Increase Your Engagement
Understanding Instagram’s algorithm is imperative to grow any Instagram account. Whether building a brand for business or gaining followers for a personal account, this formula plays a major role in the overall visibility of any account’s content.
Instagram Business Model
To best understand the Instagram algorithm, one must understand the fundamentals of Instagram’s business model.
So how does Instagram actually make money? Advertising.
In 2018, Instagram generated between 8 and 9 billion dollars from selling ad inventory. Instagram’s massive advertising revenue is due to the effectiveness of ad placement within its platform, which can be heavily attributed to their content delivery algorithm.
Instagram realizes their overall value rests heavily with the amount of time each individual user spends on their platform. The more time each individual spends on their news feed, the more ads can be delivered to them, and the more money Instagram makes.
Instagram Revenue Examples
For simplicity, let’s say Instagram makes $1 per ad that is delivered to an individual and they average delivering 1 ad per minute of time that users spend on their newsfeed.
If User A spends 10 minutes on Instagram per day, he/she will see 10 ads and Instagram will make $10 per day. However, if Instagram’s algorithm delivers more relevant, engaging content to User A, and he/she stays on for 1 hour per day, Instagram will make $60 per day.
As such, Instagram’s algorithm is designed to deliver the most relevant content to each user to maximize the amount of time they spend on the platform. More time = More money.
The core principles of Instagram’s business model are very simple to understand. The longer each user stays on, the more money Instagram will make. The content delivery algorithm is built off this principle and delivers content in a way to maximize the amount of time each user spends on the platform.
It’s not just ads. All content delivered is built off this principle. Even if an individual is following an account, that does not guarantee that account’s post will be shown on their news feed.
The IG Algorithm
Instagram’s content delivery algorithm is a formula based on 4 key factors. These factors are interest, timeliness, relevance, and competition.
What is an individual’s interest? What type of accounts are they following? What type of posts are they liking and commenting on? Who are they DM’ing and what are those people’s interest?
The first key factor in determining content delivery is what is an individual’s interest. Instagram stores and categorizes every user’s behavior within the Instagram platform. The compilation of this behavior ultimately determines a user’s interest.
There are numerous components that determine someone’s interest and an individual can have multiple interests.
The main interest factor takeaway is Instagram followers are most likely to be delivered content that matches the niches they are interested in. If someone with an interest in bodybuilding is following both a fitness account and travel account, Instagram’s algorithm would likely pick delivering fitness posts as opposed to travel ones.
How often does the follower interact with an account’s posts (like, comment, or view)? Does the follower have a DM history with the account? How many shared followers?
Like interest, relevance is another complex factor. Instagram wants to shows users posts from accounts that are relevant and personal.
The algorithm puts a high value on engagement and personal relationships. As such, all forms of engagement play into relevance.
Once again, Instagram wants to display content that is going to keep users on the platform. The algorithm realizes that individuals are more likely to like, comment or otherwise engage with posts from people they know or business websites they have already interacted with.
How do an account’s posts stack up to posts from other accounts?
If an individual is following 5 accounts, all the content from all accounts will likely make it to their news feed. If an individual is following 500 accounts, space will be limited and the algorithm will have to determine which content to display.
Competition is the final factor that determines which posts will be shown to which users. Every time a user opens their app, there is a massive battle among accounts fighting for limited news feed space.
Ultimately, Instagram only wants to display the best, most relevant, newest post to each individual. Having better content than the competition is vital to overall visibility.
The Instagram algorithm can be conquered. Here are a few tips to help you win and be displayed on your followers’ news feeds. For more tips, check out, How to Beat Instagram’s Algorithm 2019.
- Post your best images
- Bad post with low engagement will hurt you and limit future post reach
- Perfect your grid
- Show consistency, perfect color scheme and focus on a specific niche
- Ask questions in your captions to spur comments
- More comments boost overall relevance
- Post when your followers are most active
- Use the insights tool and time posts when your followers are most likely to be online
- Post carousels with multiple pictures
- Carousels make users swipe, which takes time, boosting your overall relevance
- Tag people in posts and get them tagging you
- The more overall engagement you have, the higher your account’s relevance
Focus on the Fundamentals
Instagram is a multi-billion dollar company. There are no tricks or gimmicks that will be sustainable in the long run. Ultimately, Instagram will know if an account’s followers and engagement is organic or by paid bots.
By focusing on what the Instagram algorithm is designed to promote, accounts can successfully rise to the top and maximize visibility.