In the summer of 2021, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri talked on the official blog about how giving away content online works. In this article, five key thoughts and advice on what businesses should do about it.
The algorithm isn’t omnipotent. There’s a single Instagram content algorithm that tracks all users’ actions and determines what to show people in the app. Once you understand how the algorithm works, you understand the whole system regarding Instagram content.
When talking about it, the Instagram team takes the word “algorithm” itself in quotes. That’s because there is no single mechanism for ranking content. There are many separate groups of algorithms and classifiers aimed at different tasks.
There are such groups in every section of the app – publications, stories, Reels and recommendations. And they work differently in different sections.
If we try to simplify our understanding of Instagram’s content algorithm, the key is still user interest. Since Instagram abandoned the chronological order of posts in 2016, the network’s main priority is to show people more of what they like or care about.
HOW TO BE EFFECTIVE WITH INSTAGRAM CONTENT IN 2022
Focus on content and be attentive to your audience. Get rid of “bots,” communicate with subscribers, and encourage engagement (not with non-stop contests, but with live interest and comments).
Decide on the frequency of posts, create a content plan several weeks in advance and try to use the peak hours of audience activity – you can see this information in your account statistics. Use a content planner to create beautiful visuals and organize ideas.
“Reaches and account statistics are always a consequence of hypothesis testing. Research your audience’s interests and needs. Try new things. If a tool doesn’t work, think about how to finish it, or do something else. The sooner you abandon ineffective tools, the sooner you’ll get the results you want.
NO SHADOW INSTAGRAM BAN???
Shadow banning is a curse for bloggers and business accounts. Once you fall into Instagram’s disfavor because of a complaint about a single post, the profile is forever off your subscribers’ radar. Writing to support is useless, you need to look for a “specialist.
With the shadow ban, as with the algorithm, it’s not all that simple. Adam Mosseri talks about it as a kind of abstract concept. People use it to refer to any restrictions that seem incomprehensible or unfair, from deleting a post to having fewer likes and comments than usual.
He acknowledges that the rules are complicated, and the developers’ explanations for their actions may not always be clear to users.
Support receives millions of complaints about content every day, and even a 1% processing error affects thousands of users. Along with implementing the rules, the Instagram team is constantly improving the systems of notification and processing of appeals.
At the same time, restrictions imposed on a single post do not affect the account as a whole, unless you systematically violate the rules and knowingly publish false information.
HOW TO DEAL WITH IT
First and foremost, it’s worth accepting that most subscribers don’t see what you share because they view less than half of your feed.
To improve your audience’s reach, be aware of Instagram’s guidelines for potentially inappropriate content.
Encourage users to be active and share your content. But don’t resort to “gray schemes” that Instagram recognizes as suspicious profile activity.
HOW INSTAGRAM CONTENT IS RANKED
No matter how cool the content in a business account is, don’t get your hopes up for free promotion. To be constantly on the radar of your audience, you need to spend more money on advertising.
We’ve already found that Instagram’s content ranking principles work differently in different sections. While in the feed and stories people more often want to see content from friends and favorite bloggers, in the recommendations and Reels go for news and for entertainment.
According to Instagram’s creators, promotional posts and stories are more like exceptions. The vast majority of what appears in a user’s feed has to do with their mutual interests with those they follow.
HOW TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF INSTAGRAM POSTS AND STORIES
The prominence in the feed of Instagram posts and stories is influenced by:
– A user’s activity – the number of posts viewed and liked, comments, reactions, saves, reposts;
– history of interaction with other users – how interested the user is in reciprocal communication through comments and tags;
– account information – how many times other users have interacted with the account in the past few weeks;
– Publication “attributes” – geo-positioning, account marks, stickers.
Speaking of the last one on the list. Remember the story of the “Stay home” sticker and the like at the beginning of the pandemic: the sticker gave visible priority in the Stories feed, and everyone added it until it was no longer effective.
Roughly the same thing happens on the “invisible front” of ranking posts and stories, only many individual attributes are taken into account.
When it comes to recommendations, it’s a little more complicated. Let me explain with an example.
The other day, you liked a wakeboard instructor’s post. Instagram evaluates who else liked this and the instructor’s other posts. Then it looks at what other accounts those people are interested in. Maybe they like wakeboarding or something close to it, too. After a while, you’ll open the recommendations and see photos or videos of wakeboarding or saps there.
And something else you weren’t interested in, but the instructor’s followers like it. This way Instagram tests the hypothesis and “learns” to be more interesting to you.
HOW TO WORK WITH IT
Above I used the metaphor of “Instagram is learning” for a reason. In all learning, systematicity is important in your Affiliate marketing. If you want your content to be properly learned, develop a systematic approach to presenting it.
You don’t want to drop your account for a few days and then come back with a ton of interesting news. Publishing posts every hour is not a good idea either. Instagram cannot show too many posts from the same user in a row. This is well illustrated by a long series of stories, with each successive post gaining fewer views.
“We decided to change our publishing strategy in our clients’ accounts. We cut back to three postings a week and the number of stories to five or six per day. In all of the accounts where we applied this tactic, the metrics improved. We realized that we used to just ‘torture’ our subscribers with daily postings and dozens of stories a day!”
THE INSTAGRAM USERS CONTROL WHAT THEY SEE?
Instagram content output is influenced by app usage scenarios and activity that users often unknowingly display. That’s why we get “caught up” by uninteresting promotional posts, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
In reality, how users interact with others, how often they revisit stories, and like the direct mail posts, does matter. But there are several ways in which you can influence your output:
– Generate a list of close friends – the option not only allows you to highlight a group of subscribers with whom you can share more personal content, but also affects the priority of content from those close to you;
– hide an uninteresting account – an alternative to the unsubscribe option, in which one user no longer sees updates from another;
– mark recommended publications as uninteresting – promotional publications in the feed or popular publications in the recommendations can be hidden so that the network no longer shows this kind of thing.
Information hygiene is a social trend. It makes users of social networks more demanding to the quality of content they consume, and Instagram meets this demand.
HOW TO SUCCEED IN INSTAGRAM PROMOTION
Perhaps the most important recipe here is unique and high-quality content. Quality photos, stylish layouts and informative texts aren’t a guarantee yet, but they’re already good insurance against the “Not Interested” marker.
Another growth area is the personal brand. People are more likely to respond to commercial content if the business owner is open to communication and sympathetic.