The monumental shift from displaying posts in chronological order to an algorithm that favours ‘relevance’ makes Instagram a tough nut to crack, especially for small businesses. If you’ve recently started a new company and are looking at growing your Instagram reach and followership, we have some tips that will help you make the most of the infamous Instagram algorithm.

But first, it’s crucial to explain the algorithm change and why this was such a monumental change.


What is Instagram’s new algorithm? 

Historically, Instagram displayed posts in chronological order and with the algorithm switch, it changed to showing posts based on relevance. The change means that brands and individual users can’t just post at a particular time and trust that their followers will see the post. Instagram prioritises posts based on the following metrics:

  • User relationship: the more you interact with certain users, it becomes more likely that their posts get prioritised on your feed.
  • User interests: this refers to the accounts and content that the user interacts with. Users who interact with accounts similar to yours are more likely to see your content on the explore page.
  • Recent posts are favoured: the latest posts are more likely to be pushed up to the top of your feed.

The switch to this algorithm that favours engagement means that brands have to work extra hard to, not just perfect their content, but to engage with their audience. Bigger businesses can afford to pay to boost their posts, smaller businesses who depend on organic engagement need to do a bit more to gain followers and see a return on the platform.


5 ways to make the Instagram algorithm work for you:

Form relationships, don’t just focus on reach:

Social media, at its core, is about forming connections and the algorithm favours engagement among users. The algorithm cares about relationships and will prioritise content from accounts you frequently engage with. Engage with your audience; ask and answer questions, reply to comments and be engaged with the people who follow you. Comment and engage with posts from relevant brands, and respond to comments and DM’s.  

Repurpose old content:

Retrospectively check what your best performing content is and repurpose that to get more engagement. Upcycling and repurposing your older content will save you time, with the added benefit that you already know tour audience likes the content.

Be consistent: 

Showing up consistently on Instagram, whether it be on Instagram Stories or the feed is very important because it keeps your brand at the forefront of the customer’s minds.

Repost your followers content: 

Incentivising your audience for engaging is always a good idea; you create content organically and boost engagement. Ask your customers to post the product that they purchased from you, then repost it. It drives engagement and creates content.

Post at the right time

Yes. Posting at the right time still matters. The algorithm favours recent posts and posting when the majority of your audience is online is very valuable. Study your audience’s Instagram habits to get a sense of the timeframes that they are online and post at the most opportune times.

Growing your social media following takes patience, but if you remember the reason your business has social media platforms, the algorithm will make more sense. The more you engage with your audience, the more your audience will get shown your posts and vice-versa – which is the main objective of social media, not to sell products, but to form meaningful connections.