True or False: The Instagram Algorithm Edition

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True or False: The Instagram Algorithm Edition

I think everyone can agree that their Instagrams have taken a blow with the introduction of “The Algorithm”. It seems like certain posts just aren’t getting the same traction they used to back in chronological days. I have had countless conversations with friends regarding the science behind the algorithm and what they have heard we as users need to do to keep up with it. After some researching, I compiled a list of assertions that Instagram users have made about the algorithm and debunked the facts from the fiction.


1. Your posts are not showing up on all of your followers’ feeds 


The newest Instagram algorithm is focused on catering one’s feed to what they like. It therefore orders posts from the people you follow in an order that it thinks you will deem preferable. No posts are hidden from your timeline—they are simply pushed further down the prioritized list that Instagram has created for you. However, if one of your followers does not use Instagram frequently, it is possible that they won’t scroll far enough down their feed to see your post, therefore creating the illusion of your post being “missed”.


2. Engagement on posts will lead to more engagement on your posts.


Your Instagram feed is catered to what you like. If you like a certain person’s posts more frequently than another, then this person’s posts will show up on your feed. By frequently liking a user’s posts, this indicates to Instagram that you want to keep seeing posts from this user. Therefore, liking more photos will lead to more posts on your feed, not someone else’s. That being said, the only way to show up higher up in people’s feeds is to get people to actively like and comment on your posts more.

This might be an effective method if you apply the “like for like” theory here. Chances are the more you engage with someone’s posts, the more they will engage back with you—sort of like “returning the favor”. But there is no guarantee that this will work when considering each individual’s tendency to interact or skip over posts.

The more you like someone’s posts, the higher up they will appear in your feed. So if you are dissatisfied with what is showing up on your feed and feel the need to diversify, try liking a wider variety of posts. If you feel like you aren’t seeing enough of a certain friend, go like a bunch of their pictures.

This also applies to the explore page, but it’s even more amplified here. If you only like a couple posts here and there, your explore page is more likely to show lots of only a few categories of content. If you would like to see a wider variety of content, try searching for these posts and liking a couple from a broader range of categories in order to get them to pop up on your explore page.


3. Instagram knows who you interact with most in real life.


The algorithm has gotten so advanced that it is pretty much able to discern who your family and close friends are. Instagram has deduced that these people are the ones who you tag most frequently in photos and alternatively those who tag you. These are the people that are going to show up at the very top of your feed and vice versa. You will also notice that these people will likely show up close to the top in the list of people that have viewed your story. This is because Instagram assumes that you care more strongly whether or not these people have viewed your content. By following this logic, you could assume that being tagged in more photos means you appear more frequently on other people’s feeds.


4. The time of day that you post affects how often it’s seen.


The Instagram algorithm sorts your feed based on most recent posts. While your feed is no longer chronological, the algorithm will still try to show you the “newest” content since the last time you were using the app. This is where the time of day that you post Instagram content really comes into play. If you’re striving to get the most engagement on your posts, you should try to post content during a time when most of your followers are active on Instagram. With the new option of switching your account to a business profile, you can actually look at statistics about your followers. These stats include: what time your followers are most active (broken down by days and hours), where your followers are from, and how old they are. By looking at these stats, you can decide which time of day most of your followers are online and therefore when your prime time to post is.


5. Chronological Instagram is dead


Technically, yes—but not all hope is lost. Each time you open the Instagram app, the algorithm decides which posts it thinks you want to see based on everything that was posted since the last time you opened the app. If you haven’t used Instagram in 2 days and 200 posts have been uploaded, then Instagram is only going to show you a handful of these posts. But if you open the Instagram app multiple times a day, then the pool of new posts for Instagram to choose from is much smaller, meaning you will see a greater percentage of posts. So basically, the more often you use Instagram, the more chronological your feed will seem.


6. Following more accounts leads to a more diverse feed.


The more people you follow, the more people Instagram has to pick from to create your customized feed. If you aren’t seeing the posts you’d like to be seeing, unfollowing accounts that no longer interest you can help Instagram pin point exactly what you want. As pointed our earlier, the best way to diversify your feed is to like more posts.

7. Switching your account to a business profile will make you reach more people.


This will just allow you to view statistics about your followers so that you can decide how to go about reaching them better. It also gives you the option to pay to promote your posts, which will allow you to reach more viewers. You cannot do paid promotion on a regular account.


8. A video posted to Instagram will reach more viewers than a still photo.


This actually used to be true when Instagram initially introduced the capability of posting videos, but the algorithm no longer takes video vs. still photo into account when ordering people’s feeds.


9. Posting more Instagram stories or going Live will increase your reach and engagement


The only way this will work is if using these features causes more people to like your posts, therefore making your posts show up higher in their feeds. Simply being a user that posts more Instagram stories than another user will not prioritize your content.

1 Comment

Brooke Ralys

Brooke Ralys

September 17, 2018at 9:10 pm

Ever since the algorithm was introduced, my friends and I use it as an excuse for our pictures not getting as many likes as they used to. I can now show them this post the next time we’re talking about how the algorithm is “ruining instagram”. Great post, I found this super relevant!!

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