New Instagram Algorithm? Everything You Need To Know

With the heat social media platforms have been facing this year between data privacy and a seemingly non-stop changing algorithm, Instagram held a press conference in early summer to give a peak behind the iron curtain. So, is the Instagram algorithm changing again? Yes and no. 

For those trying to grow and maintain your social media following, it's been quite the emotional rollercoaster. Before you start hyperventilating into a bag, here's everything you need to know if you're looking to Instagram as a reach and engagement tool. 

  1. Feed Ranking Criteria focuses on interest, recency and relationship. Every user in Instagram has a unique feed curated based on:

    • Relationship: Are you engagement besties with the person who shared the post or are they someone you regularly creep on but don't comment or like? Posts from people you engage with most will be prioritized within the new algorithm. So if you want to creep on your best friend's ex-boyfriend's feed, you're going to need to search for him the old fashion way.

    • Interest: Does Instagram think you care about the post based past engagement? If you've been loving the cat videos for the last 6 months and suddenly you decide you like dog posts, you'll probably not see many in your feed unless you seek them out and start commenting, liking or sharing these posts.    

    • Recency: After moving away completely from the chronological feed, people were angsty about seeing the same posts from a week ago appear over and over again, so they found the middle ground. The platform erred on the side of recent posts over week old ones.

    • Secondary factors include: usage (how much time do you spend in the app), frequency (how often do you use the app), and following (if you follow a ton of people, they'll mix it up so you see a variety v. the same handles.)

  2. No preferential treatment on the content format (i.e. photo, video, story). Per my first point, users' feeds are optimized based on the type of content they're engaging with. If you don't give videos the time of day when you're scrolling through, don't expect to suddenly see a barrage of them. 

  3. There will be no more aggressive feed bumping. If you'll recall, sometimes while taking a leisurely scroll down photo lane, you were suddenly pushed back to the top of your feed. All the time spent and hard work! This has been updated so you can go at your own pace and not have to search for where you left off, calling for a much better (less resentful) user experience. 

  4. High frequency users are not ranked lower. Though, sometimes you wish they would be. Instagram confirmed handles are not reprioritized or penalized for pushing out posts at a high cadence per day. However, you should ask yourself if you're really pushing out quality content or you're just spamming people. 

    • Note: Some handles use bots to grow following and garner engagements, the platform will still pick up on any action seems "automated" and they'll get the boot.

  5. Hashtags. More is not more. Less is not less. How many people do you follow use the full 30 hashtags (and then add some more in the comments)? Guilty party here. Were people were getting penalized for putting out too little or too many hashtags? Rule of thumb still applies: use hashtags responsibly. For example, if you are tagging a vacation photo, do you need to hashtag #jetset #jetsetlife #jetsetter #jetsetnation and #jetsetting? No. Be concise and authentic based on the specific piece of content. Remember to mix them up between high and low volume too!

    • Quick note: Since Instagram allowed following of specific hashtags, users have the ability to unfollow or mark your hashtagged content as not relevant. 

Coming from the ad tech world, my perspective is it's a good thing to not know how the full sausage is made, maybe just know whether it's organic and safe. Having a dynamic platform is key to an ever evolving audience because it keeps content creators accountable for quality content. It also ensures that not one auntie or cousin is monopolizing your feed. If your cousin's sister's husband videos are not appealing to you, they're out!