How to Nail the Instagram Algorithm

The Insta algorithm has always been a curveball for marketers, so understanding how it works gives you a big leg up. From the switch in chronological timelines to the ‘what you love the most’ algorithm, we are now going to see the next evolution of the program which determines what the user will see first

It will be a new set of rules to play by, in a game most marketers had just accommodated for the current rules. So what does the future hold for Instagram marketers and their content’s exposure and engagement? Actually, it has more good things in store than meet the eye.

The the main driver behind the changes is Instagram’s desire to improve the experience for the user by freeing the stream of low-quality posts, pesky bot generated responses and artificially boosted likes. With that in mind it may seem obvious to mention that high quality content always wins.

And with the changes, the quality content will actually receive more exposure, due to the ‘deemed lesser content’ having been filtered out beforehand.This means, that Instagram will now ‘preview’ content to a limited 10 percent of your followers, to track and analyze its performance. If the content proves itself worthy, it will be shown to the remaining 90 percent.

From this somewhat innocent scenario, an important observation can be made: It’s all about the audience. You HAVE to know the audience’s preferences in great detail to produce content that will withstand the 10 percent ‘teaser test’.

It may sound like the goal is to please the 10 percent sample size, but that would be a trap. You won’t know the 10 percent of your audience that will see the post first. You can’t consider them a focus group, because they are not statistically significant in this scenario.

The Past: Quantity over Quality

With engagement on Instagram going down as much as 39%, it is important to understand that this downfall in engagement can be chalked up to the quality of content and how it was created.

It is imperative to understand how the landscape of Instagram changed over time for marketers.

The incentive structure dictated a behavior where the quantity and performance of content was the most important. This resulted in marketers and companies cranking out content, then artificially boosting the content to perform better.

After some time the legend of the shadowban. (getting secretly banned for poor quality content and spamming) started. Real or not, the intent of the shadowban was the same as that of the 2018 update. Filter out bad content, punish those who ‘cheat’.

Lets look at an example from a different perspective.

Once upon a time, the news were reported at 6:00 p.m. Between an incident happening and it being reported on the news, the story had time to develop, to be verified and properly produced. Anything after a certain time, couldn’t be reported until a later edition of the news.

Fast forward to today where everything is newsworthy and news are being fired off in tiny increments, news agencies are competing for the ‘first one on the people’s screen’.

The news consist of one or two lines of unverified info, often misleading or plain wrong, getting added to and updated as things progress almost live with an incident happening. The sole purpose of this behavior is to be the first to be read by all. Not to report the news the best.