Everything You Need to Know About Instagram’s Algorithm
If you’ve ever struggled to understand how Instagram’s algorithm works, you are not alone! Until recently, it’s not been easy to understand how the platform decides what content to show each user.
To help clear up misunderstandings about its algorithm, Instagram has shared some extra insight into its internal processes. Via the platform:
“It’s hard to trust what you don’t understand. We want to do a better job of explaining how Instagram works. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, and we recognize that we can do more to help people understand what we do. Today, we’re sharing the first in a series of posts that will shed more light on how Instagram’s technology works and how it impacts the experiences that people have across the app. This first post tries to answer questions like “How does Instagram decide what shows up for me first?”; “Why do some of my posts get more views than others?”; and “How does Instagram decide what to show me in Explore?”
Keep reading for the key points shared by the social media giant.
The Algorithm, Explained
Instagram does not have one singular algorithm that dictates what users see or do not see on the app. Instead, the platform uses multiple algorithms, classifiers, and processes. Each section of the app – Feed, Explore, Reels – uses a special algorithm tailored to how people use it.
Instagram users typically look for their closest friends in Stories but want to discover something new in Explore. The app ranks things differently in different parts of the app, based on how people use them.
How Instagram Ranks Feed and Stories
Instagram understands that Feed and Stories are places where users are looking for content from their friends and family. Like any ranking algorithm, how it works can be broken down into steps.
First, Instagram defines the set of things they plan to rank. With Feed and with Stories, it’s all the recent posts shared by the people you follow.
Then they take all the information they have about what was posted, the people who made those posts, and your preferences – these are called “signals.“
According to Instagram, the most important signals across Feed and Stories are:
- Information about the post. These are signals both about how popular a post is, when it was posted, how long it is if it’s a video, and what location, if any, was attached to it.
- Information about the person who posted. This helps Instagram get a sense of how interesting the person might be to you, and includes signals like how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks.
- Your activity. This helps Instagram understand what you might be interested in and includes signals such as how many posts you’ve liked.
- Your history of interacting with someone. This provides a sense of how interested you are generally in seeing posts from a particular person.
How Instagram Ranks Explore
To find photos and videos you might be interested in, Instagram looks at signals like what posts you’ve liked, saved, and commented on before. After they have figured out the type of content you may be interested in, the platform then offers them by how interested they think you are in each one. The most important actions Instagram predicts include likes, saves, and shares.
How Instagram Ranks Reels
Reels were made to entertain users. To find videos that will amuse you, Instagram uses a similar process to Explore. First, they find reels they think you will like and then order them based on how interesting you will think they are.
The biggest predictions the platform makes are how likely you are to watch a reel all the way through, like it, say it was entertaining or funny, and go to the audio page.
How you can influence what you see
How you use the Instagram app influences what you see and do not see. Here are a few things you can do to influence the type of content you see, as explained by the platform:
- Pick your Close Friends. You can pick your close friends for Stories. This feature lets you share content with just the people closest to you, but the platform will also prioritize these friends in both Feed and Stories.
- Mute people you’re not interested in. You can mute an account you do not want to see content from but do not want to unfollow. If you mute someone, they will not know that you have taken this action!
- Mark recommended posts as “Not Interested.” Whenever you see a recommendation, whether it’s in Explore or Feed, you can say that you are not interested in that post.
These are some helpful insights as to how Instagram’s various algorithms work. When it comes to your business, you can use this information to understand your audience.
Focus on what works, and drop what people don’t respond to, allowing you to maximize these key elements and increase your engagement.
Ready to take your Instagram game up a notch? Call, DM, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started. We would love to help you take advantage of the algorithm.