Instagram Algorithm Tips

instagram algorithm tips

Understanding how the Instagram algorithm works can help you plan and define your Instagram strategy. The Instagram algorithm reads and measures specific things on the platform and if you’re not doing the things it’s looking for, you’re not taking full advantage of the platform.

Not many were aware that Instagram changed its algorithm in 2018, so here’s a run-down of 8  things that came into effect.

1. You need 4 word comments

Historically, any comment on your post would have counted as engagement. But with this new Instagram algorithm update, comments will only be counted as engagement if it includes 4 words or more.

This is a difficult one, as less engagement means less visibility and you can’t really control how many words people use when engaging with your content. But you can make sure that more of your messages are tempting longer replies in order to claw back some of the lost engagements.

So, don’t be surprised if your analytics are showing less overall engagement figures; it’s because the measure has changed.

2. 10% visibility

Only 10% of your followers will see your initial post on Instagram due to the Instagram algorithm, and if your post does well and receives a lot of engagement it will be shown to the other 90%.  If it doesn’t receive engagement, it will simply be left alone and be pretty much invisible to your followers.

Facebook’s algorithm reportedly uses a sample of 2%, so 10% on the Instagram algorithm seems like a good deal.

3. Don't repeat hashtags

Using the same hashtags in the same post or on multiple posts consecutively is seen as spamming by the Instagram algorithm, and will reduce visibility if it puts you in this category.  Instagram really wants to see a more refined use of hashtags in order to achieve a better experience for the user, and will really clamp down on this moving forward.

So if you have a go too hashtag list that you’ve copying and pasting, you’ll need to start thinking harder about the hashtags you’re using and start using new ones for every post.

4. Don't overload hashtags

You may have seen users cramming 30 hashtags into a post in a block in order to maximise their reach; no more.  The Instagram algorithm sees this as spamming, and will decrease your visibility.

Reportedly, the Instagram algorithm wants to see you using around 7-13 refined and defined hashtags in your posts, rather than using the allocated 30.  Following on from point 3, the fact that this figure is so low does give you some breathing space to be able to draw up 5 new hashtags for every post.

5. First comment hashtags don't count

You’ve probably seen people adding hashtags to the first comment rather than clogging up the body post message. Well, the Instagram algorithm has stopped crawling hashtags that appear in the comment section, so they won’t be used any more as a discovery tool.

So if you’re going to be using hashtags, make sure that you’re placing them in the body/message of your post and not in the comment section.

6. You have 60 minutes to reply

The Instagram algorithm will give you decreased visibility of you don’t reply back to people that have sent you messages or contacted on your comments within the hour.

This will certainly effect businesses who don’t monitor their accounts as carefully as they do with Twitter or Facebook, so something to think about with your monitoring strategy.

7. Use Insta Stories as much as you can

Instagram stories carries more weight now.  If you’re using stories there’s a better chance of you increasing your visibility as they see it as organic growth and you actively connecting with your communities.

Instagram sees this an important element for you to use growing your following.  Over the coming months don’t be surprised to see Story users gaining momentum and reaping the benefits of engaging using this tool.

8. Avoid editing after posting

If you made a mistake in your initial post and you ‘edit’ the live version, this is seen as a negative by the Instagram algorithm and it will reduce your visibility.  

If it’s a recent mistake, you are better off deleting the post and posting a new one in order to avoid the visibility penalty.

Take Away

So, Instagram is obviously quite happy with the growth it’s been prioritising over the past few years, and has now moved on to refining the user experience.  With this change in focus, we’ll see Instagram constantly improving its user experience over the coming months and years.

What does this mean?

Instagram is already a favourite with many, and we’ll probably see more and more people enjoying their experience of using the platform, resulting in more and more users.

Now is the time to really master your Instagram use and grow your following.

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