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Ranking on Instagram: how the algorithms of the popular social network work

Back in 2016, the ranking on Instagram has undergone significant changes. Since then, the feed has not displayed content in chronological order, but in accordance with the algorithms of the social network itself. Despite the elapsed time since this update, the problem of understanding ranking algorithms is still relevant.

This issue is especially important when promoting an account. In this article, we will tell you what are the factors that influence the display of posts, how to use them for promotion, and also talk about which methods have lost their effectiveness.

Tasks of the smart feed on Instagram

Why were Instagram algorithms developed at all? There are several reasons :

  • With their help, content that is really interesting to users gets large reach and vice versa – weak content is not shown.

  • The company is thus trying to make money on users who are working to promote their own account. If a person / business account drops in reach, one of the options to increase it is to pay to promote posts. The point is, high reach, likes, user engagement, and sales are all interrelated things. No good reach, no sales. Therefore, entrepreneurs have to pay for subscribers to see their content.

Задачи умной ленты в Инстаграме
Tasks of the smart feed on Instagram

By the way, this is why a huge number of specialists appeared on the expanses of the social network. offer services to bring your account to the TOP, but you shouldn’t believe that someone can actually do it.

The fact is that according to the laws of Instagram, each user has his own TOP, which is formed on the basis of his personal preferences. It depends on what content the person is viewing, whose profiles they visit, where they like and write comments, how much time they spend in the application, etc. That is, there is no single TOP for everyone. This also applies to social network searches and the Recommended section.

3 main Instagram ranking factors

Ranking on Instagram is powered by artificial intelligence, and it is interesting that users with the same subscriptions will have completely different feeds, because their behavior on the web is different.

Instagram representatives talk about three priority ranking factors :

  1. interest (interest);

  2. recency (new);

  3. relationship.

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Although there are other factors that affect the formation of users’ feed.

  1. Interest

    A special machine vision technology allows the application to track what content the user likes the most, what he lingers on, who he likes, and which post he just scrolls through. Instagram can recognize photos, hashtags, words.

    If you are interested in fashion, subscribe to fashion bloggers, systematically view their profiles, like, read and write comments, the social network will offer you similar content.

  2. Newness

    Although the priority of Instagram algorithms is the interest of users, chronology also matters. That is, posts are sorted mainly according to preferences, and then – by publication date.

  3. Relationships

    First of all, Instagram will show the user the posts of those people he likes more than others. Again, the algorithm will determine this based on likes, views, comments, etc.

Additional Instagram Ranking Factors

The ranking of the Instagram feed is also based on a number of secondary points.

  • Frequency

    In this case, we do not mean the frequency of posting, but the frequency of using the application. The social network will offer the user the most interesting content that appeared at the time until he appeared in the application.

    Периодичность
    Periodicity

    Let’s say a person visits Instagram once every 2-3 hours, which means that the algorithm will offer him posts that went beyond this time. The situation is similar with less frequent traffic: when entering once a day, the social network will show the user the publications that have appeared in the last 24 hours. Moreover, this will not be all the content, but the one that interests him the most.

  • Subscriptions

    Even if a person is subscribed to many accounts, this does not mean that he will be able to see posts from each of them in his feed. If some profile is not visited by the user at all, his photos are not liked, etc., the algorithm will simply hide the posts of this account, although it will not go anywhere from the subscriptions. Accordingly, if you want to see content from specific people at the top of your feed, you need to be active in their accounts, that is, at least constantly put likes under the posts.

  • Usage

    Ranking on Instagram also occurs depending on the period that the user spends in the application. The less time he spends on the web, the more emphasis it places on the best publications. As the time increases, the set of displayed posts also gets wider.

Ranking Stories, IGTV & Recommendations

Now let’s analyze the peculiarities of the algorithm in Stories, IGTV, in the “Recommendations” or “Explore page” tab

  • Instagram Stories

    The algorithm works with stories in the same way as with posts: first of all, the user will see the stories of those profiles that Instagram found most interesting to him. It also takes into account likes, comments, reposts, etc.

    However, for stories, relevance is also of great importance, that is, regular and frequent posting. Therefore, profiles may appear in the TOP, which at first glance are not the most beloved, but they post a lot of fresh stories.

    The user’s reaction to the stories themselves plays an important role – the more active it is, the more often the profile will appear in the feed. That is why bloggers so often post various polls, polls, sliders on various topics and other Instagram chips in their stories, ask to leave reactions – this helps them to increase their reach.

  • IGTV

    IGTV is not as popular as the company intended, but it still exists today and many people use this feature. At the moment, the algorithms for issuing videos on Instagram TV are not completely clear, but there is an assumption that they intersect with the ranking features in the feed. The platform showcases videos based on user interests. In addition, you can watch popular videos in a separate tab.

  • Recommendations Tab

    The “Recommendations” tab operates according to its own algorithms, but they are very similar to the standard application algorithms. Instagram tries to make this section unique for each user, it should be filled with content that is relevant and truly interesting to each individual user.

    The algorithm is quite sensitive to a person’s reactions to posts, in the recommended one it gives out posts similar to those that the user likes and comments most often.

    The “Recommendations” tab now also contains thematic channels. They are worth paying attention to: it is likely that in the future it will be possible to put special tags that will help index content in these channels.

Myths about Instagram ranking

There are a lot of myths circulating on the network regarding how the ranking of an Instagram feed is carried out. We will refute the most popular.

  • The system is indifferent to the nature of the account – commercial or personal. The algorithms do not depend on this.

  • You cannot ensure yourself good coverage just by regularly publishing stories and broadcasting live broadcasts. It is imperative that the audience also be active.

  • Timeline is not a priority in ranking posts, however, work is constantly underway to improve Instagram algorithms.

  • The social network does not hide posts, it is engaged in sorting them. That is, if you wish, you can see the publications of all accounts to which you are subscribed in your feed. However, this will take a long time to scroll.

  • If posts are posted too often on your account, they will not be hidden from subscribers, but the system will not display them in a row, but will dilute them with other publications.

  • There is no shadow ban.

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4 nuances of promoting on Instagram, taking into account the ranking rules

In order to successfully develop your Instagram account, you must follow a number of principles.

  1. It is necessary to correctly define the target audience

    Above, we wrote that posts of those accounts that they like more than others appear in the feeds of Instagram users. Therefore, it is important to attract subscribers to your page who will really be interested in the content. It is necessary to determine their age, gender, place of residence and other parameters in order to act purposefully.

    At the same time, it is not so easy to single out a certain category of users, this is a rather complicated and time-consuming business. However, there are automated services that are aimed at collecting information on their own in a social network, for example, Zengram. This program selects an audience using a parser for three parameters :

    After collecting information, Zengram creates a database that you can use in your work.

    Of course, it’s important not only to find your audience, but also to regularly deliver quality content that will resonate with people.

  2. It is important to constantly persuade subscribers to be active

    It is necessary to encourage subscribers to be active on the page: put likes, write comments, make reposts, react to stories. Only in the case of their real and constant interaction with the account, the ranking on Instagram will be carried out in the right way.

    And if likes can only be achieved with truly high-quality posts, then activity in stories or comments can be organized in various ways: arrange polls, ask the opinion of subscribers on a particular topic, etc.

    Psychological triggers in social networks:

    Has a positive effect on ranking and communication with subscribers in the direct. You can also comment on the posts of your readers and put likes under them. If there are a lot of them, it is better to “entrust” all these actions to Zengram, who will perform them automatically using pre-created templates.

    A blogger or businessman needs to create conditions for long-term presence of subscribers in his account. To do this, you can offer an interesting discussion under the post, place a poll or a sticker with a vote in the story, and correctly plan the stories themselves – so that users constantly return to the previously viewed ones to clarify some information.

    In addition, you can activate the work with the video channel: post videos and conduct live broadcasts. All these manipulations take more time from readers than, for example, scrolling the feed.

  3. Sort potential subscribers

    When attracting new readers, you should target those people who do not have a huge number of subscriptions, in which it is easy to get lost and lose coverage. Here again Zengram will come to the rescue.

  4. It’s important to post regularly

    It is advisable to post on a daily basis. Thanks to this, you can increase your chances of showing your publications to users, even those who rarely visit Instagram.

    Even if the intricacies of the algorithms seem somewhat complicated at first, over time you can easily get involved in the process of working with them and follow the basic instructions already on the machine.

Risks of Mass Liking and Mass Following for an Account

It is important for business accounts to constantly be in the feed of their subscribers, for this they regularly generate useful content, try to involve people in communication, provoke them to be active. It is also important to attract readers with a small number of subscriptions (100-200) and clean up your own subscribers, excluding from the list of obvious mass followers that can spoil your account statistics.

Mass Followers are users who massively subscribe to various accounts in order to attract attention or “have nothing to do”. The number of their subscriptions can go up to 6,000 and more. As a rule, these are pages of stores, salons, as well as bots. True, sometimes an ordinary person who has nothing to do with business can also engage in mass following – he just subscribes to absolutely everyone, but at the same time does not follow anyone.

Even despite the likes that mass followers can give to you, it is incredibly difficult to get into their feed – the competition is too great. Naturally, such people harm accounts that seek to develop, contributing to a decrease in coverage. Therefore, they should be removed.

Knowledge of Instagram algorithms is today a prerequisite for the successful promotion of your own blog or business account, so it is important to master them and constantly rely on this knowledge in your daily activities.

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