Contento Academy

How to Take Advantage of the Instagram algorithm in 2020

Usman Khalil

July 10, 2020

As the number of people on a social media platform increase, it can feel like very few people actually see your posts, and fewer still engage with them through likes or comments. To some extent this is true.

Organic reach has been on the decline especially for bigger platforms like Facebook and Instagram. So people often come to us scratching their heads about why only a handful of people saw and liked their posts.

Thankfully, the Instagram Creators account recently answered a few such questions on their Instagram story. I'll break them down for you so you know what they mean, and what you need to do to take advantage.

How often does Instagram change its Algorithm 🧠?

In one word, constantly. Instagram's algorithm continuously learns and adapts based on the data they collect. So it's really impossible to keep a track of every small change that goes on.

What should you do?

As a business owner with an Instagram business page, you can't be bothered to keep track of these changes, and you should not. What you can do is:

  1. Look at the bigger picture. Zoom out. What kind of behavior is Instagram trying to incentivize? What kind of behavior are they punishing?
  2. Keep track of your own Insta accounts analytics. That is the truest source of information for your page specifically. See what kind of content excels, and what just doesn't take off.

Does Feed Ranking Favor Videos 📽️ Over Photos 📸?

Instagram says that it doesn't outright favor videos over photos or vice versa for everyone. The way posts appear on your Instagram feed are based on how you interact with them. If you engage with photos more than videos, than you'll see photos more often in your feed. If you watch more videos than photos on instagram, you're going to see more videos appearing in your feed.

What should you do?

Instagram says in clear terms that on the IG feed, videos and photos get the same treatment. However, Instagram Creators account recently also posted this.

On the Instagram Explore tab, IGTV videos take up 4 times more real estate than photos. They also autoplay on mute. This makes them more likely to be viewed and liked.

So yes, posting IGTV videos can boost your engagement, ESPECIALLY if your content is interesting to watch.

That said, it also depends on what you're posting and how your audience currently responds to it. A fashion brand might find it better to post well taken photographs of their product. An HR agency might find it better to occasionally post videos of quick tips for a job interview.

The ideal strategy is a good mix of photos and videos.

Does the type of account you have (Personal, Business, Creator) affect your ranking in the feed?

Likewise, Instagram says they do not favor businesses, influencers, or any type of verified accounts in the Feed by default.

The rule of thumb is if a user interacts with content from particular accounts more often, it'll get priority in your Instagram feed.

What should you do?

There's not much you can do here. But you can rest easy that just because some other account is verified, they won't get preference over yours in the feed.

However, if the verified accounts or business accounts are creating good content, more people will like it and interact with it. And that will ensure that it appears on the top.

Important takeaway: Create good content. Which we more than anybody understand is easier said than done.

We Hear That Pods (Groups of people which like, comment, and share each others posts) Can Help a Post Appear Higher In The Feed?

Of course, Instagram does not encourage the use of Instagram pods. We talked about if Instagram pods are really worth it in this blog post in detail.

Sure, Instagram pods let you feel like your post is doing well. But other than the people in the pod, it doesn't help people you were actually targeting to see your post.

Instagram pods would have been more powerful before 2019 when people could see posts their followers had liked in the Following tab. But it was discontinued. So now the posts you see are based purely your preferences.

What should you do?

Don't waste your time looking for an Instagram pod to artificially boost your post engagements. It is not a sustainable way to grow your channel and become more visible.

Try to instead use the right hashtags with your posts to reach the people outside your network that are interested in the topic.

Does the algorithm rank posts higher that get a lot of likes or comments in the first 30 minutes?

Instagram makes it clear that it is not important to the algorithm to judge content's popularity by the amount of engagement it gets in the first 30 minutes only.

Engagement as a whole though is important to how high your content will appear in someone's feed. This post from the Instagram Creators account makes that clear.

What should you do?

Optimize your posts for maximum engagement. Here are a few ways you can do that apart from creating good content.

  1. Post at the best times. Your Instagram Insights tab shows you what time of what day your content gets seen by the most number of followers.
  2. Use the right hashtags. Make sure they are relevant to what you're posting. Include broad and niche hashtags.
  3. Encourage people to comment. Ask for their feedback or their opinions in the post copy or caption.

Don't want to worry about changes in the algorithm every now and then?

Outsource your worries. At HelloContento, we help you create content that your audience wants to interact with so you can attract more website visitors and more interested prospects.

Schedule a free demo to see what we can do for your business.

Usman Khalil

Marketing Manager

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