Instagram Sheds Light on the Algorithm

social media social media for creatives social media for entrepreneurs social media marketing Jun 14, 2021

What's Happening

Instagram’s revealing details about how the algorithm works. Social platforms are historically tight-lipped or completely mute on the topic of how posts are shown to your followers. Instagram posted an article Tuesday “shedding more light” on how it all works. And, they label this article as the first in a series. There’s more light to come!


Use it for Your Business

I recommend spending 10 minutes to read the entire article; however, the following are the points that stood out to me:

Different algorithms are used based upon the type of feed: Your main feed, Stories, the Explore tab and the Reels tab each have different algorithms guided by different “signals.” 

Nerd Alert: I love that they tell us their own internal jargon for the information the app is recording and using to guess which posts you’ll like.

The feed and Stories are filled with posts of those you follow (unless it’s an ad). Your post is shown to one of your followers based upon their previous interactions with you and if they typically engage with posts about the same topic. The more they interact with you and posts in your niche, the more your posts will be shown to them.

The Explore and Reels algorithms are different because they are comprised of posts Instagram goes out and finds for you. If you’re looking to grow your following on Instagram, this is where you want your posts to land! 

The secret to landing in the Explore tab:

“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.”

The Good News: Yes, it’s a popularity contest. However, you’re not competing with all of Instagram. You’re competing with similar posts in your niche. This is good news! Getting into the Explore tab doesn’t mean you’re the most popular. Appearing in a potential follower’s Explore tab means it’s highly likely they’re YOUR person, your ideal customer.

Also important to note is the first factor ranked by Instagram in each of these feeds is the subject of the post. Every single time you post, you have the opportunity to be seen if it’s a topic the person is interested in.

Shadowbanning is a myth: Not everyone is referring to the same thing when they say they have been “shadowbanned” but, in general, they are referring to the fact that they are getting fewer likes and comments on posts than they were previously. Most often I hear this attached to using banned hashtags. Instagram’s response in the article is that your engagement will go up and down based upon what you’re posting.

“The truth is most of your followers won’t see what you share, because most look at less than half of their Feed.”

Translation: Calm down and work to create posts that will grab your followers’ attention.



Relevancy Rating:

Just because it's new doesn't mean it's worth your time: Is learning how the algorithm works worth your time?

MAYBE!: I give it 3 out of 5 thumbs up.

A 3 Rating Means: Don’t prioritize it over mission-critical strategies, but it could be worth it for your mental health if you’re trying to grow your following on Instagram.

Knowing this information helps me to get out of the victim mode when my numbers aren’t growing how I would like them to and refocus on creating valuable content for my community.


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