How Often Does Instagram Change Their Algorithm?
As an aspiring content creator or influencer on Instagram, you might think that the key to success on the platform lies in curating amazing content for your audiences. However, the truth is that it’s the platform’s algorithm that matters most. The Instagram algorithm can be defined as a combination of several factors that the platform takes into consideration to decide on the content to promote.
Quite simply, if your content ticks all the boxes according to the Instagram algorithm, it’s going to be promoted by the platform. However, if it fails to tick even a single box, it’s likely that your content will fade into oblivion.
Over the years, Instagram has changed its algorithm on multiple occasions. In this article, we’ll take you through the evolution of the Instagram algorithm and the changes that have come with it. Additionally, we’ll also shed some light on where it stands in 2022.
The early years (2010 – 2015)
It was back in 2010 when the world was introduced to Instagram. Back then, the app was an iPhone exclusive, and its purpose was simple – to allow users to add filters to photos and share the edited photos with their friends. Its introduction was stunning, and its download statistics skyrocketed within a matter of months. By June 2011, a whopping 5 million users had already downloaded the app, and by September 2011, the figure had doubled.
Following an update in September 2011, Instagram made its foray into the Android market in April 2012, and its success spiraled to even more dizzying heights. Later in the same month, it was acquired by Facebook in what was, back then, one of the most talked-about business deals. Not long after, in February 2013, it surpassed the 100-million-users milestone. Between 2013 and 2015, a slew of features was added to the platform, such as in-app advertisements and business tools – effectively transforming the platform into something much more than just a place to share photos.
In terms of the algorithm, the 2010 – 2015 period didn’t see much in terms of complexity. The algorithm simply showed posts in chronological order (newest – oldest), and that was that. Also, the lack of ads prior to 2013 didn’t require any major alteration to the algorithm in place. However, in 2016, the algorithmic changes came thick and fast.
Enter 2016: The Instagram algorithm gets more complex
The Instagram feed underwent a transformation in March 2016, and it wasn’t simply a design-oriented thing. Underneath the feed’s appearance, a complex algorithm was now at work, which had ditched the chronological display for ranking posts based on different factors. This was a necessary change, as the introduction of in-app ads back in 2013 made the Instagram landscape more competitive.
The most important factor for ranking posts was content relevance, i.e., users would be shown posts that were prioritized on the basis of how relevant they were based on their personal tastes and preferences. This major change didn’t go down well with many brands that had been using Instagram for marketing themselves. It meant that the content had to be top-notch, i.e., it had to engage users to do well.
In 2016, Instagram also introduced the Stories feature, which allowed users to share temporary photos and videos. The introduction of this feature came with the addition of another algorithm, which was created through Facebook-collected data, with engagement as its primary consideration for ranking Stories posts.
2017 – 2021: The algorithm undergoes subtle changes every year
The 2017 – 2021 period saw subtle changes to the Instagram algorithm. At its core, relevance and engagement remained the primary ranking factors. However, some other factors started to come into play, such as:
- The time spent by users on posts. Quite simply, a post that generated more watch time stood a better chance of ranking higher than its competitors.
- The level of connection between different pages. For instance, if your page and another page are connected regularly, you will see each other’s posts more regularly.
- Direct message (DM) sharing, i.e., posts that are being shared through DMs, are more likely to be ranked higher.
- Timeliness, i.e., how recent a post is. This factor is related to relevance and allows the algorithm to gauge how recently a post was shared.
- User’s search history, which determines the interest of an end-user based on accounts searched. In simple terms, a user that often searches for and visits a particular page will be shown posts based on interest.
So, the simple answer to the question ‘how often does Instagram change its algorithm’ is this – it changes the algorithm based on the features it adds. Additionally, the changes are aimed at making the Instagram experience better, not just for brands, content creators, and influencers but also for regular users consuming content on the platform. Now, it’s time to turn our attention to how the Instagram algorithm works in 2022.
The Instagram algorithm in 2022
The major change to have happened to the Instagram algorithm in 2022 involves the ability of end-users to switch between feed styles. Quite simply, users can now decide to revert to the earliest Instagram feed style if they want, i.e., chronological post display.
In terms of Stories posts and the feed, the algorithm ranks content based on a variety of information. Signals such as the user engagement generated by a post and its length (if it’s a video) are important for the algorithm to determine its popularity and relevance. Additionally, the algorithm also looks at the page that posted and how users have interacted with that page in the recent past. The users who have frequented the page and engaged with its previous Instagram posts are more likely to see future posts from the page before others. Overall user activity is assessed as well, which helps in understanding users’ personal content tastes.
The algorithm also affects the way the Explore tab works. When you use the Explore tab, Instagram shows you posts from pages that you aren’t aware of yet. But how does the platform know what posts to suggest? This happens through the algorithm’s understanding of your recent Explore tab activity, i.e., what kind of posts did you engage with through the tab? This information allows the algorithm to suggest similar content when you use the Explore tab in the future.
Even Reels is now driven by the algorithm. Unlike the feed and Stories posts, Reels posts may be suggested to audiences even if the pages posting them are unknown to the audiences. Users’ activity on Instagram, interaction history, and information about the Reels posts and the pages posting them are the key metrics that the algorithm takes into consideration to come up with suggestions.
Tips to be algorithm-friendly on Instagram
Being algorithm-friendly on Instagram requires your account to do certain things in certain ways. In this section, we’ll take you through all of them so you can earn more Instagram subscribers and, most importantly, keep growing on the platform.
Keep the Community Guidelines in mind
Instagram’s Community Guidelines consist of rules and regulations that all users should adhere to. For instance, posting content that’s controversial or offensive may get you noticed by a lot of users in the short term. However, doing so would result in the violation of the Community Guidelines, and the Instagram algorithm isn’t too kind towards accounts that violate the Guidelines. Typically, accounts flouting the Community Guidelines are severely restricted in terms of visibility. So, before you post anything sensitive, go through the Community Guidelines and make sure you aren’t flouting the rules.
Aim for organic engagement
Organic engagement refers to the engagement between your Instagram page and real users, i.e., living, breathing human beings. Nowadays, there are several services that provide engagement in the form of bot followers that increase comments, likes, and shares. It’s essential that you steer clear of these services, as bot-driven Instagram accounts are typically shadowbanned by Instagram. Instead, it’s better to choose a service like MrInsta, which provides free followers without any shadowbanning risks.
Include hashtags in every post
Hashtags play a very important role on Instagram in terms of making it easier for users to find content. That’s why, whenever you post something, include some hashtags in your caption, be it a regular post, a Reels post, a Stories post, or something else. While Instagram allows 30 hashtags to be included in a single post, our recommendation is to include a maximum of 8 – 10 hashtags. Also, before adding hashtags, educate yourself on banned hashtags, i.e., the hashtags that Instagram’s algorithm doesn’t want you to use. You’ll find plenty of resources about the subject online.
Create amazing content
Last but not least, it’s vital that your content on Instagram is full of quality. Without high-quality content, it’s difficult to make a mark on Instagram – even if you get the other things right. And if you’re just starting out on your Instagram journey, it’s best to go slow initially. Focus on quality, not on quantity. Once you know how you can curate content that engages your target audience, you can shift your attention to creating and posting content more frequently.
So, that’s about it for this article. Before we leave you, we’d like to tell you about the services of Mr. Insta, a software tool for budding Instagram creators and influencers to boost their numbers. You can use Mr. Insta to get free Instagram likes. Alternatively, you can buy Instagram views and impressions through Mr. Insta as well.
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