By Charlotte Richter
In 2019, Instagram switched from reverse-chronological feeds to an algorithmic feed, meaning the platform prioritizes content it thinks users will like by acknowledging the time and engagement happening on specific posts or accounts.
The content that appears at the top of a user’s feed is from what Instagram calls “friends and family;” with the new algorithm people supposedly see 40% more of those posts than with the reverse-chronological feed. For users, it meant they started seeing content more relevant to themselves, but it also caused a huge drop in engagement for business and influencers.
Here’s how to get back on the feed as a business and stay at the top:
Know where you stand. First, if you are trying to reach consumers, you’ll need to track the metrics that matter. To do this, make sure that your account is a business account. This allows you to be searched more exclusively, promote posts, and most importantly track demographics and engagement. With business account insights, you’ll have access to the numbers:
- Profile Visits
- Post/Story engagement
This will help you curate content to your audience, and understand the best time to find them; by reaching users when they are active, you’ll be in their feed, increasing engagement and therefore your overall existence as that user’s “friends and family.”
Organize and plan your posts. Based on interviews and experience, we know Instagram likes diversity in its user’s feed and anything that could make a post more accessible in a search. We also know that the algorithm equates high engagement to high quality, and high-quality posts appear first. Once you’ve nailed your content, it’s worth knowing that consistency is key when it comes to posting. Humans are habitual, so you can maintain audience engagement by breaking up posts across a week or a month and posting consistently at the same time for the duration of a social media campaign. It can be difficult to do this manually, and often time businesses have multiple accounts. Programs such as Sprout Social, Hootsuite and Later can manage posts, publish automatically, and track insights past the data available in Instagram’s insights.
While consistency is key, it is essential that your posts are high quality, including good captions, tags and locations whenever possible because more detail signals real people are working behind the account. Scheduling a base is not a problem if you supplement with good organic content with the above information, so the algorithm knows you are not scheduling 100% of your material.
Avoid the algorithm altogether. Instagram Stories, Instagram Live Stories, and IGTV are the least affected by the algorithm because these features do not exist exclusively in a user’s feed. Respectively these features rest at the top of a user’s feed, are in a user’s feed as they scroll, and often have notifications. Recently they’ve been recognized as a commonplace for “catching up” on information; Instagram’s stories have over 500 million viewers daily.
According to Insivia, in 2018 “Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined, on top of the added ability to engage through a poll, slider and dm stickers, comments, links and tags. Instagram doesn’t favor videos in a feed, but video is known to be more attractive given the young, selective demographic it serves, which is part of the reason Stories and IGTV are so successful. A user doesn’t have to have to scroll to view a story, and the length of the videos have a limit that stands within the average 8-second attention span of people today. You and your business are in without having to fight for the first spot on the feed.