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Confused by the Instagram AI ranking algorithm? Want to optimize your Instagram profile? Here’s how to beat the algorithm and create thumb-stopping content!
The Instagram algorithm holds the secrets to success in Instagram marketing for social media managers all over the world. But, up until now, the algorithm has been akin to a magical beast, with marketers only being able to guess how to beat it. This year, for the first time ever, Meta has released in-depth details on just how the algorithm works, as well as all the factors that go into how our content is ranked on Instagram.
Of course, over the years marketers have guessed at many of the ranking factors that make up the Instagram algorithm from assessing their own social media performance. But now those marketers finally have solid evidence backing up their predictions.
This in-depth information on the Instagram algorithm provided by Meta can help social media marketers to supercharge their social media content and ensure that it is being seen by the right people, every single time.
Is it time to finally take control of your Instagram marketing strategy and create the content that your fans truly care about? We’ve created the ultimate guide for the Instagram algorithm! Keep on scrolling to find out all about the new Instagram algorithm information released by Meta – and what it means for you and your brand.
Best of all, we’ll show you how you can leverage it to create the kind of content that stops thumbs and will keep your dedicated Instagram users engaged for longer. Ready to get the lowdown?
First up, what is the Instagram algorithm, and what does it mean for you? Well, whether you’re just starting out on Instagram or you already have an awesome Instagram account with thousands of super-engaged followers, it’s crucial that you understand the Instagram algorithm and how to beat it.
The Instagram algorithm is essentially a set of rules and processes that Instagram uses to rank content according to how popular and relevant it may be with specific users on the platform.
Here’s how it works; essentially, Meta’s AI systems rank content based on an ever-evolving set of “signals” that Instagram users give. These signals contribute to predictions on how certain content will rank with certain users. This way, Instagram can ensure that every user has a good experience on the platform by providing relevant content to users. Higher-ranking content will be shown to more users on the platform. Makes sense, right?
But there isn’t just one all-powerful Instagram algorithm. There are actually a number of different AI systems that Instagram uses to rank different content types, such as the Instagram Feed and Instagram Stories. Each content type is ranked slightly differently. And the ranking is different for every Instagram user – because what one of us finds interesting isn’t the same for another.
To make things even more complicated, the Instagram algorithm changes over time as the AI systems learn and new features are added, making it even more difficult for marketers to keep up.
So why does it all matter? Well, understanding how the Instagram algorithm works can help you as a social media marketer by knowing exactly how to create the most awesome content and amplify that content properly to reach the right users.
Want to know how to beat the algorithm? It all starts with understanding how it works. So, here’s the lowdown, straight from Meta.
The Instagram algorithm uses a set of AI system cards. Each AI system is very complicated, but essentially, they are made up of a set of dynamic rules and prediction models. These prediction models use a set of signals to determine how popular and relevant each piece of content might be. Indicators might include things like how a person has interacted with the author’s content in the past, or interacted with similar content.
That said, Instagram ranks content differently based on the content type. Below, we’ll dive into each content type and how they are ranked.
Your Instagram feed is curated for you by the Instagram feed algorithm, which uses a bunch of AI learning models. Every time you jump onto your Instagram feed, Instagram will gather potential Instagram posts that you might like. These posts are placed in a specific order in your user feed based on how Instagram thinks you will react to them. Some of the factors that influence this score include the below:
The likelihood of an Instagram user seeing your post will be determined by how they have reacted to you in the past, but also by how popular your content is. So if other users are responding well to your content early on, Instagram might show that post to more users.
According to Meta, your Instagram Stories feed is curated for you by the Instagram algorithm. The ever-evolving AI system behind your Instagram Stories will collect the signals from each Story to rank the content. Some of the factors that influence this score include:
The difference, it seems, with Instagram Stories as opposed to Instagram Feed posts is that the ranking factors for Instagram Stories are more dependent on the personal relationship that the user has with the author – unless, of course, you are sending DMs to everyone on Instagram!
With Instagram Stories, it’s also more all about the timeliness of your post, which makes sense, given the short lifespan of Stories. So Stories are more likely to be shown to users in the same time zones, as they are more likely to interact with them. This is important to keep in mind if you’re targeting an international audience.
And finally; Instagram Reels are also optimized on user’s feeds according to the Instagram algorithm ranking scores.
Here are some of the Instagram reel ranking factors:
With Reels, Instagram wants to show you the type of content that you might find interesting with less emphasis on your previous relationship with the author. So, in your Reels feed, you won’t necessarily see Reels from your friends (as they will be in your feed). You’ll see Reels from users you don’t know. You can also find new content by checking out Reels on the Instagram Explore tab. Of course, the Instagram Explore page algorithm works differently again!
This indicates that Reels can be a great way to reach new users; and what brand wouldn’t want that?
Before we get into the good stuff, it’s important to think about the negative Instagram ranking factors as well. Aside from positive ranking, factors, like likes, shares, views, positive comments, and other interactions, Instagram also takes into account negative reactions. If users are reporting or hiding your posts, or Instagram feels that your post violates their standards and community guidelines, it will take this into account and downgrade the ranking of your posts. It may even remove your post from the feed entirely.
If this is happening to you, check your comments and direct messages and see if there are any complaints. Negative reactions can also occur if your followers simply aren’t interested in your content. For example, maybe you have bought Instagram followers in the past or grown your audience purely by using competitions.
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Before Meta released all the details on how the Instagram algorithm works, content creators and brands on Instagram had only guessed how it worked based on their own collective experiences. We had already guessed that Instagram shows users the content that they are most likely to interact with based on their preferences and their relationship with the author. So, while this update gives us some additional insights, it shouldn’t change your approach drastically.
That said, there is a lot of misinformation about the Instagram algorithm, and while we now understand the factors that go into ranking, we don’t understand just how important they are. For instance, how important is a save versus a share? We may only be able to guess at how important these factors are and conduct our own research.
Luckily, there are some simple hacks you can put into place to optimize the performance of your Instagram content and get it in front of the people who matter. Keep reading for our top tips to optimize your Instagram content and supercharge your social media strategy.
First up, it pays to generate as much user engagement on Instagram as you can. This is probably something that you are already trying to achieve. But if you look a little bit more closely at Meta’s ranking indicators for Instagram feed posts, one of them is “how likely users are to spend more than 15 seconds in this session”. In other words, the longer you can get people to engage with your content, the better.
So how can you get people to interact with your content more, and for longer? Well, this will be highly dependent upon your brand, but there are a few ways that you can supercharge user engagement and, in turn, boost your ranking within the Instagram algorithm.
Run a competition. A competition is an easy way to supercharge your engagement, even if it’s just for a short time. In your competition post, make sure you specify that users need to like or comment on the competition post or other posts on your feed, in order to enter.
Not sure what to post to boost your engagement? Use Sked Social to track user hashtags for your industry. Check out the top-performing posts and see if you can use a similar content strategy to boost your engagement.
Forget Instagram analytics. You can use Sked Social’s sophisticated reporting insights to track specific metrics and measure your post performance every month. Over time, you’ll be able to use these insights to tweak your content marketing strategy and increase your engagement rates.
Want to access Sked Social to supercharge your social media marketing game? Give it a try today by signing up for our 7-day free plan trial.
As we’ve discussed, Instagram’s AI models take into account the viewing times of new posts when it decides to rank your content. But before you start making super-long Instagram videos, consider this; engaging for longer might mean engaging with a 10-second video three times. This might seem unlikely but it’s not actually that hard to do – especially when a video is looping, or you’re watching a funny video.
Therefore, it might be better to create a short looping video than a longer video that isn’t as engaging.
So, how do you get people watching your video content for longer? Here’s how:
Post when users are engaged. Aim to post when your target audience is most active. To find out when that is you can check “Instagram Insights”. But Sked Social has more detailed audience insights on the best times to post. It can show you the exact days and times to post for your brand, according to your time zone. Then you can use Sked Social to schedule your posts at exactly the right times for optimal performance. Too easy!
Want to see if Sked works with your Instagram marketing strategy? Give it a try today by signing up for our 7-day trial.
We spoke earlier about why it’s so important to have long Instagram captions filled with value. You always want to ensure that your Instagram captions are providing value over and above the image or video that you are posting. You don’t want to just use your caption to repeat exactly what you have already said in your image or video post. Try using it to add additional information for your audience so that they stay engaged for longer.
As to whether or not short or long captions are best, this is something you might want to test out with your target audience.
Here are some tips for awesome Instagram captions:
Want to create clever, well-constructed Instagram captions? Scheduling is the key. Try scheduling with Sked Social. You can create posts and add hashtags and location tags all within the one platform in minutes. Give it a try today by signing up for our 7-day trial.
When it comes to Instagram Reels, having the right audio is crucial. Not only can the right music with the right timing make your videos more compelling, but choosing the right audio can dramatically boost the reach of your reels. So, how do you choose the perfect audio for your Instagram Reel?
Choose songs that;
Are trending. Trending audio tracks will have a small upward-facing arrow on the left of the track name. Using trending audio will ensure your Reel is seen by more users.
Finally, always add subtitles for your videos. These days, many of us view videos on the bus, at work, or even in bed at night when our partner is trying to sleep! That means that many users will view videos without audio – or with the audio at a low volume. This means that you might risk people scrolling past if you don’t add subtitles – especially if your video features a person speaking directly to the camera.
Even if your users are watching your videos with audio, subtitles can help to drive the message of your video home. Having engaging text on the screen is an extra way to capture user attention. You can add subtitles easily with tools like CapCut or InShot.
Regardless of the latest Instagram algorithm updates, it’s important to do your own research and check which of your posts are performing the best, as the AI models that control the Instagram algorithm are changing all the time. What works well now may not be working for you in six months. That’s why reporting is so important when it comes to social media marketing.
Sked Social is a powerful social media marketing tool with the ability to streamline your content scheduling process and save you hours every month. But it also has comprehensive social media reporting functions that can help you track the performance of your content from month to month. Regular reporting is crucial if you want to create high-performing content that reaches new users.
If you want a comprehensive social media scheduling and reporting tool that allows you to automatically schedule content for TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and every other major social media platform, Sked Social is the one for you.