How Instagram Algorithm Works In 2022: A Social Media Marketer’s Guide

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In this article, we explain how the Instagram algorithm works in 2022 to give you pointers on how to raise your engagement and following by playing by the platform’s rules.

Social media platforms’ algorithms are the pain points of marketers all over the world. They change all the time, they are unpredictable, and we are dangerously dependent on them.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid learning how the algorithms work. You need to regularly update your knowledge, and adjust your content to the newest fashion. Simply “producing awesome content”, as Google constantly tells us, is usually not enough. No matter how good your ideas are, they are no use if no one sees them.

Since the inception of 2010, Instagram has proved its worth. The platform that was earlier known as a photo-sharing hub has gradually developed itself into aneCommerce platform with Instagram Shopping. Today most businesses use Instagram as a marketing tool to increase their reach across the platform. In the earlier days of Instagram, hashtags became a trend for easy grouping and searching. Later on, a feature of product tagging was introduced. It made it easier for people to search for the products. In 2016, Instagram algorithms made a major change. It introduced Instagram stories, live videos, and new business tools to display their products and gain more followers to their profile.

Instagram has been continuously working to provide a better shopping experience to the users. With the launch of shoppable features like checkout on Instagram, stories, and reels, Instagram has paved its own path.

However, before we dive into technicalities, there is a couple of things you should realize.

Now that we are settled on the main principles, let’s discuss what exactly Instagram takes into account when it decides where to place your posts on your followers’ screen.

Instagram highlights four main concepts they rely on in their work on the algorithm: Interest, Relationships, Originality, Usage, and Timeliness. Let’s break down these concepts one by one and see how they affect the user’s feed, Reels, and Stories.

The recent Facebook and Instagram algorithm changes have provided more weightage to the user-generated content. It is the images, texts, videos, and reviews posted by the followers about a specific brand. The benefit of UGC content is that it serves as the best social proof and humanizes your brand. Looking after the content from trustworthy customers helps in building trust. If you are looking forward to getting your product ranked amongst your desired audience, opting for user-generated content is the best option.

You should engage with your audience at the maximum. Build a relationship by interacting with your customers outside of your content by leaving engaging comments on the relevant posts. This strategy helps you gain more followers on Instagram and make your Facebook and Instagram algorithms game strong.

For example, as a merchant, you can occasionally conduct question and answer sessions, ask for a poll, and maintain the craze amongst the audience for your business.

Hashtags place a crucial role in getting your content ranked on basis of the Instagram Algorithm in 2022. As it improves your product visibility and makes it easier for people to find your product.  For this purpose, community hashtags, location hashtags, geo-tags, and brand hashtags are quite popular.

Besides, images prove to add value to your content. Facebook and Instagram algorithms pay more heed to visual content. According to the recent survey by Buzzfeed, it is assumed that the visual content tends to get 3.2x more engagements than the content without images. So, as a brand, you should add more images and hashtags while posting on Facebook and Instagram.

Surfacing your content to the right audience should be your focus. Since the Facebook and Instagram algorithm considers timeliness as an essential factor, you need to be more active. Make sure that you post at the peak of the hour when your customers are most active.

A video plays a vital role in your business’ online marketing strategy. On Facebook and Instagram, videos happened to become one of the primary engagement tools.

Seeing the craze for the videos, Facebook has introduced a live shopping feature and later on Shopping reels on Instagram. The live shopping feature allows you to have one-on-one interactions with people, share more information about your products, answer questions, and respond to your customer’s reactions.

As a business, your motto is to get maximum traffic to your brand. But while posting your content on your Facebook Shop or Instagram profile, avoid being too promotional. The recent Facebook and Instagram algorithm changes focus more on the authenticity of your content. So, while posting your content across social commerce channels; make sure to provide information about your services, products, or business in your description rather than using engagement baits.

Facebook and Instagram Stories are the most effective way to get hold of your audience’s interest in your products. Your Facebook and Instagram algorithms rank the stories according to how active a shopper is with your brand. Stories are the fastest way to provide the details to the audience and build trust., resulting in static Instagram posts and increased reach.

Due to the increase in the number of new chat features on Facebook & Instagram, the trend of private messaging is gaining popularity. You can use the feature of direct messaging for outreach. More and more customers prefer sending direct messages to ask questions and get in touch with the businesses. As direct messaging allows you to have a longer conversation and builds one-to-one relationships, you can use this feature to your advantage.

Instagram’s goal is to raise user engagement. The more they like, share, and comment, the more time they spend using the platform, the more ads they’ll see, the more money Instagram makes.

So Instagram does its best to predict how much the user will engage with each new post using machine learning and the user’s past behavior, and shows each one what they are most likely to engage with.

The platform evaluates users’ interests based on the content they interact with: the more cooking content they follow and engage with, the more posts about cooking they will see.

From publishers’ perspective, it means that to reach their target audience, they need to clearly indicate what their content is about. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Post high-quality pictures and videos. Instagram’s machine learning is able to predict what the post is about from the visual component alone.
  • Add hashtags. Hashtags are still considered important for the algorithm (even though they are not the only indicator).
  • Use keywords. Instagram SEO is a reality – the algorithm considers keywords you use in the post to determine its audience, so make sure you pay attention to the phrases you use.

The right hashtags and keywords give you the most chances to appear on users’ Explore pages, so pay special attention to them. Essentially, they enable you to reach people who don’t follow you (yet).

With Reels, it’s recommended to share the videos to your main feed, using hashtags to increase discoverability, and including captions to make your content more accessible.

To do proper hashtag and keyword research and understand which keywords could bring you more followers and interactions, you can use Jasaseosmm. Jasaseosmm’s Instagram monitoring analyzes what keywords are the most popular and get the highest engagement.

Timeliness

Even though the order of the posts in the feed isn’t chronological anymore, the time the post was shared is still very important.

Instagram doesn’t necessarily show you more recent posts when you log in, as a rule, it depends on how often you use the app. The more often your followers go to the app, the more recent posts they see. And the opposite, if they scroll through Instagram once in a few days, they will see more posts than are more than a couple of days old.

For Stories, the age of the post plays a bigger role: stories that are older than 10 hours tend to get more views, so it’s a good idea to schedule a Story post once every 10 hours.

Relationships and interactions

This might be the most obvious one but it’s also the most important one.

Instagram places great importance on the content you interact with. It notes down every like, Story view, and comment you make on the app trying to determine what kind of relationship you have with the author.

Just like with Facebook’s “prioritize your friends and family” motto, Instagram tries to figure out how close you are with the people you follow. It, therefore, gives priority to people you’ve interacted with a lot previously (liked, shared, and commented on their posts) as well as people you’ve been tagged with in photos.

For the Feed, it prioritizes posts based on the following questions:

  • Time spent: Are you going to spend time on the post?
  • Likes: How likely are you to like the post?
  • Comments: How likely are you to comment on the post?
  • Saves: How likely are you to save the post?
  • Taps on Profile: How likely are you to tap on the profile after seeing the post?

Seeing these questions, it’s obvious that in order to appeal to Instagram’s algorithm you need to create posts that encourage comments, saves, and profile checks. Besides, the more time people spend on your post, the more Instagram will like it.

Stories also give you a lot of additional opportunities for engagement with various stickers and polls, so be sure to use them!

Besides interest, timeliness, and relationship, there are additional factors that also play a role.

Read; How To Create Viral Content On Tiktok 2022

Usage

Instagram’s algo also takes into account how the user spends time on Instagram.

Do you watch videos or pay more attention to pictures? Do you read ling captions? Do you like carousel-type posts? How often do you log in?

All these behavioral patterns are noticed by the app and affect what content you see.

That’s why you need to do thorough audience research in order to win the Instagram algorithm.

Originality

One of the aspects that Instagram takes into account is the originality of the posts. The algorithm punishes posts that:

  • Include pictures or video that has already been published on the platform.
  • Include visible watermarks.
  • Are screenshots from other social media platforms and feature their logos.

12 DOs and DON’Ts of the Instagram algorithm

Now all of this is great, but what are our options as marketers? How to make sure the users engage and the algo deems the content as relevant and interesting?

1. DO: measure the engagement

It’s always important to first measure what’s already working, improve what’s good already, and get rid of what’s not.

Once you’ve been on Instagram for a while, posted frequently, and got enough data to analyze, go to Posts engagement on your Instagram Insights page and try to find patterns of which content performs best. Once you know what type of posts perform best (the type of content as well as its voice and its form), keep producing similar content and making it better.

2. DO: test new content

As good as your usual content is, your users will eventually get bored of the same type and the same form. Besides, even if something works well already, it doesn’t mean something else can’t work even better. Experiment and see what your followers and Instagram algo robots have to say.

3. DO: post at the right times

Despite the plethora of research on the perfect times to post, there’s no real way around testing what works for you and your brand.

Your timing will depend on your time zones and the time zones of your target audience, the age group of your followers, and the type of content you post.

4. DO: use Stories’ stickers to encourage interactions

Stories live a bit separately from Instagram and their influence on the algorithm differs from feed posts and Reels.

Yet, they are the most popular type of content on the platform. Stories are special: they provide a sense of urgency and they appear on top of the Instagram feed, which makes them more noticeable and more appealing.

Besides, they provide an authentic and speedy way to engage with followers. Instagram provides users with many many ways to engage with their followers through Stories, from question stickers to polls and customizable prompts to share photos. Use this opportunities to raise your engagement and appeal to the algorithm.

Basically, Stories are a must.

5. DO: post Reels

Vertical video is probably the surest way to get ahead on the platform.

Instagram favours the accounts that make and post a lot of Reels. Perhaps, because it’s simply longer: you spend more time watching a video than you do looking at a photo.

Post Reels but do make sure that these are not just videos downloaded from TikTok: as I mentioned before, the Instagram algorithm doesn’t like seeing other platforms’ logos. If you want to repurpose content from other platforms, use the original video without any watermarks.

Read; 8 Tips Facebook and Instagram Marketing Strategies

6. DO: go live

Again, live content is what’s been booming lately on both Instagram and Facebook.

It’s the quickest way to reach your audience, it’s authentic and engaging by its nature. It’s also something that your followers are very likely to see despite Live videos having no effect on the algorithm. Your followers get notifications when you’re going live, and you go on top of the followers’ feed straight away. Something to be aware of!

7. DO: post frequently

Instagram doesn’t downrank for frequent content, so you can only win if you post often. You’ll have more chance the algo finds your content relevant and timely and shows it to the followers quicker.

8. DO: Include CTA

Engagement is one of the drivers of Instagram’s algorithm, so you should be doing anything in your powers to encourage it.

In addition to posting engaging content you can remind your followers to interact with your posts.

Add a call-to-action in your caption or even on your visual and ask people to share or save your post. This can help raise your engagement rate and will signal the algo to move your posts higher on the feed.

9. DO: optimize with keywords

Both the algorithm and the search features take keywords in your posts into account. So don’t forget to include relevant keywords when writing your caption.

You can use tools like Awario to find keywords and hashtags popular in your niche and see which of them bring more followers.

10. DON’T: post low-quality content

It may sound obvious, but I want to reiterate: Instagram doesn’t like low-quality grainy videos. It’s not just a question of people not being able to make out anything, the bots themselves will downvote your content if its poor quality and looks like it was shot on a potato.

So refrain from posting dark, grainy, and low-quality videos and photos.

11. DON’t: repost existing content

Instagram’s algorithm downvotes unoriginal content that includes pictures and video. This can be hard if you want to share some viral trends since you’ll have to create your own spin on them.

12. DON’T: break Instagram’s Community Guidelines

Violating community guidelines can lead to temporary bans or limitations on certain actions, but it also diminishes your chances to get on top pf the main feed or on the Explore tab. Don’t post nudity, violent and upsetting images, and mean comments – and you should be fine.

That’s it, folks! Now you’re equipped enough to go out there and do your best to reach your followers organically. Also, keep in mind thatJasaseosmm monitors Instagram and will help you reach the target audience that’s not following you yet   Let me know if you have any other tips and tricks in the comments!

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