SocialSocial MediaHow brands can make the most of Instagram’s new algorithm

How brands can make the most of Instagram's new algorithm

Will Instagram’s new algorithm mean the death of organic reach for your brand? Not necessarily. Here’s how you use the update to your advantage.

Will Instagram’s new algorithm mean the death of organic reach for your brand? Not necessarily. Here’s how you use the update to your advantage.

When Instagram announced it would begin using an algorithm to power feeds, it caused quite an uproar. Some predicted the death of brands on Instagram and as of Wednesday afternoon, a petition calling to “Keep Instagram Chronological” has amassed more than 330,000 signatures.

It’s easy to understand why people and brands are so upset. Few enjoy the idea of change – even though we all accept and forget about it almost immediately – and history has proven that social media algorithms cost brands organic reach, leading to the need for paid spend.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really matter what you or I or some other 330,000+ people think.

Instagram will release the algorithm for several reasons:

  1. As usage grows, feeds are getting cluttered and overall engagement is dropping.
  2. It’s a business and needs to monetize its service.
  3. Instagram knows what we’ll find interesting, better than we do.
  4. Quite frankly, the platform can do whatever it wants because the majority of people will keep using it.

Rather than spend energy lamenting the change, let’s explore how brands can use the forthcoming algorithm to their advantage.

Currently, we know very little about the factors that will impact the algorithm. All Instagram has stated is:

The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.

It sounds an awful lot like EdgeRank, Facebook’s original algorithm, which was a combination of engagement metrics, time decay and affinity.

Facebook EdgeRank

Instagram’s algorithm will likely evolve and grow to include other factors just as Facebook’s did, but at the start, we know a few things for sure based on experience optimizing posts on other social networks.

Here are the key things your brand needs to consider to take advantage of Instagram’s forthcoming algorithm:

Quality over quantity

Engagement will be tantamount on the new Instagram. That means your content must be good enough, strong enough and interesting enough to stand out and get likes and comments.

Knowing who your audience is will help you to understand what it’ll find interesting and thus, what type of images you should post.

Relationships matter even more

If the Instagram algorithm is anything like EdgeRank, affinity and mutual connections will be extremely important, meaning two things. First, the more often users engage with you, the more likely they are to see your images in their feed. The second one is, if two users follow each other and follow your brand, both users will be more likely to see your images when the other engages.

Therefore, building stronger relationships through increased engagement will increase likelihood of your followers seeing all posts.

Building relationships with other brands and personalities on Instagram will also be important. Working with popular, authoritative and relevant Instagram profiles can help you grow your affinity rating and reach new audiences.

Kayla Itsines Instagram

Kayla Itsines was recently listed as one of Time‘s 30 Most Influential People on the Internet, due to her Instagram following.

Timing is everything

Again, taking a cue from Facebook’s early-days newsfeed optimization playbook, well-timed posts will offer a significant boost in reach and awareness. There will likely be a time-decay on posts, meaning the more recent it is, the higher it will rank in feeds.

However, it could be about more than recency. Posting during the days and times your audience engages most often, and aligning your posts with topics that are currently trending could also impact reach in a positive way.

Paying for enhanced play

Organic reach is sure to drop, as we’ve all experienced with Facebook over the last few years. This means that paid advertising must become part of your Instagram strategy.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that the integration of Instagram ads within Facebook’s ad manager platform makes managing campaigns and reaching qualified audiences easier and more effective.

Like any worthwhile marketing initiative, the right balance of owned, earned and paid media tactics will be required to be successful on the new algorithmic Instagram.


For those with strong and strategic focus on Instagram, this algorithm shouldn’t change your approach drastically. Quality content, relationship building, proper timing and a balanced media mix have always been essential.

The new algorithm may require a keener focus and more precise planning. So get started now before the change happens in the “coming months.”


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