7 minute read
Inside the Instagram algorithm and how to beat it in 2021
Updated on January 23, 2021 by Pete Campbell
Gaining followers on Instagram is as much of a science as it is a testament to your great content.
If you want to gain more followers on Instagram, then you need to understand how the Instagram algorithm works. Before you jump on to this platform and expect to get huge returns, it is important for you to know how, exactly, you can beat the Instagram algorithm.
Instagram can be a primary source of organic traffic to any business’s website, but to gain more than ten thousand followers by beating the Instagram algorithm is a tough ask. It is believed that only 10% of your target audience will actually see your post in their feed. To make the best use of the remaining 90%, you must know and meet the demands of Instagram’s algorithm.
The job of meeting or beating this algorithm has become even tougher due to several new factors and features of Instagram, such as:
- Instagram stories
- Insights and more
To further complicate things, Instagram is now hiding the likes! Therefore, you may be left wondering what metrics to use to measure the performance of your posts and find ways to leverage the Instagram algorithm.
There are three factors that you should keep in mind. These are:
- Engagement: The Instagram algorithm ranks the most engaging posts higher. When a user likes someone’s posts, they see more posts from that account in their feed. This means that it will take a long time for them to reach to the bottom of their newsfeed. They may end up seeing only 10% of the posts.
- Time: The Instagram algorithm also believes that time is everything on the social platform regarding ranking a post. This helps Instagram make money from ads. Knowing this means that keeping users engaged will help Instagram, and thereby help you.
- How the user has interacted with similar posts. The Instagram algorithm detects what might interest a user based on how that user has interacted with similar content. If your posts are similar to those, yours will be shown more often. Interest the user has conveyed. This signal is based on whether the user interacts with other, similar posts and accounts when they explore Instagram. Users who also engage with similar content are more likely to see your own posts.
The goal to monetize
Let’s not forget that Instagram monetizes posts, since it is a business and is out there to make money. There are several reasons for this, including:
- By being one of the most important channels in social media
- By keeping the users on the app for as long a time as possible
Instagram doesn't do much to keep users on their platform - users that do everything. It's for this reason Instagram favors only those accounts that can keep their followers active and engaged in their account for a long time. The easiest ways to ensure that your audience is engaged are to:
- Post Photos and Videos
- Post Stories
- Use Instagram Live
- Use IGTV
- Reply to comments
- Reply to the DMs
All of these things build and sustain engagement. If you are already doing these, as you should, but still not getting the desired results, then the problem may lie in how often you are doing them. If you are not doing these often or at all, start doing these immediately.
Hire a professional
There's no shame in admitting the fact that not everyone is knowledgeable about the ever-changing Instagram algorithm. When hiring outside help, remember to research the company and choose one that has experience specifically with Instagram for businesses.
Since Instagram is a visual platform, images will form the core of your strategy. If you aren't good at taking pictures or selecting ones that benefit your brand image, professionals could be the heroes you need. They'll help you:
- To stay focused
- To prevent matters from getting worse
- To ensure that you stick to the set standards and demands of the Instagram algorithm
- To ensure quality in your posts to boost engagement and level of performance
- To make your posts really stand out
Professionals will not only help you with the imagery but will also help you in establishing two-way communication with your highly engaged users. Just make sure that you find someone who is a bit different, fulfills your needs, and fits your budget.
Understand the business model of Instagram
You'll know how the Instagram algorithm works when you know how the business model of Instagram works. This is an important step because you will know how it is designed and what its goals are.
Instagram is free to use and does not earn anything directly from users. It relies on the revenue generated from advertisers to make a profit. The process works like this:
- Instagram optimize its algorithm and shows content that it believes the users will enjoy
- It makes sure that users keep using the app for a long, long time so that they can show more ads
Simple as it may sound, it's not easy to retain users on the app unless they provide an exceptional user experience.
Making the IG algorithm work in your favor
- Make sure that you post often. This will keep your posts fresh and engaging.
- Increase both the quality and quantity of your posts. The algorithm will automatically break up multiple photos so that these are diversified when people view it.
Other points to consider are:
- To be personable
- To use hashtags well
- To run contests
- To encourage users to turn on notifications
Also make sure that you post more videos on Live, Story, or IGTV to increase engagement time and post it when people are online. All these steps will surely help you to beat the IG algorithm in 2020.
Instagram algorithm FAQs
Can I beat the Instagram algorithm?
To some degree, you can beat the Instagram algorithm. There are three factors that you should keep in mind. These are - engagement, time, and how the user has interacted with similar posts.
Should I hire a professional to manage my Instagram account?
A professional will help you to stay focused, prevent matters from getting worse, ensure that you stick to the set standards and demands of the Instagram algorithm, ensure quality in your posts to boost engagement and level of performance, and to make your posts really stand out.
What are some tips to make the Instagram algorithm work in my favor?
Make sure that you post often. This will keep your posts fresh and engaging. Increase both the quality and quantity of your posts. The algorithm will automatically break up multiple photos so that these are diversified when people view it. Be personable. Use hashtags well. Run contests. Encourage users to turn on notifications.