Our lovely Narz hosted a July workshop on behalf of Muses with Eduardo Morales, based in Brooklyn, NY, and runs @pinlord, @potteryforall, and @macramemakers. He is also the organizer for the Instagram Growth Hacking Meetup in NYC. Below is his post on how the instagram algorithm works:

To understand how the Instagram Algorithm works, it’s important to understand how Instagram itself works:

Instagram wants to show you content that delights you because delightful content will keep your attention on the app for longer and increase the likelihood of you coming back to the app more often. Your attention is what they sell to advertisers to make money, so every single part of the app is designed to maximize the attention they get from you, and their algorithm is no different.

The Instagram algorithm evaluates the engagement metrics that they consider are indicative of how delightful a piece of content is. This is how it works whenever you upload a new post:

  1. Your new post is shown to a small percentage of your total audience.
  2. It measures how fast and how often that small percentage of your audience engages (looks at, likes, comments, shares and saves) with your posts, videos and stories.
  3. It compares the engagement of your new posts, videos and stories to the engagement of previous posts, videos and stories of yours, on similar days and times.
  4. If it is getting less engagement than your average, the post is shown to a smaller percentage of your audience and it’s shown farther down on their home page = less people see your posts and discover your page.
  5. If it is getting more engagement than your average, then a larger percentage of your audience sees it and the higher it appears on people’s home feeds, as well as having a higher likelihood of being shown on other Explorer Pages = more people see your posts and discover your page.

People “hack” the algorithm because they know which engagement metrics it evaluates (i.e. how fast and how often your audience looks at, likes, comments, shares and saves your new posts and stories). So, they change the way they use the app to favor those metrics and “trick” the algorithm into believing their content is more delightful. By doing this, they are ranked higher on people’s home and explorer pages, which means that more eyes see their content and discover their page. This doesn’t mean their content is necessarily “more delightful”, they just understand how the algorithm evaluates content and they use that knowledge in order to be surfaced to more people. If you are a business on Instagram that earns an income by being discovered by more people, this knowledge can be a very valuable.

So now that you know how the algorithm works, what should you do about it?

Post at times that your audience is actively using the app:

If you post at random times during the day when fewer of your followers are on Instagram, your content is less likely to be engaged-with early on and the algorithm is more likely to downgrade you. The most effective free tool I’ve come across to help you figure out what times your audience is on the app is Squarelovin. Here’s how their analytics look:

Maximize both your visual value AND your content value:

People evaluate your post based on a) how GREAT it looks and b) how informative/entertaining/sincere/insightful/cute/caring its content is. To increase the engagement your posts receive, which will rank you higher in the algorithm, you should always post GREAT photos and create content that gives your audience value. Every audience and account is unique so what’s valuable will be different for everyone, but an objective way to measure this is through your Instagram Insights engagement page. Here’s how you do it:

Go to your Instagram Insights page, tap into the POSTS section and tap in the Filter section at the top within that page.

Read full article on Eduardo’s Medium page.