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Today I want to talk about the Instagram algorithm, and why understanding it can help you improve the results you get on the platform, in terms of marketing.
Firstly, what exactly is an “algorithm?”
An algorithm is a set of calculations and factors that different platforms use, to determine which pieces of content to show their users. It’s how Instagram determines which posts are more relevant to the person.
Instagram has several different factors that really determine what posts they show their users. However in this blog, I will cover the three main factors you should focus on – Timeliness, Interest and Relationships, and why understanding them can help you get seen by more people.
Timeliness simply comes down to how recent the post is and how long ago someone has visited Instagram. In this case, they’re trying to show their users new and exciting content. They’re less likely to show someone’s post from a year, month or week ago over someone who posted just a few hours ago.
What this means for your business is that it is incredibly important to stay consistent with your posting on the platform. You need to continue to post on a regular basis over time, and make sure your posts are recent enough to be registered and come up.
A great benchmark I’ve always suggested for small businesses is to aim for one post per day. This keeps you up in people’s feeds on a consistent basis, and can help build one of the other factors, the relationship between you and the user.
Instagram also gives you insights into the best times to post, once you have a business profile set up too. You can see when your followers are most active and likely to be online, making it perfect for you to get your post seen.
The next factor that comes into play is about what level of interest someone has in the type of content you’re posting. Instagram wants to serve people more of what they already like, because then they’re more likely to keep consuming the content and stay on the platform.
How this works is based on what people interact with the most. If someone really enjoys looking at and engaging with quote posts on Instagram, then Instagram is going to show and prioritise quote posts in that person’s feed.
For instance, the same thing applies if someone engages more with food posts. It registers that this person really enjoys consuming content related to food, and will prioritise showing them food posts.
What this means for your business, is that you need to start posting content that genuinely interests them.
There are some easy ways to start learning more about what your audience is interested in. You can start by analysing which content is getting the most responses on your page and on other pages in your industry.
Then start building content similar in nature, that is either providing them with valuable information, is visually appealing or exciting.
The final factor I will cover is the relationship between the person posting and the person consuming it. In this case, Instagram is really trying to build up their platform and promote engagement between it’s users.
People are more likely to engage with posts from people they have a significant relationship with. Think about it. We engage more with content from our friends and family, and as a result, Instagram will try to make sure we see that content first.
Now your business page most likely isn’t best friends with any of your followers… Yet.
However there is a way to strengthen the relationship between your business page and your followers. Instagram doesn’t have any tools to do background checks on you or the other person, so instead they rely on the data they do have.
This means that Instagram will register a relationship based on how often the business and follower engage with one another, how often either of them comments on each other’s posts, if they share the post themselves or tag anyone on it.
All these little actions show that this follower is more likely to engage with your content. Therefore Instagram will trigger your posts to be seen more on their feed, over other people they follow.
For you and your business, you need to start spurring on those little engagements. Start adding calls-to-action in your posts and asking people to comment, tag or like the post.
Also, start posting content that is worth talking about and sharing. Again, you’ll get a feel for this over time, once you see which posts are performing better. However, you can also do market research and see what types of content other pages are getting great responses with.
Finally, take the time to reply to comments and ask your followers questions, to encourage more engagement and interaction. Instagram is going to love your posts, if it can see all these big conversations taking place on them. Your followers will also love how active you are too.
So those are the three main factors of the Instagram Algorithm, as well as some areas you can start to focus on when you create content.
Remember, post consistently. Instagram prioritises fresh content to show its users.
Next, make sure you post relevant content for your audience. Post content they are actually interested in and will want to engage with and share.
Finally, encourage people to engage with your posts. Engage back with your audience and ask them questions. Start conversations and really build up your audience.