark to optimize. It’s an indicator of the quality of your content. High engagement means that your content is appealing and interesting and Instagram knows that.

It should be your highest priority to increase your engagement rate. The smaller your following, the higher your engagement rate should be. Aim for an engagement rate of 10% in the beginning. FYI, the average engagement rate in the fashion niche is just 3,28%. If your content receives a lot of engagement, Instagram is more likely to show your content to users that aren’t following you but are interested in the kind of content you post

How do you increase your engagement on Instagram? It’s the small things that can boost your engagement at your early stages of growth. Check it out and make sure you’ve covered all the points mentioned.

2. First Hour After Posting on Instagram

It takes more than just high engagement in order to receive a push from the Instagram algorithm. Receiving a lot of engagement over the course of a few days is good, but Instagram is testing out your content right after posting

How does that work?

Your posts get immediately shown to a specific number of your followers right after posting. From that initial engagement you receive, Instagram calculates how good your content is and to how many users it will show your posts. 

So, what can you do in order to increase engagement in the initial phase after posting?

Choose the right time to post and join engagement groups.

3. Instagram Engagement Groups

Engagement groups can help you increase the number of likes and comments you receive after posting. Engagement groups (also called DM groups or engagement pods) are still the best way to boost your engagement in a short period of time. These groups are especially useful for new and upcoming Instagrammers. We put together a small guide on how to join engagement groups:  

If you want to know how to grow your Instagram account, you should check out our Liking-Strategy – an easy way to get interested and engaged followers.

4. Use All Communication Channels on Instagram

Instagram pushed out new features over the course of the last year to bind users to its platform. The algorithm seems to favor accounts that use all the provided channels on the platform. How? Instagram wants its users to use these new features. Accounts that provide content for IGTV for example, Instagram’s new standalone video platform, will get their videos pushed without having to pay for it. 

  • Posts (photos and videos on your feed)
  • Stories
  • IGTV
  • Instagram Shopping

IGTV is actually a great example. There is far less competition on IGTV. How many of the accounts you follow make use of IGTV? While everybody posts to their feed and uses stories nowadays, IGTV is still on the rise. 

5. Shadowbans And Restrictions on Instagram

This is a big one. Ever heard anybody say that his/her account got banned? Well, it’s possible to get “banned” on Instagram. The shadowban is the most famous example of Instagram actively cutting down on your reach. 

Why do users get banned? Here are the prominent causes:

  • Spam
  • Reposting
  • Inappropriate content

In general, you have to follow Instagram’s Community Guidelines and the Terms of Use.

“We can remove any content or information you share on the Service if we believe that it violates these Terms of Use, our policies (including our Instagram Community Guidelines), or we are required to do so by law. If we take action to remove your content for violating our Community Guidelines, or disable or terminate your account, we will notify you where appropriate.”

The newest addition to restrictions is the action block. Liking too many posts or commenting on too many posts can get you action blocked. An action block stops you from performing a specific task for a set period of time. 

If you want to learn more about this issue, check out these articles:

The Instagram Algorithm: How to Get on The Explore Page?

The Instagram algorithm is also in charge of the Explore Page. But how do you get there?

Getting on the Explore Page means getting viral. It skyrockets your reach and you’ll experience a massive increase in likes and comments. 

The things we’ve mentioned above are the most important factors to rank on the Explore Page. You need high initial engagement after posting. Receiving a lot of likes and comments after posting means that your content has the potential to get viral.

A high number of shares (your post got shared via DM or outside of the app) is also an important indicator of viral content. 

Use the Instagram Insights to check the potential of your posts. Look for “From Other” in your impressions breakdown. “From Other” is the benchmark that tells us how often your content has been saved or shared. Find out what it exactly means here:

The First Big Instagram Algorithm Change

In 2016 Instagram changed its algorithm from a chronological feed to an experienced-based feed. What does that mean? Back in 2016 and before, your feed was sorted by time. The reason for this change was the growing number of users and posts on the platform. Users couldn’t keep up with the wave of posts and videos coming in. 

New Instagram Algorithm Changes

There are hundreds of criteria Instagram uses to rank posts. Many of which we don’t know about. Recent Instagram changes tackled the problem of inauthenticity. Instagram is actively cracking down on bots and fake activity. That’s why they introduced action blocks

Moreover, there is a serious possibility that Instagram will follow Facebook’s path of monetization. It will get harder and harder to grow an account organically. Instagram wants you to pay for more reach. On Facebook it’s extremely hard to grow a decent following these days. Let’s hope Instagram will not do the same. If you want to know how to grow your Instagram account organically, you should check out these guides:

Will Instagram Change The Algorithm?

Yes. Instagram will always make changes to its algorithm in order to keep up with new trends and developments in the social world. As you’ve seen above, Instagram’s algorithm has changed a lot in the past. Instagram will make its algorithm smarter. New features will be added and outdated ones will be removed.

Any questions or suggestions? Leave us a comment or shoot us an email. We would appreciate it!

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