Instagram Algorithm 2022. Survival kit
1.21 billion monthly active users make Instagram an undeniable powerhouse with a remarkable ability to surface new trends and be the hotbed for the next big cultural phenomenon. The changes come amid growing user frustration over a series of updates in Instagram designed to help it better compete with TikTok and navigate the broader shift toward watching more video. So, this time next year, will Instagram be solely a video and shopping app, full of dancing creators and celebrities flogging merchandise but devoid of artists and designers sharing their latest work? Whatever happens next, it’s clear that Instagram isn’t the app it used to be.
The Instagram feed algorithm has changed a lot over the last five years, pivoting to a model that favors interest. Click on IG today and you will still see plenty of photos, but you’ll also be confronted with a carousel of short, vertical videos known as “Reels”, as well as the more-than-occasional ad. Citing TikTok and YouTube as competition, the head of IG Adam Mosseri is leaning into the trend by embracing video and bringing in radical changes focusing on Reels and explore page.
After a week of mounting criticism, Instagram announced that it will walk back some recent changes to the product. A test version of the app that opened to full-screen photos and videos will be phased out over the next two weeks, reducing the number of recommended posts in the app. Although the trend toward users watching more video is real, it’s clear that people actually do dislike Instagram’s design changes.
“I’m glad we took a risk — if we’re not failing every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough,” said Mosseri. “But we definitely need to take a big step back and regroup. When we’ve learned a lot, then we come back with some sort of new idea or iteration. So we’re going to work through that.”
Let’s sort out the rules of the new algorithm?
It takes into consideration the likelihood of five main interactions when deciding how to rank a post on someone’s Home feed. These are:
– Time spent: Are you going to spend time on the post?
– Likes: How likely are you to like the post?
– Comments: How likely are you to comment on the post?
– Saves: How likely are you to save the post?
– Taps on Profile: How likely are you to tap on the profile after seeing the post?
“The more likely you are to take an action, and the more heavily we weigh that action, the higher up you’ll see the post,” says Adam Mosseri. Engagement is key, especially when it comes to the Instagram algorithm. It considers how likely you are to comment, like, save, spend time, or tap on a profile.
In 2019, feed posts were the cool kids on the block. But now, it’s all about Instagram Reels. In fact, the average engagement rate for feed posts (excluding Reels and IGTV) has decreased by 44% since 2019. It’s no secret that Reels are a priority for the app, and as such, other post types have taken a back seat. Adam Mosseri recently revealed that all video posts would become Instagram Reels: “While the app will continue to support photos, more and more of Instagram is going to become video, over time.”
With fierce competition from both TikTok and YouTube, Instagram has been prioritizing Reels to stay top-of-mind. For those who have pivoted to Reels, engagement rates have remained consistent — or, even better, seen positive growth. The Later, for example, has seen a 500%+ increase in their engagement rate since embracing Reels as part of Instagram strategy. In 2019, Later’s average engagement rate was 1.28%. Now, in 2022, it’s 9.09%.
The numbers don’t lie. While regular feed posts still have their place on Instagram, Reels are now the number one tactic for reaching new audiences. Of course, IG strategies include more than just Reels, but they’ve clearly been a huge catalyst for reach and engagement.
What about creatives?
“I think one of the most important things is that we help new talent find an audience. I care a lot about large creators; I would like to do better than we have historically by smaller creators”. – said Mosseri.
The now infamous Insta-algorithm has been the cause of widespread frustration amongst creatives using the app to showcase their work. Photographers, artists and designers alike have reluctantly sacrificed their artistic integrity to grovel at the feet of the mighty algorithm. They have chosen to post ‘safe’ content in an attempt to ensure their profile is exposed to, at a minimum, their followers, and—if they’re lucky enough—new audiences. For someone new video approach is time-consuming, has a steeper learning curve and can be a challenge for those who are self-conscious in front of the camera.
This shift towards TikTok-type videos and shopping could leave artists looking for a new home online. Mosseri recently addressed their concerns, so maybe it’s time to rethink your content strategy in 2022. Or if you’re considering a migration from Instagram, take a fresh look at these tried-and-tested alternatives:
Reddit is home to supportive communities that would struggle to exist in the superficial terrain of other social media landscapes. ‘Subs’ have naturally developed with a focus on self-improvement, not self-promotion and collaborative learning, not competition. One such sub is a space for users to share their work, or often work-in-progress, and receive feedback from other artists.
Live streaming on Twitch invites followers to view the entire process, and that means revealing the imperfections and mishaps too! The creator also benefits from a live audience: where creating can often be a solitary process, streaming provides company. For successful, consistent streamers there is the opportunity to monetise a channel with paid ads. Twitch is still largely dominated by gaming content, but interest in the platform from other industries is rapidly increasing.
Glass operates on a paid subscription, meaning the entire in-app community is invested in the growth and integrity of the platform. Users can still show appreciation for others’ work, but only the creator themselves are notified. The lack of public performance indicators tempers any obsession with popularity and encourages the sharing of authentic content that is true to the creator not the public—or an algorithm. All posts on Glass are displayed chronologically.
To find refuge from the influence of likes, votes and shares! On Discord you can talk uninhibitedly by the pressure of social media performance. The ability to talk ‘face-to-face’ allows for deeper intra-community connection. In Discord it is much easier to find like-minded individuals with whom you can explore your passions.
Any tips for those who want to get on board with the new algorithm?
Consistently Share Instagram Reels
They are still being heavily promoted by Instagram across the entire app experience. Plus, Reels get twice as much real-estate in the Instagram Explore page – making them a major tactic for discovery and growth.
Encourage More Interactions with Instagram Stories Stickers
Instagram Stories stickers are a great way to encourage audience engagement — and the more engagement your posts get, the higher they’ll be boosted by the Instagram algorithm. There are lots of Instagram stickers, but the best ones for driving engagement are the poll, emoji slider, and question stickers.
Drive Conversations with Engaging Captions and Comments
Instagram has confirmed comments and likes are important when it comes to feed ranking — so it’s a great idea to encourage as many as possible for your posts. This could be as simple as asking your followers to share their thoughts, double-tap if they agree, tag a friend in the comments, or click the link in your bio.
Add Hashtags and Keywords to Your Posts
Is an effective way to reach more people on Instagram, which means more “views” for the Instagram algorithm to take into account. And with a good hashtag and keyword strategy, you won’t just reach more people — you’ll reach people who are relevant to your business, and most likely to engage with your content.
Cross-promote Your Instagram Content
As IG has grown, so too has the number of channels that you can share content: feed, stories, Guides, and Instagram Reels. Instagram Collabs feed posts (with co-shared authorship) are also an incredible new way to reach new audiences. This could be as simple as sharing an enticing preview of a Reel to your feed, or even adding a feed post to Instagram Stories with a “Tap Here” GIF.
Use Instagram Analytics to See What’s Working
Having a better understanding of what’s working (and what isn’t) will help you come up with a finely tuned marketing plan, saving you time and effort in the long run. But diving into your Instagram Analytics means more than just finding out which photo, video, or stories performed best.
So why can’t Instagram stay focused on photos forever? Is the big shift to video something that Instagram itself caused by putting its thumb on the algorithmic scale? As always, it’s all about experimentation, and seeing how the update shifts the needle in the app over time.