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How does the IG algorithm work?There are four “signals” that determine the ranking of your IG Post

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Social media, like search engines like Google, regularly updates its algorithms to ensure that it can push content that users are really interested in and improve the user experience. Recently, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri wrote an article* on the official website to explain the algorithm of IG. The following is a summary of the main points of the article and the implications for Marketers.

Instagram’s calculus mechanism

Mosseri begins by pointing out that there is no single “Instagram algorithm”! Instagram decides what content to push based on different “signals” from users, publishers, and post content. Different pages within Instagram (including Explore, Stories, Reels, etc.) have their own unique algorithms based on the user’s intentions and habits. For example, Instagram knows that people want to see their friends and people they follow in their feeds and Stories, so it pushes the latest posts from people they follow. On the contrary, users like to use Explore to discover new information, so the algorithm mechanism of Explore is different from that of Feeds and Stories.

Top 4 “Signals” That Affect Posts on IG Feed Rankings

Instagram collects thousands of signals to determine what to push – including users’ interests and usage habits, information about the publisher, when posts were uploaded, and more. Here are the top four “signals” that affect the content of your feed and Stories, in descending order of importance:

(1) Post information – including the basic information of the post (such as upload time, video length, etc.) and popularity (such as the number of likes) of the post

(2) Publisher information – Instagram uses this information to determine whether a user will be interested in the publisher’s content (e.g., a record of the user’s interaction with the publisher’s content)

(3) User Activity Records – based on the user’s past activities (e.g., posts that have been liked), to derive content that may be of interest to the user

(4) User’s interaction with others – Determine whether a user will be interested in his post based on the user’s past interaction with an individual publisher

Instagram’s primary purpose in collecting these signals is to infer whether a user will interact with a post or not, so as to decide whether or not to push the post. What Instagram wants to know most is: Will users spend time browsing content? Will users like, comment and bookmark this post? Will users click through to the publisher’s profile? In summary, the more likely a user is to interact with a post, the higher the post’s ranking.

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The key to ranking is to increase user engagement

To improve your IG Post rankings, start by convincing Instagram that your audience has a good chance of engaging with your posts. In addition to the content and popularity of your post, it also depends on your audience’s past interactions with your brand. To increase brand engagement on Instagram, Marketers can consider the following:

(1) Carousels have a 3x higher engagement rate than regular posts

According to Hootsuite’s research, carousel posts have 3x higher engagement rates and 1.4x higher reach rates than other posts. Carousel posts also provide users with more information, increasing their incentives to share and favorite posts. For advertised products, carousel posts give users more confidence and intent to buy by giving users a multi-faceted view of the product details, while for informational posts, carousel posts can also provide more detailed information.

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(2) Produce diversified content

Brands post on Instagram at an average frequency of 1 per day. To keep your audience fresh about your brand’s content, you need to constantly explore new themes, angles, and ways to create content. Marketers can experiment with different types of formats (single-image posts, IGTV, Stories, etc.) to see which genre and format reflect best. In addition, certain types of posts, such as instructional videos and giveaways, are more likely to attract viewers to collect and interact.

(3) In addition to brands, audiences are also content creators

Brands should see Instagram as a platform to communicate with their audience, rather than sending messages out unilaterally. While it’s important to encourage viewers to share and bookmark their posts, brands can also use content from their viewers to drive engagement. When a viewer posts a post that hashtags your brand, you can share his post on Stories to resonate with other viewers. There are also many interactive elements in Stories, such as polls and open-ended Q&A. Marketers can also collect topics that the audience likes through these interactions.

*Mosseri’s article also explains the calculus mechanics of Explore and Reels, and readers can read the original article here if they are interested.

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