4 Instagram Tips to Help Outsmart Its New Algorithm


Instagram announced on Tuesday that the photo-sharing service will be changing the way posts appear in users' feeds. Following in the footsteps of Facebook and Twitter, posts will now be ordered algorithmically, instead of the reverse chronological format it historically used.

The move looks to address the fact that, on average, users miss 70% of the posts in their feeds, according to Instagram. Though startling at first, that number comes to make sense when considering the rate at which the platform has grown in recent years. As more users log on and post content, people continue to follow more and more accounts. It’s no surprise, then, that an incredible number of selfies and food pics fall by the wayside while individuals take a quick scroll through their feed.

The company will use the algorithm to prioritize content that users are most likely to be interested in, basing this arrangement off the relationship a user has with the account posting, the timeliness of the post and the user’s past likes. As the changes are rolled out, Instagram “is focusing on optimizing the order—all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”

TechCrunch reports that although Instagram is beginning by adjusting the sequence of posts, these changes may develop into a filtering system where less relevant posts are lost completely.

These changes could mean a fundamental reworking of how communicators engage with the platform. With the company beefing up its advertising offerings in recent months, this could be a move similar to the infamous Facebook algorithm change, which rendered branded organic content essentially obsolete.

But for now, there’s no need for PR pros to lose too much sleep. If communicators weren’t doing this already, the move is just a hefty push by the company to ensure that when brands post, they’re putting out content that its users are excited about and want to engage with.

If you’re still worried about your organization’s content being pushed aside by the new algorithm, check out PR News’ upcoming Social Media Workshop in Washington, D.C. on April 20. At this event, communicators will learn all the latest tricks to creating compelling content on Instagram.

Until then, Kristen Montalbano, director of digital publicity and media relations with National Geographic has a few content tips to help communicators create posts that live up to Instagram’s standards and can convert passive audiences into passionate fans.

Spotlight your followers

Invite users to share photos through a dedicated hashtag and repost the favorites to your followers. You get some great content while your fans receive recognition and visibility. Or take it one step further and kick off a contest or photo challenge.

Partner up

Consider ways of engaging like-minded influencers. Invite a group of Instagrammers to document one of your campaigns or events from their perspective. Send products out to influencers in your field. Find interesting and relevant ways to leverage the large followings influencers have been able to accumulate on the platform.

Go beyond the photo

Chances are you have old content that could use a refresh. Consider overlaying text to create memes or quotes that represent your brand. Use original artwork and video to create a sense of variety.

Go behind the scenes

Behind-the-scenes shots can give followers an inside look at your brand that they can’t get anywhere else, providing more reason to engage with you on Instagram and humanizing your brand in the process.

To get the latest on Instagram and everything else social media, join PR News for the Social Media Workshop in Washington D.C. on April 20. 

Follow Mark: @MarkRenfree