How to Make the Most Out of Instagram’s Algorithm

Photo Credit: @kenzieclandis

We know how you feel; Instagram’s new algorithm has changed the game when it comes to growing your audience, and the mysterious feed pattern can feel like a daunting challenge to overcome.

This past March, Instagram announced that posts in the feed will no longer be shown chronologically, but instead will reflect the user’s specific preferences and presumed level of interest. This is nothing new. We’ve seen parent company Facebook’s algorithm reflect a similar formula over the years.

Instagram has not released an exact description of what goes into their new algorithm, but Buffer Social dove deep into their sources and found 7 key factors that Instagram uses to determine a user’s feed.

  1. Engagement:How popular the post is
  2. Relevancy:The genres of content you are interested in and have interacted with
  3. Relationships:The accounts you regularly interact with
  4. Timeliness:How recent the posts are
  5. Profile Searches:The accounts you check out often
  6. Direct Shares:Whose posts you are sharing
  7. Time Spent:The duration spent viewing a post

Instagram’s new algorithm doesn’t make growing your audience impossible, but more thought should be applied to your Instagram strategy to ensure you’re reaching the maximum amount of people you can. So what should you be doing differently to get the best results?

Focus on Engagement

Now that all of your followers may not be seeing every post you publish, your main focus should be increasing engagement on your photos to boost your chances of being seen. Including the right hashtags on each post will help you reach your target audience who will be more inclined to interact with your post by commenting, liking, or even better, direct sharing your photos with friends. Interact with your audience and try to create a conversation with every user who comments. Genuine networking has never been more important with Instagram’s focus on post engagement. 

Utilize User Generated Content

Building a community with your audience should always be a goal included in your social media strategy, but with Instagram’s changing algorithm, user-generated content can help your content be seen by more of your followers. By featuring UGC, you are showing your audience that you value their photos, encouraging more users to join in. This type of content is always a great way to connect with your audience to increase engagement and will ensure they will be checking back to see who is featured next (#3 on Buffer’s key factors list).

Stick to a Schedule

Even with the algorithm, timeliness is still a factor when determining which pictures your audience will see in their feed. New photos will always be favored, so sticking to a regular posting schedule will better your chances of being seen each day. We recommend posting about once a day.

Try Out Video

Time spent on each post is involved in determining your ranking, and what better way to achieve a longer user time than capturing your audience’s interest with an engaging video? A unique video will help your post stand out from the sea of others on the channel, and will be favored with the algorithm.

Diversify Your Descriptions

What compels a user to like or comment on a photo is often not only determined by the photo itself but an engaging caption that goes with it. Your caption should always be well thought out and specific to the goal you have in mind for each post. The best way to achieve this? Include a call to action! What do you want your audience to do after seeing your post? Be transparent and communicate with your audience and you will be sure to see results.

Change doesn’t have to be scary. Staying up to date on all of the social media trends will ensure that your strategy works best with what each channel is currently emphasizing. For more social media news, trends, and tips, check out the daily Katie Wagner Social Media blog here.

Follow Taylor Lizura:
Taylor is a Senior Content Editor at KWSM. She is a passionate storyteller who gets excited about learning the language of the brands she works with. Taylor loves film, television and Twitter.