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The road to becoming a successful creator can be challenging. There’s an overabundance of influencers on platforms like Instagram that cater to specific audiences, and more often than not, your content might get lost in the algorithm. If using Instagram as your primary platform interests you, you’ll want to understand the 2022 Instagram algorithm and how to ensure that your content reaches users.
Why is There an Algorithm?
When Instagram was released on October 6th, 2010, the platform’s original premise was sharing pictures with your inner circle and a wider audience. Want to show your followers what you’re eating for dinner? Instagram had you covered. Similar to how all social media platforms operate, Instagram wanted others to connect but not just with blogs or texts; they put amateur and/or professional photography at the forefront too.
Originally, Instagram posts were listed in chronological order, but as Instagram gained traction, going through every post on your feed became impossible. According to Adam Mosseri, the Head of Instagram, by 2016, users weren’t able to see 70% of all the posts in their feed, a majority of them from their favorite creators and friends.
To combat the overwhelming number of posts, Instagram developed the algorithm. Instagram’s Feed, Explore, and Reels features have their own unique algorithm personalized for a user’s favorite creators and posts.
If you’re ever curious about any new changes on Instagram, Mosseri frequently updates his followers on the company’s tests and requests for feedback from Instagram users. Back in January, Mosseri released news that the Feed would be going through some experimental changes to give users better ways to customize their feed.
📣 Testing Feed Changes 📣
We’re testing a new, immersive viewing experience in the main Home feed.
If you’re in the test, check it out and let me know what you think. 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/dmM5RzpicQ
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) May 3, 2022
Check out Instagram influencer marketing tips from real campaigns here.
How Does the 2022 Instagram Algorithm Work?
According to Hootsuite, every part of Instagram (Feed, Explore, and Reels) ranks each post based on some of these key factors:
- Your engagement with followers: The general rule of thumb is that as a growing influencer, you need to establish a positive relationship with your fanbase. If you engage with your followers, your content is more likely to show up on their Feeds. Brand awareness helps spread visibility, so take advantage of every comment or form of engagement you get.
- The interest and demand for content: Once you establish your specific niche, you’ll start to attract followers. If you love uploading makeup videos and your audience loves it too, chances are you’ll appear on their Feeds. The demand for makeup posts will also intrigue others that also love that content. Keep track of what your audience wants to see, and if you don’t know, reach out.
- Relevancy and trends: It’s essential to keep an eye out for trends that mesh well with your content. Doing so will not only help your posts show up on the Feeds of your followers but also on the Explore pages of potential new ones. If you’re a gaming influencer and a popular game just got released, base your content around that topic. Avoid forcing your content to conform to trends if they don’t blend well with your niche. (Ex: If your fanbase loves fashion and you randomly post about video games, you’re less likely to show up on their Feeds).
Learn more about utilizing trends on your other platforms like TikTok in this blog.
- Your follower’s Instagram usage: If your followers don’t frequently use Instagram, only relevant content will show up on their Feeds. If a user doesn’t interact with you often and they don’t actively use Instagram, your content is less likely to get noticed. You may not be able to change your follower’s activity on Instagram, but you can control what shows up on their Feed by creating content that interests them.
- The person’s following count: Instagram has billions of accounts and millions that are active daily, so it can be difficult to fight for a spot. There’s not much of a solution to this issue other than posting content that the user enjoys, but rest assured that enjoyable and relatable content drives engagement.
- A user’s session time on Instagram: Similar to how your follower’s usage impacts the kind of content they see, their average time spent on Instagram per session also influences content reach. If a person only goes on Instagram for a few minutes each session, Instagram’s algorithm will make sure they see content from users they engage with the most (ex: friends and family). This can make it rather difficult for businesses to show up on Feeds, especially if someone mostly uses Instagram for casual, interpersonal use. Make your content authentic, and be sure to engage with your audience much like a friend would.
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Updates to the 2022 Instagram Algorithm
One of the biggest changes to the 2022 Instagram algorithm is the company’s push to feature more videos and Reels on users’ Feeds. Instagram incorporated AI-driven recommendations to better promote videos over photos. This decision brought controversy as the Make Instagram Instagram Again campaign flooded media a few months ago. Mosseri responded to the backlash in late July, stating that users interact with video posts more than posts with just photos – a potentially controversial piece of data in the first place.
However, Mosseri stressed that Instagram will continue to support photos since that’s a part of the site’s “heritage.” Mosseri has noticed the shift from photos to videos and states that this trend will continue whether Instagram tries to promote content with videos or not.
Considering that Instagram was founded during a time when the only platform for videos was YouTube, it’s no surprise that video content’s popularity coincided with making posting, editing, and uploading videos more accessible and enjoyable.
A more recent change to the 2022 Instagram algorithm is Recommendations. Recommendations are meant to promote content from creators you don’t follow, and you can find these posts in Feeds, Explore, and Reels. Mosseri hopes that recommendations will help the average creator have a better reach on the platform. Only public accounts that follow the Community Guidelines and Recommendation Guidelines are eligible for this opportunity.
📣 Recommendations 📣
To create more opportunities for discovery, we’ve been adding recommendations to more places. Here are ways to be eligible for recs:
– Recommendation Guidelines
– Community Guidelines
– Public Accounts Only
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) August 30, 2022
Creating Leverage with Instagram’s Algorithm
In order to maximize your reach on Instagram, here are some other tips on how to attract more followers for your brand. Combining knowledge of the 2022 Instagram algorithm and these tips, you are destined to grow.
- Follow Instagram’s Community Guidelines: this is a no-brainer. If you break the rules, you threaten termination of your account. Likewise, posting unwanted or harmful content will negatively impact your brand.
- Post authentic content: When trying to gain the trust of your audience, don’t post content that isn’t your own. Posting content that isn’t your own won’t expand your reach, and if anything, it’ll reduce the likelihood of engagement.
- Get creative and try new things: Because there are so many creators on Instagram, you’ll need to stand out in order to get noticed. Be genuine but also new and innovative. Experiment with your content and see what sticks with your potential audience.
- Schedule your posts during peak times for maximum engagement: Find a business account manager that gives you an accurate analysis of when your followers are active. There are a plethora of managers to try like Hootsuite’s dashboard, but try to find one that works best for you.
- Engage, engage, engage: We can’t stress how important it is to interact with your followers. Even a few interactions go a long way, so be sure to see what your audience has to say about your content.
- Use hashtags: Hashtags can be a great way to expand your reach to a specific audience. Be frugal and mindful when using hashtags and refrain from using any that aren’t relevant to your content.
- Stay active and post frequently: The more you post, the more likely others will see them, but remember that the quality of your post will always be more important than the number of posts you make.
Wondering whether or not you should use hashtags on your Instagram posts? Check out this blog for more information.