TL;DR: We’re breaking down the Instagram algorithm and sharing the secrets to maximizing growth. Yes, it’s a long post, but a necessary one for every budding creator and influencer. So, take the time to read it.

Why do some posts get more views than others? How does the Instagram algorithm really work? These are questions every creator wants answered. So, we’re spilling the secrets to hacking the Instagram algorithm and increasing reach and engagement.

The updates to the Instagram algorithm in 2022

This year, Instagram introduced a lot of changes to its algorithm.

  • The home feed now has 2 views: following and favourite. As a user, this update means you get a more customised experience on the app. As a creator, this update means the algorithm will suggest less content to someone who selects the following view.
  • The default view of the feed shows more suggested content, especially Reels.
  • The Instagram algorithm is now better at categorising content. It means it can tell what a video or image is about using the content and keywords attached. 

Before you worry, hashtags don’t play a crucial role here. They are still primarily needed to show your content on the Instagram search page.  

The most important Instagram algorithm update for creators

Of the many changes Instagram has made to its ranking algorithms in 2022, the most promising is “ranking for originality. The update gives a boost to the original content. So, if you’ve made content from scratch, then it’s more likely to get views as compared to a simple repost.

Essentially, the app now favours creators. So, the easiest answer to how to hack the Instagram algorithm in 2022 is to create more original content. Besides it, enhanced tags are two more updates that can help maximise your reach and engagement.

Enhanced tags make sure you get credit for your content by letting you create a category. Go to your profile > edit section and add a category. Next time you are tagged in a photo or a video, it will pop up. 

As Instagram says, “If you’re a make-up artist, songwriter or other significant collaborator on a post, your contributions will be more visible in the post or Reel.”

How does the Instagram algorithm impact your reach?

First #thngs first. 

Instagram doesn’t have 1 algorithm. It has many, and each one of them determines what people see (or don’t) on the app. 

So there’s an Instagram algorithm for posts (read: your feed), there’s an algorithm for the Explore page, and there’s an Instagram algorithm for Reels. Each of the factors in different #thngs and then ranks which content shows up on top.

As a creator, all you need to understand is that by knowing how the Instagram algorithm works and what it takes into account, you can increase the reach of your content. So, let’s get to it.

Instagram algorithm for posts and how it works in 2022

With the latest update, the Instagram feed has 3 incarnations. The default one, the following one, and the favourites. The algorithms for Favourites and Following are simple. You see posts from people you follow or have marked as favourites. Creators can’t do much with it. So, we keep the focus on the default feed.

 

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The Instagram algorithm considers these when deciding which content to rank first in someone’s feed:

  • First, it takes a look at all the recent posts shared by the people a user follows
  • Then, it takes a look at the information available for:
    • the posts like the time the post was shared, is the content about baking or travel, how long is it, and does it have a location tag, if yes, then which?
    • the handle which posted the content, like are they a friend, do they post often, how many times people have interacted with the handle, etc.
    • the user’s preferences, like do they watch a lot of videos or prefer images,
    • the user’s history like the number of interactions they’ve made with the handle, have they commented on a post shared by the handle, etc.

Called signals, the Instagram algorithm takes each of them into account (FYI, there are dozens of these) to make an educated guess on what content a person would like to see first on their feed.

How do you hack the Instagram algorithm for the feed 2022?

For a creator, the secret of the Instagram algorithm for feed posts is this: you have to get your community to spend more time on your content. Why? Because IG gives these 5 interactions the most weight when ranking content on the feed:

  • Do people spend a few seconds on a post?
  • Do they comment on it?
  • Do they like it?
  • Do they save it?
  • Do they tap on the profile photo?

Get your followers to perform these actions and your content will start to show up first.

Instagram algorithm for Stories and how it works in 2022?

The Instagram algorithm for Stories is very similar to Feed, and it considers all the same #thngs with one exception. On Stories, people want to see content from their family and close friends first. So, those will always show up right at the front, followed by all others.

So, how do you hack the Instagram algorithm for Stories?

Get your followers (and others) to interact and engage with your Instagram Stories. Click that link. It has excellent tips on how to drive engagement.

Instagram algorithm for Reels and how it works in 2022?

The Instagram algorithm for Reels is very similar to Explore and very different from Feed and Stories. With Reels and Explore, the app tries to show people content from accounts they do not follow.  

It uses “collaborative filtering” to judge whether a person will be interested in a particular Reel or not. What’s collaborative filtering? It’s essentially a user’s activity, like:

  • What posts have they liked in the past?
  • What Reels they’ve commented on?
  • Or have engaged with recently?

There are other #thngs IG takes into account when ranking content on Reels or Explore:

  • Info on the reel like how long it is, when it was posted, is it popular, what audio it uses, etc.
  • Info on the account who posted the Reels, like do people watch their content.
So, what’s the hack to the Instagram algorithm for Reels?

Frankly, it’s to be entertaining. Instagram’s algorithm prioritises Reels that are funny or entertain people. Besides that, try not to make Reels:

  • That have low resolution.
  • Watermarked with the logo of another app.
  • Related to politics, hate speech, or violence.

All 3 of them are against the community guidelines of the app.

6 tips on how to break the Instagram algorithm in 2022

Now that we’ve broken down the many algorithms of Instagram, we get to the good stuff. How do you improve the ranking of your content and get more likes, shares, comments, yadda, yadda?

The most obvious solution is, of course, engaging better with your audience, producing content that drives likes, saves, shares, and comments, and being consistent

But how else can you improve your ranking in the IG algorithm? We’ve got 6 hacks for you!

Secrets of Instagram algorithm # 1: Be super engaging in your Stories 

Instagram has seen a massive rise in engagement with stories. People love doing quizzes, answering polls, dropping questions and more on Stories! So, it is time to use this high engagement feature to your advantage. 

  • Upload stories throughout the day. Doing it at one point of the day does no good, as your story might get lost in the myriad of people your followers follow. 
  • When you are uploading these stories, encourage the audience to interact with them. Use the poll stickers, the drop a question sticker, and the quiz sticker to make your audience notice and interact with your content. 
  • For example, if it is an outfit story, you can always ask your audience to rate the fit with the emoji slider sticker. 

Secrets of Instagram algorithm # 2: Kill it with your hashtag strategy

Hashtags are a foolproof way to reach new audiences. They also help you find the kind of audience that is more likely to enjoy your content and engage with it. 

  • Optimise your hashtag strategy by using the right kinds of tags. 
  • Generic hashtags won’t be of much help, as with them your content might get lost in the millions of posts already present. 
  • Use specific hashtags and don’t bombard your post with a million hashtags. 30 hashtags on a post have been observed to have the highest level of engagement. Use them wisely and with relevance. 
  • Try the “Suggest Hashtag” feature to get the right ones. All you have to do is simply enter a relevant hashtag and click on the suggested tags. 

Secrets of Instagram algorithm # 3: Post Reels as much as you can

It is no secret that Instagram heavily promotes and pushes Reels content. Producing and sharing Reels has a better chance of getting you on the explore page as IG Reels has more space on the Explore page. 

Short of ideas for Reels? Follow the trends, keep a check on the trending music that week, and use the audio to create content.

Secrets of Instagram algorithm #4: Use all the different formats

By this, we mean, cross-promote your content. With multiple different formats like Stories, Posts, Feed Video, Guides, and Reels you have a large scope of pushing a content piece in different forms. 

  • Cross-promoting is an effective way to make sure your post reaches different types of audiences. Some examples of this can be, putting a post on a story with the “Tap Here” sticker, or posting a snippet of your Feed Video as a Reel to entice your followers into watching the video. 
  • Adding collaborators to your post is another new way to reach a large number of audiences while cross-promoting.

Secrets of Instagram algorithm #5: Use engaging captions and comments 

Getting your followers to comment on your content is a tough task, but a necessary one. By using smart and well-framed captions on your posts, you can get your viewers to comment on the post, mention their friends and more. 

Added to this, if you are active in your comment section, your followers will feel more connected to you and will continue to engage with your content. Think of fun, quirky, and smart responses to your followers’ comments. 

Secrets of Instagram algorithm #6: Keep an eye on your Analytics 

Instagram’s analytics is a mind-blowing feature for all creators out there. It tells you what content is working, what time of the day we have the highest reach and engagement, what kind of audience we are reaching, where they are from, and so much more! 

We wrote a whole guide on how IG analytics can help hack your growth. Don’t skip it. 

Tracking and monitoring your numbers on Instagram analytics is a definitive way to understand what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong with your content. Make sure to note these numbers weekly and understand the behaviour of your audience to grow faster. 

Final takeaway on Instagram algorithm and your reach

Well, there you have it. 

How to hack the Instagram algorithm to your advantage in 2022. 

We bid you cheers with one last golden nugget. When you wonder “Why don’t all your posts have the same reach?” consider this.

Even when your content remains just as kicka$$ and your community just as loyal, too much else in the world changes. And that impacts the algorithm. From what people are interested in to the content you’re competing with, all of it affects how many people get to see your posts!

These are forces outside your control, so don’t be disheartened when reach slips and keep doing your thng!