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Way to go! You’ve mentally ticked all boxes on that invisible Instagram post checklist and your content is locked, loaded and ready to go. Nothing has been left to chance. Striking image uploaded and perfectly sized? Check. Clever caption? Nailed it. Hashtags and tagging on point? Let’s just say Zuckerberg himself would be dazzled. Now all that’s left to do is click ‘post’ and watch thousands of likes, shares and views come streaming in, right?

Um… not so fast. Your work isn’t done quite yet. To get those feed posts, videos, stories and reels seen and engaged by the widest Instagram audience possible, you’ll first need to satisfy its naughty little algorithm that is always changing. Understanding how the Instagram algorithm works in 2022 presents endless possibilities for delivering click-worthy content with great organic traffic.

Instagram Algorithm’s Nuts and Bolts

The Instagram algorithm is a highly-sophisticated system that helps the social platform determine which content gets the top spot and which posts can be bumped down on a user’s news feed. For 24 hours a day, the algorithm behaves like a living organism, learning and making changes constantly in a bid to deliver relevant, meaningful content to app users.

Engagement is key when it comes to the Instagram algorithm. It measures one’s interests and behaviour (i.e. comments, tagging) to determine content interests. Thus more a user comments, likes, shares or follows a specific type of content, the more the algorithm “understands” their interests and “decides” the hierarchy of new content on their feed.

How Post/Contents Ranking Work

If like us, you’re clued up on the ‘Gram then you know that not all content that you see comes from the pages that you follow. And we’re not talking about re-grams and sharing.

Each time a person opens Instagram, its algorithm sorts through ALL available content on the app that is not protected by privacy settings. Yes, the entire app! It then creates a customised feed for that unique user based on their previous app activity.

The algorithm monitors what you see, like, give a thumbs down to, comment on and share in order to best serve up content it believes you will interact with the most. Though it might seem like Instagram is sneakily trying to hide content from users, its intention is actually the exact opposite. The algorithm is trying to deliver valuable experiences based on that which it considers relevant to you.

The Impact on Brands and Bottom Lines

Every Instagram user is affected by changes in its algorithm, especially brands. Here’s a scenario: you recently-post a brand video organically and it’s sitting at the top of a feed for 2000 of your followers. At the same time, it’s also sitting 15 posts below stale, days-old posts on the feeds of your remaining 3000 followers’. Why? So that your business can pay to have its posts promoted and seen by an audience tailored to its relevant demographic on the app. No spend, no views. No views, no engagement. No engagement, game over! We go deep into that in our blog Why Paid Media Needs A Place In Your Marketing Strategy.

How to Beat the IG Algorithm in 2022

Tricking the algorithm into working for you is possible and it can be done without any sneaky tactics. Here’s how you can beat what the algorithm prioritises so that your brand can reach more users and build a strong community of followers with high engagement.

Improve photo quality – the clearer and more visually striking posts are, the higher they rank
Publish Stories often – one-third of the most-viewed Stories come from brands. More views = more eyes that leads to higher reach
Include more video – Instagram favours video content. That’s why features like Reels and IGTV were introduced
Go Live – Instagram sends push notifications to your followers every time you go live and encourages them to tune in
Get caption clever – Shorter captions encourage engagement, especially in question format. Make use of tagging and @mentions so that your content is shared more
Hashtag, hashtag, hashtag – it’s the fastest way to get content seen. Using hashtags as part of your content strategy makes your brand posts searchable and appear in the feeds of that hashtag’s subscribers, even if they don’t follow you
Share original content without watermarks. Sorry TikTokers.
Tailor your posts for Instagram SEO – use relevant, highly-searched keywords in captions

A lot of changes are in store for Instagram in 2022. Bringing back chronologically-ordered feed options after years of user outcry is one of them. #CantWait.

Any CEO will tell you: adapting to change and staying up to speed with how content behaves on Instagram is a step towards success. The second step is working alongside a trusted creative partner that understands how to guide your social media strategy in a results-driven direction. Get in touch with us today to chat a little about how Coffee Creative Studio can support your brand’s growth on social media. We’re here to help ☺

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