In March 2016, Instagram introduced its new algorithm update, which uses a number of indicators to figure out which posts should appear at the top of the user’s feed. The main idea is to ensure that each user sees the content they like the most to increase overall engagement with this amazing social media platform.

Some people were not happy with the update and some are still complaining about it.

However, the new Instagram algorithm has been implemented and a large number of people are liking and commenting on more images and videos, and are engaging with their followers in a more active and positive way.

Regardless of whether users love the new Instagram algorithm or hate it, it hasn’t affected its user base growth. Instagram greatly boosted its user base by roughly 50% in the 10 months ensuing the release of the algorithm.  In fact, users are joining Instagram faster than before.

Let’s have a look at how the Instagram algorithm works and how startups and small business owners can create their 2018 marketing strategy around this groundbreaking revelation.

Ingredients That Go in to the Instagram Algorithm

The new Instagram algorithm update allows users to see the moments they care about first. It is all about determining which posts will interest you most and driving them to the top of your feed.

But the real question is, how does Instagram identify what users are most likely to care about? Instagram mentions are the major factor that determine if the “users will be interested in the content”, “their relationship with the person posting”, and the “timelines of the post.”

These are the important pointers Instagram algorithm consider the most:

Timelines

It has recently dawned over Instagram that users wish to see fresh and timely posts each time they log in. Instagram strives to show only pertinent and recent posts to its users. Something that happened last week probably isn’t going to catch the eye of an avid social media junkie, so Instagram is likely going to fill your newsfeed with only the most up-to-the-minute posts, even if an older post had received a lot of engagement. However, the timing of your post is still important since more recent posts rank higher in a user’s newsfeed. This is a great news for brands. While users won’t necessary see your posts at the exact time you post them, it’s still important to share at the right time to create more engagement. Ideally, the best time to post is when a major chunk of your audience is likely going to be active, as you will meet less competition then.

Engagement

Engagement shows that the post is stimulating and is probably gaining more likes and comments. Instagram’s new algorithm shows a newly published post to a sample audience to gauge how they would reach to it. If the post has received a positive response, in terms of likes, saves, live video views, comments, and shares, it is boosted and promoted. And since comments take a little more effort than tapping a simple “like” button, these are weighted more heavily.

Engagement is critically important, as a flurry of early activity shows the Instagram algorithm that a content is worth moving to the top of the user’s feed which simply leads to more engagement. In addition to how much engagement a post receives, the Instagram algorithm also factors in how quickly it received its engagement.

This is why digital marketers are advised to figure out the best time to post on Instagram for their business. Then, they need to consistently keep up a stream of engaging visuals and compelling captions to encourage users to engage with their post. They need to get the most important words up front to attract more followers and encourage them to keep reading.

Relationships

This factor can greatly analyze your relationship with the follower or brand depending upon how often you tend to engage with their posts over time. If you often like and comment on a brand’s videos and images, you will see more of those in your feed.

This helps ensure that users see more content from people they like most and have a strong relationship with, even if those people don’t have enough followers of their own to get a significant amount of likes and comments.

Brands are advised to build relationships with their followers. Proactively determine what type of content your followers want to see and engage with and post that type of content. You can use Instagram Insights to analyze which posts perform best and then create posts along similar lines to gain a massive, loyal and active userbase.

Profile Searches and Direct Messages

When you search for a user’s or a brand’s account, it clearly shows that you are interested in seeing their posts. Sharing someone’s content with your network via direct messages sends a pretty clear signal that you found that post compelling, even if you didn’t like or comment on that particular post publicly. These actions provide signals to Instagram that you are more interested in posts from a specific Instagram profile.

You can’t track engagement created as a result of direct messages. As you can’t see those shares, Instagram is analyzing them in the background. Therefore, digital marketers are recommended to invest their efforts and time in creating compelling and engaging posts that users will want to engage with and share. To make your profile more searchable, make sure you have an optimized Instagram bio.

How Can Brands Survive with Instagram Algorithm?

One of the greatest advantages of the new Instagram algorithm for brands and online marketers is that it boosts engagement. Here are some other benefits of using it for your brands.

Quality Posts Gain a Boost

If you consistently post quality content that perfectly aligns with what your followers want to see, your brand will have an edge over those who are just posting a large amount of irrelevant or lower quality posts.

Longer Lifespan of Posts

Previously, the half-life of an Instagram post was 72 minutes, which means that the posts could only get half of their total engagement within that allotted time. But after the implementation of Instagram algorithm, users can like and comment on your posts hours or even days later.

This is really amazing for brands with a more diverse audience, as more than 80% of Instagram users reside outside the United States. This makes it easier for brands to post engaging posts in their own time and users all around the globe can see posts they may have missed while they were offline.

How to Let the Instagram Algorithm Know that Your Brand is Creating Great Content?

  • Focus on Creating High-Quality Posts

The new Instagram update has rendered quality, engaging content more important than ever, as low-quality posts will not appear in the users’ feed.

  • Identify Your Target Audience

Engagement is the key to success, especially in this digital age. But remember; Content that is one user’s trash might be another’s treasure. This shows that you have to know your target audience inside out and understand what is most appealing and engaging to them. You need to fathom what types of posts and Instagram captions your brand should capitalize on to boost engagement.

You can determine who your target audience is by using Instagram Insights that can tell you the age, gender, location and other important demographic information pertaining to your followers. Then, you can depend on this important information to help create audience personas that will greatly help you boost engagement. This information can help you determine the best time to post your content to increase your chances of getting early engagement and sending positive signs to the Instagram algorithm.

  • Use Instagram Hashtags

Hashtags greatly help you connect with new followers and engage with your content. This allows you to sit well with the Instagram algorithm. Use specific, relevant Instagram hashtags which will help you connect with users who are actually interested in your posts. You can stay abreast of the new hashtags your followers and competitors are using and incorporate them in your content.

  • Share Live Videos

Posting video content is an amazing way of grabbing the attention of an ever escalating horde of users, and encouraging them to interact with your feed. Your followers would be notified each time you start broadcasting a live video on Instagram. You can save the video to your Instagram Story so that it can be assessable for another24 hours.

  • Instagram Pod

There are certain groups of Instagram users who like and comment on each other’s posts and support each other. Each group member likes every post and makes a real comment on it. Since real Instagrammers are posting comments and offering likes, this strategy works in your favor.

  • Boost Your Instagram Ads

You can curry the favor of Instagram algorithm by investing in Instagram ads. You can boost your posts or develop a custom ad campaign by using the Ad Manager or Power Editor.

  • Work with Influencers

Partnering with influencers is another great way of exposing your content to people who are not following your band. This in turn will escalate engagement and makes you more visible to the prying eyes of the Instagram algorithm.

Closing Thoughts

If you consistently post high-quality and relevant content, while finding more authentic ways of connecting with your users, the Instagram algorithm will reward you in the end and you can boost your organic reach and visibility. Use these important tactics and tips and create your marketing strategy for 2018 accordingly.

November 20, 2017
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