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Making sense of the Instagram algorithm11 Aug 2021

It can feel like a bit of a minefield, choosing to start posting to a social media platform, but unsure how to post in a way that gets you seen by the largest amount of people in the audience that you’re trying to reach, especially when it comes to the Instagram algorithm. Information is usually gained through the trial and error of marketers, with social media companies keeping exactly how their apps work under wraps. This has all changed now though, with Instagram’s people being much more forthcoming about how the Instagram algorithm works in light of recent changes.

So what’s changed?

Back in the good old days of 2016, the majority of Instagram users were only seeing posts that were targeted towards them, rather than posts from people they were most interested in, or people they interact with.

Now, the algorithm takes into account several factors:

  • Information about the post
  • Information about the person who posted
  • Your activity
  • Your history of interaction with the person posting

Let’s look into each of these in a little more detail.

Information about the post

This means how popular a post is through likes, comments and shares as well as information about the content itself, like if it’s a video, how long it is, when it was posted, and location of the post (if there was one).

Information about the person who posted

This relates to how interesting the person might be for you, sees how well it matches with what you’re already looking at, and includes factors like how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks.

Your activity

This reads what you might be interested in, and includes factors such as how many posts from that kind of poster you’ve liked. The benefit of this, is seeing more posts about what you like.

Your history of interacting with someone

This part of the Instagram algorithm gives them an idea of how interested you are in seeing posts from a particular account, for example, whether you like or comment regularly on that account’s posts.

How can you use this information about the Instagram algorithm to your advantage?

Firstly, building up a regular following of people who like and engage with your posts will help boost your content in terms of how likely it is to be seen. It’ll also put you in a greater standing to be seen on people’s new suggested reels! This means that focusing on engagement, rather than building follower numbers is a great idea to help you in the long run. 

How to increase engagement

Fresh, interesting, and relevant content

That’s right. It may sound obvious, but for people to engage they need to be interested in the content that you’re posting. On Instagram especially, it’s important to be using eye catching visuals to get people to stop, and then provide them with value to give them a reason to like. Whether that’s a carousel of dreamy property photos to look through, some tips for first time buyers beginning their search, or what to think about before purchasing a property to renovate.

Posting consistency

You want to make sure that your posting is consistent, too. Regular posts will help keep you in both the Instagram feeds, and the minds, of those who interact with you. To make it easy for yourself, you could post the same content on the same day: for example a featured property on a Wednesday, a top tip for maintenance on a Thursday, and an office dog pic on a Friday.

Related: How to generate social post ideas >>

Engaging with others

You can’t sit back and wait for people to come and talk to you all the time. That doesn’t work with making friends with the real world, and it doesn’t translate to social media either. Search for hashtags that are relevant for your brand, and like and/or comment on other posts. (But make sure the comments are relevant, writing a one word comment and then leaving is very obvious!) This will help you boost your interactivity (increasing your chances of being shown on others’ feeds) and will also hopefully have the side effect of bringing you new followers.

Instagram reels

There’s also a fairly recent function called ‘reels’ which follows the same Instagram algorithm rules. This shows people ‘TikTok style’ videos that they might interesting based on the four criteria above. This is a great opportunity to leverage hashtags and get more eyes on your account.

Related: Why every Estate Agent should be using Instagram Reels >>

The reason Instagram is telling us all this, is because they’re committed to making the way it works easier to understand and more transparent to its users. If you want to delve into it all a bit deeper, then we recommend heading over to Instagram’s blog where you can learn more about it. 

Katie is a Freelance Copywriter living in rural Dorset with her daft old Labrador. She first started writing content for the property industry back in 2015, and loves nothing more than bringing brand voices to life!

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