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By now, I am sure you will have seen people posting that Instagram has a new algorithm and that unless you change your name to Mr Banana Hammock and sign an allegiance to Lord Voldemort – you will not show up to your followers.

We have done some digging and seen that in all likelihood, this Insta rumour is incorrect.  Instagram hasn’t changed its algorithm since 2018 but what it has done more recently is place less of an emphasis on post likes. 

Both Facebook and Instagram have been drifting away from likes for a while now, especially as ways to measure accurate social proof and engagement.   With the rising popularity of Instagram and Facebook stories (and now Reels), fewer businesses are measuring engagement with likes, choosing to focus on watch times, comments, shares and saves.  We have seen some influencers and content creators suggest that saving posts is the most important thing you can do to help content show up in feeds.  Our advice would be to optimise your content for saves as Instagram is introducing hiding likes on posts in more countries. 

If this is the case, then how does the Instagram algorithm work when it comes to posts? 

According to Instagram, there are 6 key factors that influence the Instagram algorithm for feed posts:

1. Interest

2. Relationship

3. Timeliness

4. Frequency

5. Following

6. Usage

Factor #1: Interest

Your Instagram feed isn’t only based on who you follow, it’s also based on the accounts and types of posts you’ve liked previously.  Your feed has been curated from a mix of all your Instagram behaviour; the accounts you interact with the most, the people you are tagged in photos with and the types of posts you like and comment on. 

This is why consistently showing up on Instagram is so important. It sends positive signals to the Instagram algorithm — and gives your audience more opportunities to interact with your content. 

Factor #2: Relationship 

The Instagram algorithm wants to show you posts from your friends, family, and the accounts that you care about.  Instagram uses your behaviour on the app to decide who you care about the most.  Thomas Dimson, an Instagram software engineer, shared how Instagram could theoretically figure this out:

  • People whose content you like (possibly including stories and live videos)
  • People you direct message
  • People you search for
  • People you know in real life

Instagram will try to calculate this relationship (and your interest level) as soon as you follow someone by serving you their content and monitoring how you engage with it.

With this in mind think about how your followers engage with your content and how you can encourage more engagement like this so that your posts continue to show up in their feeds.  

Factor #3: Timeliness

Instagram’s algorithm pays attention to how much engagement your Instagram post gets, and it also looks at how long ago the photo was posted. It cares about when you posted, because it always wants to show the latest, most interesting posts.

If you can work out the best time to post on Instagram, you can hack the algorithm to increase your reach and get more likes and followers.

And if you post at a time when your followers are online and most active, you give yourself a better chance of getting more likes. 

Factor #4: Frequency 

If you’re a frequent scroller through Instagram, your feed will look more chronological. This is because Instagram tries to show you the best posts since your last visit. If you check the Instagram app less often, your feed will be sorted into what Instagram thinks you’ll like, instead of chronologically. 

Factor #5: Following

How many people do you follow on Instagram? If you follow a lot of people, then Instagram has more options to choose from, so you probably won’t see all of the posts from every account. Make sure you check who you are following regularly and remove any inactive followers or bots. If a large percentage of your following is inactive, they could be doing more harm than good for your account’s algorithmic ranking. 

Factor #6: Usage

If you spend a lot of time on Instagram, you’re going to see more posts as Instagram digs deeper into its catalogue.

If you spend enough time on Instagram, you can even run out of new content to see. Once this happens, the algorithm will serve you suggested content from new accounts — based on your previous interactions.

However, if you only spend a few minutes in the app each day, then you’re going to just get the day’s highlights from the algorithm. 

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