I’m going to start this by saying one thing… Instagram is one crazy B. I remember the first time I logged on to IG back in 2012; it was a new platform where people could post pictures. That little platform has, of course, evolved into well, what it is today— an app used by 1 billion people. As time has passed, it grew from posting images, images that would lead to mass followings, to fostering a robust influencer market, to eventually catching the eye of Facebook in 2012.
For the first couple of years after the Facebook purchase, Instagram continued to enjoy a kind of Renaissance; we saw the rise of likes, follower counts, and celebrity statuses. Companies took note, those who got in the game early were able to amass followings that would go on to increase their business's visibility, reach, and influence. At the same time, we saw the rise of the Instagram influencer, people who put in the time to create content that quite frankly no one was creating. We saw bloggers who had had successful side hustle blogs take their blogs to a new level with their found celebrity statuses. E.g., Gal Meets Glam now a popular clothing line, The Balanced Vegan (now Blonde), a now successful wellness guru, and Man Repeller — now an uber-successful online publication.
For those first years, the feed was very kind to these people, including me, and others by being focused in chronological order and making it “easy” for people to land on the discover page (the best way to be found on social back then). But then, in the summer of 2016, Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, decided to “shake” things up and instituted the new Software-based Instagram Algorithm. The Chronological feed most of us loved, and depended on became a thing that no one entirely understood. Although the impact wasn’t precisely immediately felt, it did start to slow down growth, likes, and exposure. Then sometime in May of this year, I noticed a significant shift in my engagement––all of a sudden, my reach was only reaching half of the people it had before, and sadly it has stayed that way. Since my work is largely based on IG I’ve been on an undertaking to understand the platform, how it works, how we work, how we can work together. In an attempt to be a better marketer, person, and resource, I’m introducing a new concept to this site: informing you of changes, techniques, and methods to improve your experience not only on just IG but all relevant social media platforms out there!
The first thing I want to break down is how the Instagram Algorithm works. And that break down my friends is a very exact thing I can give you, based on the fact that Instagram let us know how it worked, back in June of 2018. At a small conference with reporters, that frankly, I hadn’t heard of it until I went digging for answers. Link to the best article I found and the source I am citing from today, you can find the breakdown based on that info below.
So here it is:
The IG machine-based algorithm works in three parts: Interest, Recency, and Relationship. So before I break that down, what is happening within your personal IG platform is this: the platform is mirroring you, learning your behaviors, and predicting the visuals that will speak to you. Why does it do this? Well, it wants to keep you engaged, it wants to keep you on the platform longer, it wants you to purchase from the specifically targeted ads and products that it thinks you’re going to love.
How it works:
Interest — This is based on your internal IG shadow predicting and giving you what it thinks you’re going to like based on your past tendencies in the APP. I get a lot of food, travel photography, and personal friends’ images.
Recency — Not in chronological order, obviously, but the platform will still prioritize the timeliness of the post within that day, or a previous couple of days, from what I’ve observed on the later.
Relationship — Now, I think this one has become pretty freaking important, maybe even more than the other two. You’re going to see the content of people or accounts you have interacted with previously, by being tagged, liking their content, or commenting. Some may even say it now also depends on how much you interact in stories, but I’ll leave stories for another day.
Other notable factors that can influence your IG experience:
Frequency, how often you open the app. Again, the Algorithm will try to show you what it thinks you’re going to like the best based on your past behaviors. This will also play into how much you USE the APP; if you’re using it for less time than average, it’s again only going to show you a select bit of what it thinks is the best in your case.
There you have it, right from the horse’s mouth, how the IG works, well for now.
If you’ve read this far, thank you for your engagement… please like this post here, on IG, and share with those who might love it!
Note: While I think this is still pretty accurate information, I know that there are probably other factors that come in to play. In the next installments, I’ll be covering stories, IGTV, Direct Messaging, and other social media! Stay tuned.