Can I hear a hallelujah? FINALLY Instagram came out with a lot more official information about how the Instagram algorithm works.
Today Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram published a blog post with all the information we need to know to understand how the algorithm (or better, algorithms) work through the different parts of Instagram.
Mosseri gave us details about the differences in the Instagram algorithm on:
the feed and stories
the explore page
in Reels (this is new and exciting information)
The last time Instagram shared official and reliable information about the algorithm was in 2018 in an article published by Tech Crunch, so this blog post came as a much needed resource at a time when there’s so many click bait rumors, stressing out and affecting those using Instagram for their businesses.
There is not one big, bad Instagram algorithm hiding your posts.
Before getting into the nitty gritty, Mosseri wanted to clarify a common misconception about the algorithm, the notion that there is one big ALGORITHM, reigning over our content and deciding if anyone gets to see it.
In reality, instead of “The Algorithm”, public enemy of everyone trying to grow their Instagram engagement, there are several algorithms exist to curate a better experience for people who are spending their time on the platform.
This is not news. Every platform you use to consume content has an algorithm that works in a similar fashion: Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, Amazon, their are all tracking your actions and overall popularity of a show, movie, album or product to curate what you’re most likely to consume.
Instagram is no different.
To be safe and cause no confusion, I will share Mosseri’s own words:
“One of the main misconceptions we want to clear up is the existence of “The Algorithm.” Instagram doesn’t have one algorithm that oversees what people do and don’t see on the app. We use a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose. We want to make the most of your time, and we believe that using technology to personalize your experience is the best way to do that. When we first launched in 2010, Instagram was a single stream of photos in chronological order. But as more people joined and more was shared, it became impossible for most people to see everything, let alone all the posts they cared about. By 2016, people were missing 70% of all their posts in Feed, including almost half of posts from their close connections. So we developed and introduced a Feed that ranked posts based on what you care about most.
Each part of the app – Feed, Explore, Reels – uses its own algorithm tailored to how people use it. People tend to look for their closest friends in Stories, but they want to discover something entirely new in Explore. We rank things differently in different parts of the app, based on how people use them.”
How the Instagram Algorithm Works on the Feed, Stories, Explore page and Reels in June 2021...
After clarifying why the algorithm exists and how it works, Mosseri laid out exactly how the algorithm works differently throughout the different Instagram features and placements.
They are always a variation of the criteria we already knew since 2018 about the Instagram algorithm:
Interest - what you engage with, watch and spend time on
Relationship - how often you interact with a specific account, if you’re tagged on the same posts, etc
Timelessness - how recent the post is and giving it preference over older posts
This time, Mosseri is calling them slightly differently, probably to make them more clear:
How the Instagram algorithm works on the Feed and in Stories...
In Mosseri’s own words, for the sake of accuracy:
“Information about the post. These are signals both about how popular a post is – think how many people have liked it – and more mundane information about the content itself, like when it was posted, how long it is if it’s a video, and what location, if any, was attached to it.
Information about the person who posted. This helps us get a sense for how interesting the person might be to you, and includes signals like how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks.
Your activity. This helps us understand what you might be interested in and includes signals such as how many posts you’ve liked.
Your history of interacting with someone. This gives us a sense of how interested you are generally in seeing posts from a particular person. An example is whether or not you comment on each other’s posts.”
How the Instagram algorithm works on the Explore page...
“Information about the post. Here we are looking at how popular a post seems to be. These are signals like how many and how quickly other people are liking, commenting, sharing, and saving a post. These signals matter much more in Explore than they do in Feed or in Stories.
Your history of interacting with the person who posted. Most likely the post was shared by someone you’ve never heard of, but if you have interacted with them that gives us a sense of how interested you might be in what they shared.
Your activity. These are signals like what posts you’ve liked, saved or commented on and how you’ve interacted with posts in Explore in the past.
Information about the person who posted. These are signals like how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks, to help find compelling content from a wide array of people.:"
How the Instagram algorithm works on Instagram Reels - this is new information!
So far the only thing we have read heard from Instagram about the algorithm for Reels was a vague comment on the fact that the algorithm would not distribute Reels with watermark from competitors (**coughs, TIKTOK**) as much.
Now along with more Insights for Reels that are now available, this new intel is surely helpful:
In Mosseri’s words:
“Your activity. We look at things like which reels you’ve liked, commented on, and engaged with recently. These signals help us to understand what content might be relevant to you.
Your history of interacting with the person who posted. Like in Explore, it’s likely the video was made by someone you’ve never heard of, but if you have interacted with them that gives us a sense of how interested you might be in what they shared.
Information about the Reel. These are signals about the content within the video such as the audio track, video understanding based on pixels and whole frames, as well as popularity.
Information about the person who posted. We consider popularity to help find compelling content from a wide array of people and give everyone a chance to find their audience.
Other things that will impact how much content and which content you see on Instagram...
And of course how much content you are able to go through will also make your experience different from someone with a different user profile
Frequency - how often you log into the app
Following - how many people you follow
Usage - how much time you spend on the app and how much content you consume
Our takeaways should be once again that there’s no point in getting angry at the Instagram algorithm.
The algorithm does not hate you and that the best way to “beat” the algorithm, is to please your audience and keep engaging with them by providing them with the content they crave, want and need. This rule goes first for visual content like animated posts, videos and images and also your captions, which most often is where you will deliver the real value.
Got a question? Get in touch with us!