How the Instagram Algorithm Works in 2020 (and how to beat it!)

Last updated: 03-02-2020

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How the Instagram Algorithm Works in 2020 (and how to beat it!)

Experienced marketers claim that Instagram will remain one of the best platforms for advertising businesses. At the moment, this social media channel is one of the top five in the advertising world, behind Facebook and WeChat. Yet, according to statistics from eMarketer, things will change. Their research has shown that US marketers plan tospend 69% moreon Instagram than last year.

Instagram has changed a lot over the years. Starting with its main aesthetics, through its logo, and then the most important change happened. When the platform switched from chronological to the algorithmic way of showing content, a lot of influencers felt like they were losing their audience. Many people felt the drop in their reach, but eventually, everything became better.

By learning how Instagram’s algorithm works in 2020, we will be able to explore the endless possibilities of this platform and create engaging pages with great organic traffic.

People who are new to Instagram marketing will tell you that Instagram Algorithm has its own mysterious ways. Professional marketers who follow the latest trends from the Instagram blog, attend conferences, and read relevant websites will assure you that there is no mystery. There is only pure logic and knowledge about the basic principles of social media marketing.

Just like Google and Facebook, Instagram is constantly evolving, with a desire to give its users the best possible experience. This platform is not the same platform it was three years ago. Since posts don’t show up in chronological order like they used to, you will see the newest posts on the feed only if you scroll long enough. They’re all there, but they’re organized according to different levels of priority. The dream of every marketer is to know how their content can be in front of the customer’s eyes as soon as they open the app.

As Julian K.Gutman, the Product Lead of Instagram, said in a conference, Instagram in 2020 will be all about engagement, frequency, and communication. But, to create a perfect mixture and have all three, you have to be committed. You must be able to use new features and know a few simple tips when creating content.

Now, let’s bust some Instagram-related myths and find out how to beat the Instagram algorithm!

The goal of the platform is to have more and more users, but they don’t need just any user. They need committed users who will spend a lot of time on their platform. Those who will see ads, and ultimately create profit for them. Engaging real, active users in different communities is helping them achieve this goal.

Are you a brand or business? Check out our 19 Likeable Instagram Ideas for Business!

In August 2016,Instagram introduced Stories, and this form of content is now one of the main factors behind its popularity. With more than 500 million people watching Instagram Stories every day, this feature has great potential. If you learn your way around its algorithm, the Stories feature can become the perfect tool to help you convert followers into regular customers.

When creating an Instagram Story, you must be careful of the structure and aesthetics in order to get your audience involved. The Stories algorithm works very simply. It shows you the profiles you’re most interested in, according to your interactions (likes, messages, comments, story watching). It also shows you active accounts from your friends list that have new content.

There are many ways to create engaging Instagram Stories. Using video features and “question” stickers can help you tell the story of your brand or product. Bycreating relatable Stories, you’re starting a conversation with your audience, and Instagram sees that as a signal to put your content on top for the people who actively engage with it. 

As I mentioned earlier, the algorithm focuses on finding which accounts are interested in your content. Now thatInstagram is testing removing likes, how do we get high engagement rates that are valuable to its algorithm?

Before you start to panic, remember that engagement is not about likes. It’s about sharing content, saving it to collections, and starting conversations about it. Now that you can save posts on your own private mood-boards, and shared via Instagram Stories, reach is calculated differently.

Removing likes might not be as huge a deal as it sounded in the first place, and it may actually have a positive effect on the whole community – but we can discuss that later.

Instagram is going through a writing renaissance, and with more space for captions,microblogging via Instagrambecame a very important part of content strategy. Users are spending more time on the platform, reading long captions, and the Instagram algorithm loves that. Brands can use this trend to get personal, give tips, or write relatable stories about their employees.

If you have good photos or great articles on your website that weren’t seen because of Instagram’s algorithm changes, you can try to recycle that content with microblogging.

For example, travel bloggers use long captions to write about their journeys, share what happens behind the scenes, or write tips about the destinations they visited. It’s important to share something helpful and interesting to your audience and inspire them to save or share your content.

Many brands today have come to realize that their Instagram feed is becoming their new home page. And so, a carefully crafted feed aesthetic becomes really important. Instagram is, after all, a visual platform, and exhibiting a unique aesthetic will help your brand to become memorable. 

With a descriptive bio that focuses on your target customer and good aesthetics, it will be easier for them to connect. The name part of your profile is the only part of your bio that can be searchable, so put a bit of effort into crafting it.

When it comes to aesthetics that will be interesting in 2020, we can’t overlook the rise of non-edited images and images that are “more real”. It seems that we’ve come a long way from the first“Instagram vs Reality” memethat appeared in 2012.

In the past few years, influencers realized that being vulnerable and relatable is the thing that brings them a lot of attention. When I say attention, I mean reach and ads.

That’s why it’s not uncommon to see freckles, no-makeup looks, tears, and images that look like eastern European flea markets. Minimalistic, pale pink, and retro feeds still communicate well with young audiences, and it will stay that way for a while. Pay attention to that retro vibe, use nostalgia, and don’t be afraid to experiment with “realness”. Everybody likes to see something cute, nostalgic, relatable – and it all has to have a story behind it. 

All in all, it seems like 2020 will be the year without likes and overly edited posts. As your inspiration, you can check out a few micro-influencers (who typically count anywhere between 1000 and 1 000 000 followers), and get the picture.

As we already learned, Instagram’s algorithm is trying to show you, on your feed, people that you know and care about. Since it cannot dive into your soul, it uses simple metrics such as the number of replies and the amount of time spent on other people’s profiles. If you get involved in someone’s Instagram feed or their Stories by sending some kind of reaction, the algorithm will remember that. Simple communication will be understood as friendship, and you will appear more frequently in their feeds.

That’s why it is so important to turn on notifications for comments on your Instagram. When you do that, you will never miss a chance to communicate with the active members of your audience. If you’re just starting out, good advice is to comment and send reactions to people that you consider your target audience.

If you’re using Instagram Stories to spread the word about your brand, make sure to send at least an emoji to every reaction on your Story. That is what makes all the difference. It might look like a waste of time, but it is actually time well spent on widening the number of regular viewers of your Stories. Show them respect and love, and they will love you back.

Last but not least: in 2020, you have to stop thinking about bots. Focus on creating bonds with influencers that are popular in your niche. Comment on their posts, ask engaging questions, share their content, and cultivate a community that supports you no matter what.

This platform loves having its audience around. That’s the reason why they used the basic principles of human psychology when creating their algorithms. And that’s why they made use of our natural human tendency to stick to habits and rituals.  

For example, if you post only on Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday, people will remember that and return on your profile then. If you don’t have a schedule for your posts, they will forget about you. Some brands can manage to post a few times during the day, and when they stop doing that for one day, you can see the effect of the algorithm. That is why it is quite helpful to use Instagram tools that can help a lot when you are lacking organisational skills. Or when you want to have a free weekend.

You can choose what’s best for your brand depending on the amount of content you have. Whether that’s going to be one post per day or four per week is up to you. But, you must stay focused and consistent. The algorithm will memorize your frequency, so when you forget to post at the expected time, you will be “punished” with less engagement.

The same rule goes for Instagram Stories. If you post Stories regularly, you will automatically appear at the Stories row on the top of a user’s feed, because Instagram loves content creators. 

Find the best time for you to post on Instagram and read our article: Best Time to Post on Instagram for MAX Engagement.

If you have trouble with creating content constantly, you should invest in tools that can help you with that. MavSocial has afeature that helps recycleyour old Instagram posts. It also helps you maintain consistency with content scheduling.

Maybe you’ve been posting content without success before. But now that you have all this knowledge about Instagram’s algorithm, you can try to reuse your most interesting posts and present them at the right time.

Social Media automation should be a part of every digital marketing strategy in 2020 because it makes beating the algorithm easier and faster. So for example, when you make use of content scheduling, you can prepare your posts in advance. Take the time to craft them carefully, and ensure they will be published at the right moment. Also, if you plan ahead, you can put all the pieces together carefully and tell your story better.

They might seem irrelevant, but hashtags are powerful weapons for creating viral content. It’s important to know that Instagram now has an option of following hashtags, which is giving hashtags more relevance.

You can place them after your caption, or use the comment option when you post. It’s advised to post 30 hashtags to boost your engagement, but some marketers find that tactic spammy and prefer between 3 and 11 hashtags. My advice is to use as many hashtags as you want. Just make sure each one is relevant and place them as a comment beneath your post.

Two other good places for hashtags are within your copy and within your Instagram Story. They’re always an interesting addition to your content because people know that when they click on a hashtag, it will lead them to similar posts.

When you look at it closely, there are only a few things every marketer should do to beat the Instagram algorithm. 

First, post engaging content with hashtags and cultivate a memorable aesthetic. 

Second, post content regularly and maintain consistency. To help you succeed, you have a number of marketing automation tools at your disposal.  

Last, but definitely not least, is to facilitate interaction and take part in the dialogue with your audience. That way, you’re setting yourself up for success by creating meaningful bonds with your followers. 

According to the head chef of Instagram,Adam Mosseri,the platform is concerned about the wellbeing of its visitors. He claims that they’re doing everything they can to give us the most relevant and fastest user experience with these algorithm changes. They understand that this platform needs to be mindful of its role in modern society and the mental health of its users. If it isn’t, it will become useless and forgotten, just like many social platforms that came before it.


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