Want to get a better idea of the Instagram algorithm and how it decides what content each user displays – and how you can use it to your advantage?
You’re in luck – this week as part of it Creator Week Event, Instagram provides some extra information about its internal processes through a series of commentators, the first of which focuses on the sad input algorithmand how it itself dictates the accessibility of application content.
As explained Instagram:
“We want to do a better job of explaining how Instagram works. There’s a lot of misunderstanding, and we recognize that we can do more to help people understand what we’re doing. Today we share the first post in the series that sheds more light on Instagram technology and how it affects people’s experience in the app.”
The message covers several key elements that can help you better understand and improve the design of your application. Here is an overview of the key points.
There is no one comprehensive algorithm
Instagram first notes that its processes are not defined by a single algorithm, so the idea of an algorithm per se is a bit flawed.
“There is no single algorithm on Instagram that controls what people do and what they don’t see in an application. We use different algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose. We want to make the most of your time, and we believe that using technology to identify experience is the best way to do it. “
Instagram explains that, like Facebook, it introduced an algorithm because the content flow became too much for each user to navigate.
“By 2016, people were missing 70% of all their feeds, including nearly half of their close connections. So we developed and implemented a feed that categorized posts based on what you care about the most.”
Therefore, its feeds and Stories algorithms tend to focus on friends, while Explore and Reels search for relevant topics based on trends, interests, etc.
Instagram says all of its algorithms use key signals whose signals vary by element.
Instagram points out that its systems can receive “thousands” of signals, but the main feeds in feeds and stories in order of importance are:
About the mail – These are signals as well as how popular the post is – think about how many people have liked it – and more everyday information about the content itself, such as when it was posted, how long it was if the video, and what location, if any, was attached to it.
Information about the person who sent it – This helps us understand how interesting a person can be to you, and includes signals such as how many times people have been in contact with that person over the past few weeks.
Your actions – This will help us understand what might interest you, and include signals like how many posts you’ve liked.
Your history interacts with someone – This gives us an idea of how interested you are usually in seeing a particular person’s posts. An example is whether or not you comment on each other’s posts.
These are common algorithm tags, similar to a Facebook news feed, and the key elements are what types of messages you are dealing with and the relationship with each creator.
If you’re dealing with a video more often, you’ll see more videos, if the post is committed a lot, you’ve probably seen it, if you tap Like a particular post, it’s a strong indicator of interest, etc.
In this context, it is worth noting that these elements apply to both main feeds and stories, so if you want to maximize coverage on these surfaces, these are the most important elements you need to focus on.
In addition to this, Instagram also notes that the ranking of feeds is also based on the engagement history of each user:
“In the feed program, we take a closer look at the five interactions are how likely you are to spend a few seconds on a post, comment on it, like it, save it, and tap the profile picture. The more likely you take action, and the more we press it, the higher you see the post.”
Again, it’s about encouraging action – how can you maximize the appeal of your content to get such responses? This will help ensure that more of your messages are prioritized for each user.
The Inatsgram Discovery tab is a little different, and the Explore algorithm focuses on showing you other content you might like, based on the people you follow and your engagement history.
“We’ll find photos and videos you might be interested in by looking at signals like what messages you’ve liked, saved, and commented on in the past. Let’s say you’ve liked several photos of San Francisco chef Cathay Bi recently. Let’s see who else likes Cathay’s photos, and then what else accounts those people are interested in. Maybe people who like Cathay are also in place of the SF sum at Dragon Beaux, in which case the next time you open Explore, we might show you a photo or video of Dragon Beaux.In practice, this means that if you’re interested in dumplings, you may see posts on related topics like Gyoza and dim sum without necessarily understanding what each post is about. “
So the idea here is that the algorithm displays content based on clusters to related groups of people – if you’re regularly connected to a profile that shares fishing content, it’s likely that other people dealing with the same will also search other fishing accounts you might also be interested in.
Here, hashtags can help improve discovery by putting your account in front of people looking for specific topics. If they then come into contact with your messages, it will increase your chances of appearing to their contacts and so on.
Like feeds and stories, Instagram places a Explore list based on how likely each user is to interact with each post.
“Once we’ve found a set of photos and videos you might be interested in, we order them based on how interested we think you are in each, just as we rate feeds and stories. The best way to guess how interested you are in something is to predict how likely you are to do something with the message. The most important functions we predict in Explore are liking, saving, and sharing. “
Recording has become a more important aspect in recent times, and some point out that savings have more weight in the algorithm distribution, which may or may not be wrong. But it’s certainly an element that Instagram has now explicitly noticed, so it’s worth thinking about how you can encourage the recording of your posts, as this can play a role in improving Explore exposure.
It’s also worth noting that while the Explore feed is also categorized based on personal engagement elements (user-generated message types, account relationship, etc.), how popular a post is based on broader engagement signals is much more noticed in Explore and sees more visibility in Explore. in the feed.
The latest element defined by Instagram’s algorithm is TikTok like Reels, which according to the algorithm “focused especially on what can entertain you. “
“We research people and ask if they think a particular puck is entertaining or fun, and we learn from the feedback to get a better idea of what entertains people by looking at smaller factors. Our main predictions are how likely you are to watch the reel all the time, like it, say it was entertaining or funny, and go to the audio page (proxy about whether you might inspire you to make your own reel.) ”
TikTok has almost supplemented the most fascinating version of the short video algorithm with its system of accurate right signals to show you a continuous stream of content that you can only scroll through based on trends, factors, content from each clip, etc.
Instagram is now striving to catch up, and anecdotally it will improve as the reel display attaches to similar elements to make it a more sticky and interesting proposition for users who use reel feed.
Regarding coils, Instagram says these are the four key focus areas of its algorithm:
Your actions – We look at things like reels you’ve liked, commented on and dealt with lately. These signals help us understand what content may be relevant to you.
Your history interacts with the sender – As with Explore, the video was probably made by someone you’ve never heard of, but if you’ve been in contact with them, it gives us an idea of how interested you might be in the content they share.
About the reel – These are signals about the content of the video, such as the soundtrack, understanding of the video based on pixels and whole frames, and popularity.
Information about the person who sent it – We think popularity helps to find compelling content from many people and allows everyone to find their audience.
So content and the popularity of content providers are bigger factors for the reels overall, but it’s also worth noting that Instagram does limits the reach of coils containing the TikTok watermark or the like, which is meant to improve the user experience (i.e., people simply criticize Kolo as a re-shuffled feed for TikTok clips, so now it looks like such redistribution will be stopped).
These are helpful tips on how Instagram’s different algorithms work and how it displays specific content to users – and what each content provider should focus on to improve reach. Basically, it depends on the audience’s understanding – doubling what works and dropping to what people don’t respond to – to maximize these key factors and increase engagement first with your followers, then with the wider audience.
Some important notes on IG design. You can read Instagram’s full algorithm explanator, which also includes notes on Shadowbanning, here.