- 1. What is Instagram algorithm?
- 2. How the Instagram algorithms changed over the years
- 3. How are different types of content ranked on Instagram?
- Instagram Feed algorithm
- Instagram Story ranking
- IGTV videos ranking algorithm
- Instagram Explore page algorithm
- Instagram followers ranking
What is Instagram algorithm?
Instagram ranking algorithm is a program that develops itself in response to tons of data, created by users every day. It prioritizes posts according to some particular signals, promoting the most relevant ones to the top, while others are placed further down in the user’s feed.
It isn’t correct to ask: did Instagram change its algorithm in 2020? Actually, Instagram updates the process of ranking every second, reacting to the posts and people’s feedback on them. To understand the process of ranking more properly, we should consider the history of ranking algorithms in greater detail.
How the Instagram algorithms changed over the years
Instagram didn’t rank the first posts anyhow in the newsfeed: it showed them according to the time of publication. Everything changed when both Instagram and Facebook (which now owns Instagram and passes on its algorithms) became flooded with unappropriate, useless and irrelevant content.
Facebook first attempted to range content according to its relevance in 2009. It happened because some posts gained many likes, but were of low quality and didn’t provide users with important information. The first Facebook ranking algorithm was called EdgeRank and measured three parameters: User Affinity, Content Weight, and Time-Based Decay.
Facebook used more than 100000 different ranking parameters in 2013 and Instagram, in theory, inherited them. EdgeRank retreated a little bit, but still was the basis for all the algorithms that followed. Parameters below were valuable for ranking posts higher during these years:
- A lot of likes and comments
- Comments with friends mentioned
- Many reactions on the post just after its publication
- A complete profile
These factors lowered the users’ scope:
- Likebait (or too many interactions with the content in comparison with other posts)
- Obviously advertising posts
- Texts that were published before
The new epoch started in the history of Instagram when in 2016 they announced that users’ feeds would prioritize “the moments you care about.”
In July 2016 Instagram publicly stated that their algorithms were changing because people missed 70% of posts. The sequence of posts became determined by the following factors:
- Likelihood that the content is interesting for users
- Relationship with the user posting (whether you are relatives, friends or coworkers)
- Relevance, or timeliness of posts
According to this announcement, in 2016 Instagram concentrated mostly on ranking the posts: all of them were still in the newsfeed, but prioritized differently. One of the main Instagram updates in 2016 is adding Stories – temporary videos and photos.
Engagement became the most important factor determining posts order in the newsfeed. The more people liked, shared, saved, scrolled and watched the content on a particular page, the higher this account was ranked in the feed.
Instagram algorithms mainly concentrated on Stories, as they increased the number of interactions (this is the first thing users saw in the app). What became obvious in 2018, Instagram algorithms didn’t rank videos higher than photos.
Instagram started to hide likes in 2019!
This had an immediate effect on the algorithms. Since then, thoughtful discussions in comments, reactions on Stories, reshares became more valuable than bare liking for Instagram ranking algorithms.
Likes are continuing to disappear up to now in different countries. Users can tap a heart under the post they like, they even can see people who liked it, but there is no number of them. You can manually count likes, if you have a lot of time.
Also, Instagram uses image recognition technology, which is similar to tag search. Now, you shouldn’t tag a cat under the photo: the app understands it’s there and shows to people who may like it.
The number of rumours about the platform has increased greatly. In the beginning of 2020, Instagram published a series of Stories on @creators with tutorials and rules. They confirmed officially everything that users tried to figure out themselves. Below, you’ll find the main factors determining the current Instagram algorithm.
How does Instagram algorithm work in 2020?
Basically, there are three parameters affecting ranking:
- Interest. Instagram promotes posts based on your previous interactions with similar publications. If you like and save a lot of drawing tutorials, your Explore page will be completely filled with related posts .
- Relationships. When you mention someone in the comments, tag their account on photos and videos, write direct messages – you are more likely to see their posts over others.
- Timeliness. The faster bloggers react to what is happening, the more likely their posts will appear in users’ feed. That’s why Stories matter, as they are the fastest response to the events taking place.
There are three additional factors that push particular posts forward in a user’s feed:
- Frequency. If opening Instagram very often, algorithms will demonstrate posts in almost chronological order.
- Number of followings. The more subscriptions users have, the fewer posts from a particular account they’ll see.
- Usage. Instagram algorithms will show selected publications during short sessions if users mainly visit accounts, or demonstrate more posts from their subscriptions in Explore tab if they spend time mostly surfing it.
According to what Instagram says, there are 4 main metrics, affecting the posts order. They are:
- Views (for videos and Stories)
The more of them are present on the page, the higher posts will be ranked by the Instagram algorithms.
How are different types of content ranked on Instagram?
There are four main types of content on Instagram: posts in Feed, Stories, IGTV videos, posts on the Explore page. Instagram ranks followers as well. Algorithms slightly differ in presenting them, and below you’ll find how.
Instagram Feed algorithm
According to Instagram official announcements, they don’t hide any posts from users. If we scroll down, we’ll see all of them and the question is only in their ordering. But a lot of people still claim they don’t see half of their feed.
Instagram Story ranking
Stories that appear first in your feed are supposed to be interesting for you by ranking algorithms. They belong to the profiles on which you react the most: like, reshare, comment and save.
As you remember, timeliness is one of the crucial factors for Instagram posts order. That’s why some accounts that post Stories very often show up first in a feed, even if you’ve never reacted to them.
IGTV videos ranking algorithm
Some users suppose IGTV to be dead, but it isn’t true. Here’s why:
It means that IGTV videos appear larger than common posts on an Explore Page, attracting more attention. They are absolutely worth publishing, as Instagram itself promotes them. Criteria of their ranking practically coincide with those of normal posts in Feed.
Instagram Explore page algorithm
An Explore page has its own algorithm, it’s extremely complicated and contains thousands of parameters. Everything was done to maximize personalization, and the page is very sensitive to any changes in the user’s behavior.
It’s important to understand the Explore page, because if you appear there, people who don’t know you will see your post. Tagging, as well as liking and commenting related posts, will be very helpful.
Instagram followers ranking
Instagram also ranks subscribers, and chronology isn’t the main factor which affects their order. The most active ones, as well as those who interacted with you last, are placed higher than others.
10 tips to use Instagram ranking for your own benefit
Now, as you’ve read so much about Instagram algorithms, it’s time to learn how to make them work on you!
Create content specifically for Instagram.
Study Instagram to properly understand its work. This app is more about beautiful visual materials, and if you are allowed to post 10 photos, do it! People open Instagram to see them, fulfill their expectations.
Post only materials of the highest quality.
Remember factors that affect Instagram ranking? If you post beautiful photos, useful videos and thoughtful materials, people will like, share, save them and turn back to your profile for more. After they do it, Instagram ranking algorithm will push you upwards in the feed.
If you first publish two posts a day and then keep silent for a month, people will leave your profile. Even after you start posting again, Instagram algorithms will downrank you as people will have forgotten about your existence.
Also, choose your style, colors, use the same filters. Your feed should be homogeneous, but not boring!
Know your audience.
To encourage people to interact with you, learn more about them. Always ask yourself: will this post be valuable for anyone? Would anyone want to see it? Ask questions in stories and posts, people will eagerly share their thoughts.
Use everything people can interact with.
Polls, surveys, tests, chats in posts and Stories – increase interaction. Engage people in controversial discussions, reply to comments, answer questions. Do everything to show that you are a real person and are close to people who read your blog.
Post IGTV videos.
They look bigger on an Explore page, users are more likely to tap on them. Also, remember about people who got used to video content.
Pay attention to the analytics.
Experiment and control the results. Take advantage of all the features Instagram offers to you: link sharing, location tagging, captioning, and more. Every time you add something special, check whether it works for you or not.
Write DMs to your subscribers, tag people on your photos and comment posts related to your topic.
Writing and answering direct messages, tagging people on photos are a signal for Instagram ranking algorithms that you are close friends. Commenting posts is beneficial because subscribers of another person will see you.
Choose the best time for posting.
Make publications when people are most active: after school or during lunch, in the US or in India. It’s beneficial to get reactions as fast as possible. You can get acquainted with statistics in the Insights tab.
Always stay tuned.
Instagram ranking algorithms are constantly evolving, and no one except their team knows how. Everything you can do is read as much as possible about them and put everything in practice.
Dispelling Instagram myths
What types of content does Instagram rank higher? Does shadow banning actually exist? Below, you’ll see the official Instagram team’s answers to many controversial questions and our personal observations, accompanied by statistics.
Truth: video and photo content are of equal value – this was announced officially. But people who post a lot of different types of content, especially many Stories, noticed an increase in their subscribers’ engagement.
Truth: it doesn’t matter what account type you have. Business and Personal accounts have their own benefits and disadvantages, but are ranked equally.
Truth: according to official statistics, people now see 90% of all the posts of their friends and favourite bloggers, and don’t miss anything. When there was chronological feed, people saw less than 30% of their friends’ posts. That’s why, turning back to chronological feed is now out of the question.
Truth: Instagram ranking algorithms lower only automated posting, mass liking, mass following and mass watching. Frequent posting by a real person is OK.
Truth: Shadowbanning doesn’t exist, according to what Instagram officials state. But almost everyone noticed that posts by some bloggers disappear from time to time in feed. Instagram team say it’s because people don’t interact with their profiles. People claim that Instagram hides posts to show more advertisements.
Bonus: How to beat Instagram algorithm in 2020
Keep in mind that hacking Instagram algorithms with the help of third-party utilities is now impossible, there are more than 100 000 parameters affecting ranking. In 2020, Instagram is banning all the suspicious actions like massliking, masslooking, mass following, as the platform stands for organic growth.
But there is one lifehack to gain 15-25 new followers in 10 minutes. There is one tip which makes it possible to get new subscribers without bots and traffic cheating. Are you intrigued? Know how in our short guide:
- Tap heart in the bottom of your screen. Scroll it down till you see a Suggested for you section. Before you do anything, it reminds of a mess, but when you activate a hidden algorithm on Instagram, it’ll become a very helpful instrument.
- Subscribe to hashtags related to your theme, like and comment posts containing them.
- Add those hashtags to your posts.
- Approximately 3-5 days later, people with similar interests will appear in the Suggested for you section.
- You don’t need all of them. Follow only people having less than 1000 followers and many subscriptions. For example, 450 followers and 500 followings.
- As you both have similar interests and relatively similar number of followings, experience has shown this person will eagerly follow you back.
It’s a great strategy, and it really works.
Always remember: if you want Instagram to bring money, don’t seek assistance from bots and hackers. Just be patient, work hard and learn a lot.