What Does The Instagram Algorithm Look Like In 2022
In order to beat the Instagram algorithm and increase the reach of your content, we need to understand it. So, what does the Instagram algorithm look like in 2022?
The Instagram algorithm is a set of rules that are wholly responsible for determining the organic reach of content on the platform. In other words, it decides what content get’s seen and what doesn’t. There are a couple of distinct areas where it exerts influence:
When talking about Instagram’s algorithm (and beating it) it’s important to remember that it isn’t a static object. Like most recommendation algorithms, it’s constantly evolving with each update. If you’re a long-time Instagram user, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Instagram’s algorithm is used to present posts on the newsfeed in reverse chronological order (with the oldest posts first).
While that makes sense at face value, Instagram justified the update to custom order newsfeeds by pointing out that people used to miss 70% of posts and 50% of their friends’ posts.
As this example shows, the Instagram algorithm is sometimes subject to big shake-ups. However, these big shake-ups are nothing compared to the smaller (but still significant) adjustments Instagram makes regularly. The point is … the algorithm changes, and if you want to beat it, you need up-to-date information about how it works.
So, without further ado, let’s look at the ranking signals the Instagram algorithm uses in 2022. Generally, these get broken into three categories:
The Instagram algorithm is extremely well-tuned to assessing relationships and incorporating relationship data into ranking. The underlying assumption is that the “closer” two accounts are, the more interested they’ll be in each other’s content. While the algorithm can’t actually determine how close two accounts are, it can make an approximation.
Here are the criteria it uses:
- Do you tag each other in your posts?
- Do you follow each other?
- Did you search for each other by name?
- Do you message each other?
- Do you comment on each other’s posts?
Each one of the points above represents a possible “link” between two accounts. Basically, the more “links” you have to another account, the more likely it is that your content will reach them (and visa versa). That means engaging with your followers is a crucial aspect of increasing your organic reach on Instagram.
The Instagram algorithm’s primary function (at least from Instagram’s perspective) is delivering a steady supply of enjoyable content to users of the platform.
It does that by tracking user behaviors such as likes, comments, saves, and walk-throughs and using that data to construct an ever-evolving preference profile. This preference profile is linked to a user’s meta-data, so the algorithm can easily recommend content that matches the profile.
This is an incredibly complex process that Instagram hasn’t shed a ton of light on over the years. However, we can say that the process involves matching users with broad genres of content that have appealed to them in the past. For example, if a user frequently likes posts from a certain food blogger, they’ll likely be shown more food and restaurant content in the future.
If you’re looking to increase your organic reach on Instagram, the most effective method is still creating content that people want to engage with. Getting someone to leave a comment or save a post will drastically increase the likelihood that your content will reach them (and people like them) in the future.
Time and Date Signals
The Instagram algorithm has taken a near-180° turn since the days of the reverse chronological order newsfeed. Today, it assumes that people are most interested in more recent posts and generally ranks posts close to its chronological order. Though there are exceptions to this rule, it’s still important to keep in mind.
In terms of beating the Instagram algorithm, these signals mean that the timing of the post is crucial. If you want to maximize your reach, you need to be posting when your audience is active. That way, you can be sure that your posts are near the top of people’s newsfeeds.
The ranking signals we’ve covered so far have all involved things that you (the poster) have control over. However, there are also ranking factors that are entirely in the hands of your followers. According to Instagram, there are three main factors that increase or decrease the reach of your posts.
- Usage Frequency: How often users open up Instagram has a massive impact on the reach of your posts. Someone who opens Instagram twice a week will likely not be able to keep up with all the content being posted. This will result in a lot of unseen content (i.e., less reach for you). Someone who opens the app twice a day won’t have that problem.
- Session Duration: This factor is similar to the one above. Users that spend a ton of time on Instagram daily will probably be able to keep up with the stream of fresh content being posted to their newsfeeds. Users that use Instagram for a few minutes here and there will probably end up missing the majority of the content that gets posted.
- Following List: The number of accounts that a user follows impacts the number of posts that will be fighting for a place on their newsfeed. If one of your followers only follows 10 accounts total, there is a good chance they’ll catch the majority of your posts. If they follow 1,000 accounts … not so much.
The bottom line is that the Instagram algorithm is a complex thing that is frequently out of your control. However, that’s not to say that it’s impossible to beat it! If you’re interested in growing your organic reach, keep reading.
How To Beat The Instagram Algorithm
Create Video Content & Carousels 📹
Instagram’s main goal is to keep users active, so the more time they spend consuming content on the platform, the better. Static images are easy to scroll past, but videos have a better chance at stopping followers in their tracks—and it’s not like Instagram doesn’t know this 😏 So, it’s likely that your video content will perform better on average. People spend more time-consuming videos, especially if they have a good hook, so make sure the first 5 seconds count. Draw in your existing (and potentially new) followers from the get-go, so they get to know you through your content and engage or visit your page.
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Another great format that keeps users on your feed is Carousels. Again, your followers will devote more of their time to content that tells a story and packs a punch. Carousel slides are a great way to communicate your message, tell a story, or educate your followers on something only you know about. The more you offer something unique on Instagram, the more likely it is that you’ll receive a double tap or comment, which will push your content to more users. So, with Carousels, you can create that ‘hook’ in your first slide and then increase user-time spent on your posts through each slide after.
Think Beyond Likes ❤
It’s easy to get wrapped up in Likes. When conversations around the Instagram algorithm started, most of it was related to the ‘like: follower’ ratio changing, with people experiencing a decrease in Likes as compared to their previous engagement levels. But, Likes aren’t the be-all-end-all, and shouldn’t really be the focus of your strategy if you want to beat the Instagram algorithm in 2022. There are actually more important metrics that signify whether your content is appealing to people.
One metric that is often overlooked, but probably the best indicator of good content is ‘Saves.’ Think about it. When someone saves your content for later, it means they like it that much that they want to look at it again and again. It’s not just a post that appeared in their feed, but a piece of content that resonated with them and made them want to ‘keep it.’ Take a look at your past posts and see which ones are the most Saved. It’ll likely be pieces of content that give something, whether it’s a how-to or a unique makeup look that someone can recreate.
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Another key metric is ‘shares’, or whether people are sharing your content. This goes beyond Saves because people are actually giving your post real estate in their DMs or Stories—they think it is engaging enough that they want other people to see it. And, naturally, if other people see it? That’s a potential increase in not just Likes but comments, followers, and Impressions.
Get into Reels 📹
One thing we can say for certain about Instagram’s algorithm is that it favors its new features. A rule of thumb for any Instagram strategy is to make sure you are taking advantage of the new content formats that the platform rolls out. If you’re one of the first people to use Reels, for example, you’re going to be one of the first Reels that people see.
Reels are shaping up to be one of the best ways to enhance and increase discoverability on Instagram. Why? Because people don’t need to be following you to find your content. Your posts are naturally served to them on the Explore page of Instagram when they are already watching Reels. Also, the Reels that get suggested to them are based on the videos they enjoy or frequently consume in the past, so it’s likely you will reach a more targeted audience—one example where the Instagram algorithm is on your side! Read about how to go viral on Instagram Reels here.
Hashtags are Instagram’s way of searching for and finding content, and this hasn’t changed. One surefire way to up your discoverability and new reach is by using hashtags strategically. This means, selecting hashtags for your posts that are not only suited to your content but also to your current following and engagement. You’re more likely to rank and perform on hashtags that are less competitive, and the best way to select these is with a solid strategy. Research shows that there’s a strong correlation between the number of hashtags you use and the amount of engagement you get on your posts.
If you want to learn more about upping your hashtag game, and finding out which hashtags work for you just click here. With Flick, you can also see exactly which hashtags you are ranking on, so you can determine which ones you should continue to use, and which you might want to replace:
Encourage Interactions & Conversations 🗣
Often, you can increase the reach of your posts just by simply changing the way that you speak to your audience and craft your captions. Encouraging people to engage with your posts is going to up the likelihood that they will respond. For example, ask your followers to tag a friend who might like the post, or ask them a direct question in the caption that they can respond to.
Another easy way to attract engagement is by hosting small giveaways on your feed. Sometimes users need that added incentive to drop a comment or share your post, so consider embedding a giveaway into one of your posts that requires a comment or a share to enter.
Promote Your Content Through Multiple Channels
If you’re looking for easy ways to increase your organic reach on Instagram, it makes a lot of sense to take advantage of Instagram’s diverse set of methods for promoting content. You really do have tons of options.
Let’s start with the basics:
When you make a post, let people know about it through a few different channels. This will help make sure that there are a few different ways for people to stumble across your content without relying solely on your ranking in their newsfeeds.
For example, people generally have far fewer stories to look through than posts when they open up Instagram. That means if you feature your most recent post on your story, people are more likely to see it.
In addition, you can also look for symbiotic relationships with other brands and creators. Joint posting is a great way to connect two distinct groups of followers in a way that’s beneficial for everyone involved.
A joint post guarantees your account will be in front of people who might not usually see your content, and that opens up the possibility of forming new connections.
In addition, even if followers of the other account like and comment on the post without noticing your username, they’ve still created a link (remember that concept from earlier?) with your account in the eyes of the algorithm. That’s a powerful tool for getting your content in front of them on a regular basis.
Be Consistent 🏃♂️
Instagram rewards you for posting on a consistent basis. So, our final tip is to make sure you are posting consistently with a steady stream of content. It can be tough to keep enough content on the back burner if you are posting every single day, so make sure you’re setting a schedule you can keep up with. If you’re struggling, take a look at this article on how to get out of a content rut.
Measure Your Successes (And Failures)
Whenever you’re attempting to grow your Instagram, it’s incredibly important that you a) set clear targets and b) measure KPIs that tell you whether you’ve met them.
That first requirement is fairly easy. To start, all you need to do is think about what your goals are for your Instagram account. Do you want to attract more people to your website?
Do you want to sell products directly through Instagram? Do you just want more followers? Once you’ve chosen your goal, you need to come up with a realistic target. This could be something as simple as, “I want to increase my follower count by 20% by the end of the month”.
After that, you’ll need to choose some metrics that will help you keep track of your progress in relation to your target. Instagram Analytics is a good place to start, but as you begin to get more serious and systematic about Instagram growth you may find yourself looking for additional metrics, features, and reports.
If that sounds like your experience, Flick’s suite of tools and reports might be a perfect fit. Flick offers real-time updates and historic data that stretches back a full year for metrics that capture everything from follower change to account conversion rate. To learn more about these metrics (and tons of others), check out Flick’s guide to Instagram analytics.
We hope you enjoyed this article on how to beat the Instagram algorithm in 2022! If you want to up your hashtag game and start reaching people within your niche, you can check out our free hashtag academy below: