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How does the Instagram algorithm work? Learn how to use it to your advantage!

Understanding Instagram's algorithm and how it works is very important to help your brand achieve good results on this social network. Check out our tips to help you use it to your advantage!

Instagram Algorithm – An illustration of a transparent smartphone with representations of three Instagram windows displayed side by side and coming out of the device's screen; in the background, a sequence of zeroes and ones referring to binary code

Instagram is a popular social network and has grown a lot among conventional users and brands looking to reach their audiences on this platform.

According to an Opinion Box survey conducted in January 2021, 82% of users follow brands on Instagram, while 52% have already purchased something they found on the network. 

The data shows the potential of brands on the app and a great conversion percentage. Thus, Instagram is one of the main sales channels for those who want to grow in the digital environment.

Although the original function of social media is to connect people and create bonds, brands soon realized that they could also use digital media to better connect with their persona and build a strong brand.

However, in order for a brand to obtain good results on Instagram, it’s necessary to strengthen engagement and increase its reach so the account can reach other profiles. To do so, you need to understand what the Instagram algorithm is and how it works.

Here is what you’ll learn in this text:

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What is the Instagram algorithm? How does the Instagram algorithm work? How are brands impacted by the Instagram algorithm? How to reduce the algorithm’s negative impact and use it to your advantage
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What is the Instagram algorithm?

Instagram’s algorithm is an artificial intelligence system that aims to collect data on the platform to determine which content and accounts are relevant to users.

Based on this system, Instagram decides which content and accounts will be displayed in the app’s feed and the suggested posts and accounts to follow.

How does the Instagram algorithm work?

The algorithm works based on each user’s individual experience on the platform.

It’s through the algorithm that you receive suggestions of accounts to follow, as well as receive posts from specific profiles in your feed. It analyzes your behavior, your likes, and chooses other accounts and content that you’re likely to enjoy.

The app used the chronological order system up to 2016 when it developed its own algorithm that supports three main pillars, which define the visibility of content on the app. They are time, relationship, and engagement.

Time

Even with the use of the algorithm, Instagram still uses time as a relevant factor. 

Because users look for the most recent posts and content updates, such as stories, the newness factor is present and seen as key to making your account stand out in other feeds.

Relationship

Social media is primarily about relationships. The algorithm analyzes the profiles you interact with the most and understands that you find a given account interesting. It will appear more consistently in your feed as long as the contact is recurrent.

Engagement

A post that receives many comments, likes, shares, and saves indicates to Instagram’s algorithm that this content might be interesting to a larger number of people.

This advantage ensures that this content is prioritized over other content whose interactions haven’t obtained such good results.

How are brands impacted by the Instagram algorithm?

In the same way that SEO techniques indicate to Google which content is relevant to users on its search pages, Instagram’s algorithm defines which posts are relevant to users in their feeds.

Brands need to meet the algorithm’s requirements in order to stand out on the platform and obtain good engagement results. These good results can only be achieved if your brand builds a strategic relationship with your audience.

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How to reduce the algorithm’s negative impact and use it to your advantage

In practice, what actions should you take so that the algorithm doesn’t negatively affect your business account? Below, you’ll find the key tips on how to use the algorithm in a smart and positive manner!

Understand how it works

Using Instagram professionally and not understanding how the algorithm works can lead to very bad consequences.

Study the algorithm, learn its basic principles, plan working methods, and always keep an eye on what’s new! The algorithm is improved from time to time, so make sure you are one step ahead when changes occur.

Have a visual identity

Aesthetics is one of the platform’s priorities since visuals are used heavily through videos and photos.

Creating a logo and having a visual standard will make your content more attractive and make users have a point of reference regarding your brand, and will identify with it.

Interact with your followers

As stated earlier, relationships and engagement are a requirement for the algorithm to value your content, but this needs to be a two-way street.

You’ll need to engage with your followers by commenting, liking, and sharing other content. This is a great way to increase interactions on your account and build a more loyal and lasting connection with your customers and prospects.

Create relevant and shareable content

Pay close attention to your content production! A flurry of posts promoting your product or service isn’t the best choice. Think about what your users would like to know, about how you can help or inform them.

Think about content that your followers would like to share, tag someone in the comments, or save it to read at a later time. What is valuable and important to your audience?

Use Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is fast content and direct contact between followers and brands. 

Through this tool, you’ll learn more about who’s on the other side of the screen and build deeper connections, showing the day-to-day of your business, providing quick tips, or talking a new feature first hand.

Stories are a way to stay present on Instagram during the day and thus, make sure that your audience is always consuming your content, even if they have missed a post.

Instagram’s algorithm will continue to prioritize your stories in other feeds and make your other content more relevant as well.

Don’t forget about Reels!

Instagram Reels is the app’s recent feature where you can produce short videos with very high reach.

Because they’re easy to create and share, reels are hugely popular and have the potential to reach followers and non-followers alike.

The editing possibilities of Reels, the addition of music, and content trends present in this format, make reels a mandatory tool for those who wish to generate a positive impact on Instagram’s algorithm. 

Use hashtags (in moderation)

Hashtags are a simple way to help people find your brand on the web because they can be inserted in the captions of posts, stories, reels, and videos.

Since they are a means for searching, they help find profiles and content, but you should be careful when using hashtags.

Excessive hashtags can cause the algorithm to interpret your post as a form of spamming, which ends up making the account’s results worse. Use hashtags that are relative to the content you post, exercise moderation, and don’t focus on generic hashtags.

Find out the best times to post

Some people are unaware of the need to find the best time to post on Instagram. However, the ideal time can affect how the algorithm will boost your content.

Keep an eye on your followers’ behavior and observe what times they are most active. In Instagram’s insights tool, you have access to data that shows the days and times when your audience is most active.

Also, analyze the times of day when your audience interacts the most with your business’ Instagram and start posting more strategically at peak times.

Advertise

Advertising is also a good indicator for the algorithm. Instagram likes its users to invest within the platform in search of greater reach.

Another benefit is that ads offer specific goals that contribute to everything from engagement within Instagram, to the capturing of leads or sales in your online store.

In any case, don’t forget that organic reach is important to attract your persona and ensure a more solid connection. 

In sync with the algorithm

After understanding how the Instagram algorithm works, you can see the importance of studying this social network’s artificial intelligence, and follow certain criteria to help your brand obtain good reach and prominence.

We saw that organic reach is a key indicator for the algorithm, but in this post, we show that the use of ads also helps boost your content and ensure a good relationship with the platform. 

If you’ve decided to start advertising, read our post that will teach you how to advertise on Instagram!