WHAT IS “THE INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM”?
The short answer: A mathematical formula that decides what you’re shown as a user on Instagram.
The Instagram algorithm decides what you see when you first log on to the app, what order you’re shown posts in, and what you’re shown on Instagram’s ‘Explore’ page. It’s important because once you understand it you can make sure your posts are seen by as many people as possible, helping you to grow your following and go viral.
WHY DOES IT EXIST?
The short answer: To show you only the ‘best’ content when you go on Instagram.
Boasting over a billion users, Instagram needs a way to automatically decide what content to show you in the news feed.
As a user, you’re following many different accounts. If all the accounts post at similar times, Instagram needs a way of comparing these posts to decide which post to show you first in the news feed. Why? Because it wants to show you the ‘best’ posts first and feature those on the 'Explore' page. It's the algorithms goal to make sure you have the best user experience possible. The algorithm automates this process of deciding which posts are high quality enough to show you first in the feed, and/or on the 'Explore' page.
WHAT DOES THE ALGORITHM LOOK AT?
The short answer: It looks at the likes, comments, saves, video watch time and video completion rate on your posts. It uses these performance metrics to judge whether or not your post is better than another.
Instagram’s algorithm looks at a range of factors when comparing posts to decide what to show you. This includes how many likes, comments, and saves your posts have. It also includes the average watch time on your videos, how many times they’ve been watched, and how long people stay on your profile and page. These are just a few of the factors that the algorithm uses to decide which post is better than another, to then determine which post to show you first on your newsfeed, and which posts to show you in your ‘Explore’ page.
CAN IT BE BEATEN?
The short answer: Yes.
Once you reverse engineer the algorithm and know what it looks for, you can create strategies to beat it and significantly increase the likelihood of Instagram showing your posts to more people, with the aim of getting it on the ‘Explore’ page and make you go viral.