Aligning with the Algorithm: Our Guide to Instagram in 2021
This one’s for all the content creators, social strategists, aspiring influencers, and those simply trying to show off their dog on the gram. The Instagram algorithm can be tricky to fully grasp, often leaving scrollers wondering why some photos or users consistently show up at the top of their feed while others are absent. In order to grow your business or personal account, it’s essential to know your way around the platform’s different algorithms so your posts are seen by the right people.
To ensure your posts are reaching the greatest number of users in 2021, you’ve got to put in the work, and we’re here to guide you. Let’s keep the likes, follows and comments coming.
According to Instagram, there are 6 key factors that influence the Instagram algorithm for feed posts in 2021.
Factor #1: Interest
An account’s Instagram feed is a culmination of all the users’ behaviours on the app, including the accounts they interact with most, the people they are tagged in photos with and the posts they like and comment on. The more the Instagram algorithm thinks they will “like” a certain type of post, the higher it will appear in their feed.
Meaning, the more you interact with accounts following or engaging with profiles similar to your brand, the higher you will appear in their feed or their follower’s explore pages. The most important engagements to focus on for feed ranking are comments, likes, reshares, and views for videos.
Factor #2: Relationship
The Instagram algorithm uses interactions (comments, tagged photos, shared stories) to determine who is in whose circle. The app then uses this intel to show users what they care about. Instagram will try to evaluate this relationship level and interest levels by presenting a recently followed user’s content and monitoring how you engage with it.
Thomas Dimson, a software engineer at Instagram, shared how Instagram could theoretically figure out who individuals care about the most, based on how they use the app:
- People whose content they like (possibly including stories and live videos)
- People they direct message
- People they search for
- People they know in real life
So, as soon as you get a new follower or follow a new user, be sure to engage with plenty of their posts and their friend’s posts. This will trick the Instagram algorithm into thinking that you are “friends” and your content is what they want to see.
Factor #3: Timeliness
Instagram’s algorithm cares about when you post because it always wants to serve the latest, most interesting posts. This is a key to getting more likes.
Later analyzed 12 million Instagram posts and found that the best overall time to post on Instagram is between 9am and 11am EST. But, the best time to post depends on where your followers are located, so be sure to check out your insights and determine the time zones that work best for your followers.
Factor #4: Frequency
Ever scrolled on IG and wondered why you’re seeing posts from two weeks ago? Well, Instagram either shows you the best posts since your last time online or if you’ve exhausted all of the recent posts on your feed it will dive into the archives to show you posts based on your interest.
In order to meet the feeds of both frequent scrollers and sporadic users, your business will need to get engaging to ensure Instagram thinks followers want to see your posts, and post regularly so you remain on chronological feeds.
Factor #5: Following
The number of accounts a profile follows has a major impact on what Instagram has the chance to show. If your followers follow a lot of other people, then Instagram has more options to choose from, and they probably won’t see all of the posts from every account.
Try to follow accounts that follow minimal numbers of users, and stray from spam accounts that likely have a large number of inactive followers.
Factor #6: Usage
If you’re an IG addict you can run out of new content to see. Once this happens, the algorithm will serve suggested content from new accounts, based on previous interactions.
Since it’s lockdown and most people are spending their days on social media, brands have an opportunity to reach more new accounts than ever. Keep up the commenting and likes on potential new followers and you’re bound to pop up on their feed. It’s necessary to post often during your time zone’s prime posting slots so that you can make that surprise appearance.
To earn a top spot in follower’s feeds, audience loyalty and engagement is now more important than ever. The algorithm factors are constantly changing and adapting with the social media landscape, so focusing on relationships is the underlying key to true community. Consistently allow your brand values to shine through and ensure that your content feels genuine to your followers and your online presence feels welcoming to new accounts.