Promotion on Instagram in 2021. How do the algorithms work? How to increase the reach?

9 June 2021

Instagram Feed

Instagram Feed is the main and the most frequently used feature. Since the feed doesn’t show the posts you have already seen, it’s called a smart feed.

How does Instagram know what posts are worth showing in the feed?

If you open your feed, it will look like all posts are displayed chronologically. But it is not always true; Instagram tends to skip a lot of content. The way the smart feed works is quite simple: according to certain standards, it shows popular posts that are actively viewed, liked, and commented on. Instagram does its best to keep you engaged, striving to show you interesting personalized content.

How does Instagram understand if the content is interesting or not?

Instagram categorizes your content by your reactions. For example, the post was published 5, 10, or 15 minutes ago. Instagram will time it and track the activity: how many likes, comments, reposts, and saves the post gets. Do people give many likes to the post? Do they press “More” to read the whole text? Do they read the post till the end? All these parameters are measured. Next, Instagram arranges the posts and shows only the ones with many views. Due to this reason, you don’t see all posts. The posts categorized as “not interesting” for the audience, meaning that they didn’t get many views and likes, won’t be shown in the feed; otherwise, they will be at the very bottom of it, and you won’t probably even scroll down this far.

To improve your reach, your content must be not only read, viewed, and liked, but also interacted with: people should comment, repost, and save your post. Besides looking at your picture, the users should also spend 5, 10, 30 seconds reading your text. This way, your posts will enjoy a high reach.

Explore page

Smart feed is now divided into two parts:

  1. Content followed by you
  2. Recommended posts: you don’t follow this content, but you may like it

What content is shown on the Explore page? This type of content is related to your interests. Instagram knows your interests and the content you like: photos or videos, certain topics, accounts.

Where does Instagram get this content from? Mostly, it consists of popular accounts and content with lots of interactions (likes, comments). However, it is quite difficult to get to the Explore page if you have a relatively new and small account. Normally, only popular accounts are shown on the Explore page as well as the content Instagram considers interesting.

If you want to get on the Explore page, you need to have many followers, a significant reach, and an engaged audience. If you only have a couple of thousands of followers, your chances of getting on the Explore page are quite low.

For this reason, your reach is never equal to the number of followers. The number of views and interactions is usually lower than the number of followers because there is a lot of content, and the competition is high. Instagram might have stopped showing your content to certain users. For instance, Instagram might have shown your content once or twice, but the users didn’t like your post. Now, Instagram knows that these people aren’t interested in your content.

Only thanks to qualitative content you may increase your reach. If you create boring content or steal it from someone else, Instagram won’t show it to your followers, unless they demonstrate genuine interest. That is why comments, likes, reposts, saved posts, and other interactions are crucial.


Carousel

Why do people add pictures to a carousel more often these days? Why do they post a couple of pictures at a time instead of posting just one? Their goal is to increase the retention rate indicating that the users spend a lot of time interacting with the content, meaning that the content is interesting for them.

How can you increase the retention rate? Post four pictures instead of one. This way, the users will interact with your content 4 times longer. Nowadays, people rarely post only one picture. So, posting several pictures and even videos is more popular.

 


Instagram smart algorithms

Instagram has truly smart algorithms. Instagram knows what the photo is about and what is on it. It can detect whether the quality of the picture is good or bad. The algorithms and artificial intelligence can easily evaluate the quality of the content: whether the picture is good or not, sharp or blurry. Instagram considers resolution, brightness, contrast, and color saturation. It also knows the source you took the picture from.

Moreover, Instagram detects when the picture was taken – at what time, on what device, what resolution it has, and whether it has been previously uploaded to the Internet or not. So, when it comes to stealing the content and using someone’s content, Instagram gives preferences to the custom-created original content. It also considers the quality – how sharp, bright, saturated, or visually cluttered a picture is and its resolution. All these parameters can be easily scanned by the algorithms.

Remember: the content should be qualitative and original. Stealing content makes little sense.

Explore page

Getting there becomes easier. You might have already noticed that there are some accounts that you don’t follow, but you have visited them a couple of times – such accounts are also shown in this section. A pursuit algorithm has noticed that you visit certain pages from time to time, but you don’t follow them for some reason. So, Instagram is going to show new posts from these accounts in this section. If Instagram has detected you visiting an account and being active there for 10-15 minutes watching videos even without giving likes or leaving comments, such an account will be displayed on your Explore page, too.


Stories

How are Stories ranged on Instagram? Instagram tracks the time you spend watching Stories of a certain creator. If you watch someone’s Stories every day, don’t skip them, leave reactions, and take part in polls, Instagram understands that you are interested in this author. As a result, their Stories will be located closer to the beginning of your Stories feed.

Frequency also matters. For example, you need to post Stories every two hours to be closer to the beginning of the Stories feed.

You can increase your reach if you post regularly. Stories should be posted throughout the day. The next key moment is retention. You should make Stories with interactive elements, encouraging the users to read them. If it is a 15-second video in Stories, people should watch it till the end without skipping.

Stories should be different: a “talking head,” a general view, a photo, a distant view: your content should be diverse. As you know, people like variety.