Instagram’s algorithm has been a mystery like that of most other social network algorithms. There is a lot of speculation around it, but no one really knows what’s the real deal and how does the Instagram Algorithm work. There are so many marketers and content creators out there trying to decode Instagram’s algorithm so they can rank higher. There is also a large population of creators that are going down the path of questionable tactics to game the system to make things work for them
Instagram’s Creators account just put out some Frequently Asked Questions about the Instagram Feed and debunked a lot of myths that have been circling around. It is a great eye-opener for creators and marketers so they can concentrate on the right things and can realign their content strategy without having to worry about the algorithm too much.
Let’s get into the questions and answers that Creators account posted on their Instagram Stories. And we at Young Urban Project have also added our perspective to this.
Table of Contents
How often does Instagram change the algorithm?
Instagram’s response: Because it’s powered by machine learning, Instagram’s feed ranking is constantly adapting and improving based on new data.
Except for large platform changes or core updates which are pre-scheduled, the machine-learning algorithm keeps evolving in real-time. Machine learning is based on the user activity data that keeps flowing into the system. With each passing minute, more and more data keeps getting captured and the algorithm gets trained further on the data. This is how the algorithm can identify trends, learn new interactions and isolate inappropriate behaviour. Simple said, more the data, the better the algorithm will get.
Does the type of Instagram account you have impact ranking?
Instagram’s response: No, we do not favour posts from businesses or verified accounts in Feed. If you interact with that content more, of course it is more likely to appear at the top of your feed.
A lot of people have been divided over the speculation that an Individual account or a Business account gets you to rank higher in your followers’ Feed. Instagram has denied that. They have categorically said that if your followers interact with your content (or similar content) more, they are more likely to see your posts in their feed. This is where the importance of Engagement comes into the picture. Your posts must invite engagement from people. That is what matters to Instagram algorithm.
Does Instagram Algorithm favour Videos over Photos while ranking in Feed?
Instagram’s response: We don’t universally favour videos over photos. Your feed is customized for you, so it really depends on how you use Instagram. If you consistently watch a lot of videos, that will be reflected in your feed.
While Video content is claimed to perform better when it comes to engaging audience, and micro-video content is touted to be the next big thing, apparently video format isn’t something Instagram is pushing over photo content. This is contrary to the popular belief. Instagram says each person’s Feed is customised as per their own behaviour. If you are more inclined to engaging with video content, you will start seeing more of that on Feed. But if you consume more photo content, that’s what you’re going to see more.
Does the Instagram algorithm rank Posts, that get a lot of likes or comments in the first 30 minutes, higher than others?
Instagram’s response: No
A lot of creators think that their post has a chance of success only if it received great engagement during the first 30 minutes. However, this is not true. There is no threshold velocity for breaking out on Feed. A post that hasn’t met initial engagement might still catchup. It depends on a lot of factors – including the time of post, content of the post, if an influencer engages with the post slightly later.
Do Pods (i.e groups of people who agree to like and comment on each other’s posts) can help a post appear higher in Instagram Feed?
Instagram’s response: Authenticity and transparency are key to building sustainable engagement on Instagram. Trying to game the system may provide a short-term benefit, but it is not a recipe for success in long term. In addition, Instagram’s feed ranking is powered by machine learning, which is constantly adapting to new patters in data. So, it can recognize inauthentic activity and make adjustments.
Pods are groups (mostly on Instagram or Whatsapp) where a
few creators join in. The first rule of the Pod-Club, which is eerily similar
to that of Fight Club, is that no one talks about the Pod-Club.
But there are more rules – Everyone can share the link to their Instagram posts on the group and each member has to Like and/or Comment on the post. Now this is a way of gaming the system by faking engagement. But the machine learning algorithms can start identifying these trends since the same group of accounts will primarily have engagement from the same accounts – and a lot of times in the same time period (when the user posts the link to their new post on their Pod group chat). While this may trick brands and audience in short term, there could be repercussions to this – maybe a shadowban.
Instagram does not count something as a comment unless it’s more than 1/2/3 words. True or False?
Instagram’s response: False
Instagram is open about it – Size doesn’t matter! Or in this case, length of the comments. People have been believing that the comments have to be long for Instagram to consider them as engagement. While that might hold true for some platforms like Zomato, AirBnB, Tripadvisor, where a one-word comment doesn’t add value, but Instagram doesn’t consider that. So, go ahead and get those “Slayy” comments on your posts.
This FAQ answers by Instagram, about the Instagram Algorithm, removes a lot of speculation and uncertainty for Instagram marketers and Creators alike. This reiterates what we have been talking about on our Instagram and Twitter since a while now. Here are a few takeaways from this:
- Focus on your content and how it adds value to your audience. The Instagram algorithm is focused on doing the same.
- Do not try to game the system. You might see success in short term, but there will be repercussions in the long run.
- Keep a mix of content formats (Phots and Videos). Do not focus on one over the other. Make what works best for your audience.
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