The deal with Instagram's Algorithm


Changes to Instagram API and Algorithm were inevitable since the whole Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data saga. According, to Instagram's press release the algorithm changes will give users ‘more control over their feed ensuring posts seen are timely’.

The new algorithm has altered the way posts are made visible to users; only showing content that is deemed interesting to the user based on likes, location tags and hashtags. Instagram hopes that by axing chronological order algorithm users will be able to see content that is relevant to them, therefore, enhancing their overall user experience.

That’s great and all, except Instagram failed to mention how these changes will affect businesses that rely on social media for reach and engagement. Don’t worry we’ve done some research and here are some of the important changes you need to make to keep your business at the top of your customers feed.


Make Use of the Bio Updates….

Instagram has updated how we use our Instagram bios. Not only can you include a quick note about your business and brand, #hashtags in your bio are now a thing (yassss). This means clients can click directly through to view your branded hashtags or hashtags relating to your business. New customers can also see the hashtags your business uses but also what your customers are uploading with your hashtag. #Hashtag who you are!

Hashtag spamming?

Instagram threw a spanner in the works with this one. A rumor's started that Instagram decided that all hashtags are to be belong in your caption.  We've trialled this and found some accounts seem to perform better with your hashtags in the body while others tanked. However we've seen that everyone's reach through hashtag discovery has fallen #thanksbutnothanksinstagram across IG.

Shadowb̶a̶n̶ scam

It's officially been announced that shadow banning is NOT a thing. Previously, shadow banning was a ghost that haunted all digital marketers and IG savvy business owners, where Insta's algorithm would kill your hashtag if you've used it too many times or if it had been blacklisted. Instagram made comment on this and said that shadow banning does not happen now - meaning you can use all the hashtags you want.

Get your spell check in check (😏)

It’s time to put your best spelling foot forward. Instagram wants to reduce changes made to the caption once its gone live. Unfortunately, this means you can’t fix a typo or add an emoji otherwise your post reach will dramatically reduced . Once your post is live so is your caption. No, take backsies. Make sure you’re using the right meaning and spelling for their, there or they’re. Once you click share your caption is there.

Instagram's three algorithm must haves*:

  1. Interest: How much Instagram predicts you’ll want to see a post, with higher ranking for what matters to you (what you've liked and commented on in the past). IG is also potentially using machine vision to analyse the actual content of the post.

  2. Recency: Back to the "chronological" feed (about time IMHO), meaning key posting times are crucial again!

  3. Relationship: How close you are to the person who shared it, bumping up the content of someone IG thinks you're close with. It looks at how often you comment on their posts or being tagged together in photos.

Instagram's three algorithm 'would likes':

  • Frequency: If you're an IG addict you'll likely see more of the chronological feed happening than someone who uses it once a week (on a Friday night..) IG will try show you the best posts since your last visit.

  • Following: If you follow a lot of people, Instagram will be picking from a wider breadth of authors so you might see less of any specific person.

  • Usage: How long you spend on Instagram determines if you’re just seeing the best posts during short sessions, or it’s digging deeper into its catalog if you spend more total time browsing.

This article was written by Ally Waye, this young creative spends her "on" time in our Social Cut office and her free time trawling through her favourite insta feeds (so pretty much the same thing)...

*Updated 09/06/2018 by Ella Doyle, Founder + Executive Consultant