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All you need to know about the Instagram algorithm in 2020

Post by
Sarah Roizman
All you need to know about the Instagram algorithm in 2020

In 2018, Instagram introduced a lot of new changes to their algorithm (and caused a lot of confusion and disappointment!) But, despite the negative reaction, there are no signs of a return to the chronological feed, and there is a whole set of new rules to the game. So, how do you keep up with all these Instagram algorithm changes? In this article, we will consider everything you need to know about how the Instagram algorithm works in 2020, and how you can work with it to make sure your posts are seen as often as possible.

How the Instagram Algorithm Works

There’s no doubt that Instagram posts no longer receive the amount of impressions they used to get. Now, it’s estimated that only 10% of your audience actually sees your posts. This upsets ordinary users, as it means they don’t see recently published photos of their friends and relatives, but instead are shown what Instagram believes may be interesting to them.

Here's what we know about how the Instagram algorithm works:

The Instagram algorithm values Stories with high engagement

Communicate through Stories. Instagram Stories will continue to evolve, becoming an integral part of your Instagram marketing strategy. Since the first transition from the chronological feed, we know that the Instagram algorithm is primarily based on interaction with posts. This includes the number of likes, comments, video views, saving, reposts, direct messages and any other types of interactions that the post receives. When a post receives a lot of likes and comments, it signals to the Instagram algorithm that it’s of high quality, with attractive content, and more people will want to see it. When Instagram first published the news about their new algorithm, they commented: ‘The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood that the content is on you, on your interactions with the person publishing the post, and on the timeliness of publication.’

They argued that the change was to improve the user experience, to prioritize the moments that we like best.

Tip # 1: Spend more time on publishing Stories in Instagram

Instagram Stories has over 400 million active users daily - nearly twice as many as Snapchat! As the Instagram algorithm continues to change and influence user interactions, it’s not surprising that more and more users spending time on Instagram Stories and not on their feeds.

The algorithm takes into account all the impressions that you get in your Instagram stories, for example, the reactions or when your stories are sent to someone.

The more users interact with your Instagram Stories, the more likely your posts will appear higher in the feed.

A great hack to get around the algorithm is to take advantage of engagement opportunities in Instagram Stories, including the polling function or the ‘swipe up’ option (if you have more than 10K followers).

Many micro-influencers tell their followers to write direct to get a link to a product. This is a great way to attract people to private messages, build relationships with your followers and, ultimately, increase the likelihood that your posts appear in their feed.

The Instagram algorithm rewards you for engaging with your followers

It’s now believed that Instagram not only gives priority to posts with high impressions, but it can also limit their visibility on the basis of engagement with your followers. Now it’s more important than ever to keep track of comments on your posts, especially during the first hour after posting, otherwise the visibility of your posts may decrease dramatically.

Tip # 2: Track and respond to comments

Treat Instagram comments as a conversation. If the comment doesn’t require an answer, leave a smiley or a like, but show activity! By responding to comments, you not only show attention to your followers, but also increase the visibility of your post.

The Instagram algorithm monitors how quickly users interact with your content

The algorithm takes into account not only how much engagement your post on Instagram receives, but also how fast. If your post receives a lot of likes and comments shortly after its publication, it signals to the Instagram algorithm that the post is high-quality content, so the post will be shown to even more of your followers.

Having found your best time to post on Instagram, you can hack the algorithm to increase your reach and get more likes and followers. If you post while most of your followers are online, you’re more likely to get likes right away!

Tip # 3: Find out when your audience is most active

Analyzing the audience in Instagram statistics on your account can help you find out the best time.

Image by Sarah Roizman

The Instagram algorithm calculates how much time users spend viewing a post

Headings will be your key to the Instagram algorithm. If you have an attractive title, users are likely to read it and click the ‘more’ button, which increases the time spent viewing the post.

The extra second that someone spends reading your headline can be decisive. And this is one of the reasons why video and photo carousels work so well in the Instagram algorithm - they keep the user's attention for longer!

A key piece of advice when it comes to writing exciting headlines is to strike whilst the creative juices are flowing. If you’re having a spurt of inspiration plot out your headlines for the whole week. By writing headlines and planning Instagram posts in advance you can save time that you can spend on other areas of your business.

This is one of the reasons why videos work so well in the Instagram algorithm, since watching a video takes longer than viewing an image. This rule also works in posts with a carousel, which will allow you to share up to 10 photos and videos in one Instagram post - they help keep the attention of users on your post for longer.

The Instagram algorithm supports posts with accurate, relevant hashtags

Instagram hashtags are still an effective way to get more followers and increase your reach. The Instagram algorithm has always supported posts with accurate, relevant hashtags and now they are more important than ever.

Instagram added the ability to subscribe to hashtags, which means that instead of users having to scroll through the feed to find your tagged content, your posts can automatically appear in the feeds of potential new followers.

Tip # 5: Optimize hashtag strategies for Instagram

Do some research and create a list of relevant hashtags, one for each post you are planning.

The Instagram algorithm fights with bots and rewards live chat

While the Instagram algorithm is still mainly focused on interaction, it continues to constantly (quietly) make unannounced changes to the rules. You've probably noticed strange comments, such as ‘Great pic!’ or ‘Nice feed!’ on your posts - they most likely come from bots. Instagram struggles with this phenomenon and blocks bot accounts.

Tip # 6: Write your caption to encourage conversations from followers

Create content that includes a question or some kind of opinion from subscribers. In no case should you leave user comments unanswered (see Tip 2)! Strive for genuine communication, not only in the headers and comments, but also in the content you create.

Image by Sarah Roizman

The Instagram algorithm shows you the posts of the users you engage with the most

If you regularly interact with a specific account, you’re telling Instagram that you like the content of that account. This is why, most likely, you will see posts of best friends and favourites at the top of your feed. The same rule applies to users who like your content! If they regularly like, comment, save your content or watch stories, then they are more likely to see your later posts.

You want prospective followers to know exactly what to expect when they follow you, so it’s very important that you take the time to plan the look of your Instagram feed before posting content as we all know - first impressions count.

Instagram algorithm rewards you for using all its features

Since the Instagram algorithm supports frequent interaction and activity, it makes sense to say that you will also be rewarded for using all the platform features!

Instagram is updated regularly, introducing more and more new features. By testing these new features, you can increase the reach and visibility of your posts.

Since the launch of Instagram Stories, many new features have appeared, such as polls, gifs, swipe up and more.

Tip # 8: Always try new features

Since the Instagram algorithm rewards you for using all its features, it’s important to keep track of new updates. You will not only achieve your goal, but also be one step ahead of trends!

Now users see in their feed only the posts of the accounts to which they are subscribed, as well as advertising content. However, this may change soon. Instagram is testing featured posts. You will begin to see content that, according to Instagram, you might like based on your interests.

For example, if you follow fashion bloggers, you’re likely to start seeing more of this content in your feed. Instagram confirmed the test by commenting on The Verge's statement: ‘We regularly test new ways to connect you to interesting content on Instagram.’

This means that if a user likes or comments on your page, then his friends can start to see it. For users, this means that engagement will become an increasingly important factor.

To conclude, despite the fact that changes to the Instagram algorithm seem complicated, it only encourages users to provide better and more thoughtful content.

If you treat the innovations as a method for creating deeper ties with your followers, it becomes obvious: there is nowhere else to find an audience so loyal, who values you and your product. These people are your capital, they are ready to buy, which is the best reward for all the efforts that you make to create the perfect account.

What needs to be done today to get a good response on Instagram tomorrow? Optimize your content and increase your reach by applying to your Instagram strategy all the knowledge we’ve shared!

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