Throughout this series, we will be referencing Instagram’s new algorithm and how it has changed the game for your social marketing plan. As I was writing this series, I realized that it may be a grey area of knowledge for many users. As a frequent user of Instagram myself, it took me a bit to understand what Instagram’s new algorithm actually was doing, what “algorithm” even means, and how it was affecting my accounts. Whether you know exactly what is going on with the new feed or not, this post will help you understand how it will affect your plan going forward.
What is an algorithm?
Okay, I realize you may already know what an algorithm is, but understanding it completely helped me truly understand what Instagram was doing. By definition, an algorithm is “a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end, especially by a computer.” Applied to Instagram, the Instagram’s new algorithm is a step-by-step process used to determine how a users’ feed is displayed.
What was Instagram’s old algorithm?
In the past, users’ Instagram feeds were in reverse-chronological order. Simply put, this means that the most recent post uploaded by one of your followers was placed at the top of your feed. It was a simple, easy to follow algorithm that was beneficial for brands and influencers alike. It ensured that no matter what, your post will end up at the top of your follower’s feeds the minute it was uploaded.
However, Instagram (after being bought out by Facebook), released a statistic saying “ on average, people miss 70 percent of their feeds” with the strict reverse-chronological algorithm. This data is what led Instagram to announce their move away from this time-based algorithm.
So, what is Instagram’s new algorithm?
Instead of user feeds being displayed in reverse-chronological order, Instagram now organizes posts based on the “likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting, and the timeliness of the post,” as explained by Instagram.
Sounding a little like the Facebook algorithm that made your Facebook engagement suddenly decrease?
When Instagram’s new algorithm was announced, brands and influencers were concerned (with reason). Rather than trusting that your fans will see your post based on the time uploaded, you now run the gamble of a large majority of your followers never seeing your post. After all, if you are not posting content that users are constantly engaging with, your posts could be buried further down in users’ feeds where they may never even get to.
What does this mean for your plan?
Quality. That’s what this means. And patience. With this new update, it’s harder to reach existing fans and even harder to reach potential fans. In the past, when you used a hashtag, your post ended up at the top of that tag search. Now, your photo may be more quickly buried by “popular” accounts, making it much harder for people to see your post. Seem a little unfair?
With this new update, it’s going to take more work, more quality and much more patience to grow your account (especially if you’re just starting out now). But hope is not lost! We still love Instagram and know it’s worth the time. If you have forgotten why it’s worth it, please refer back to the first post of this series!
Later in this series, we will talk about how you can Instagram’s new algorithm to still be discovered by new users and stay engaged with your current fans. We will dive into insights, advertising and best practices! Don’t let this post scare you, Instagram is fun. Stay with me, you’re on your way to Instagram fame!