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2023 Instagram algorithm update: What should marketers do about it?

Instagram Algorithm Update.

Once again...

We can joke about it and say that Instagram changes its algorithm more than Barbie Doll changes her outfit. While it can be fun for a while, once it's announced, most digital businesses, influencers, and, of course, we, as marketers, grab our heads and pray that it isn't so bad. If you want professional guidance on managing your social media accounts or any other digital marketing task, Codedesign can help you with our team of professionals.

So, what's coming for this new algorithm update in 2023? What are the changes, and what should we take into consideration? You'll find all the answers and get the right strategies for this new algorithm. So, let's get right into it! 

But before going any further, we have to say...

How did Instagram get to this point?

If you entered the article, you may think that it was weird that we had the old camera logo from Instagram, those times when the platform was just a photo-sharing social media where people took photos of their food, some celebrities shared a few their lives and business and brands started slowly to build a good presence that helped them reach their message to a worldwide audience.

Then, Mark Zuckerberg, the prominent social media owner and creator of the Metaverse, bought the platform. Suddenly, Instagram changed its image, adding new features like stories, ads, and shops and even copying filters from other platforms like Snapchat.

The platform continued growing until a new competitor came to the neighbourhood: TikTok.

This only video platform shook the world before and after the pandemic. In a glimpse of an eye, younger audiences started to prefer this platform instead of Instagram, and even in less time TikTokers became the newest celebrities on the internet. TikTok was a sensation that even the US government wanted to put many controls on - because TikTok it's a Chinese platform originally, and the US government can have all access to its data - and so the TikTok fever kept growing until our days.

Why is all of this important for Instagram and its algorithm? Keep track of this story.

Well, for the first time in many years, Instagram saw a competitor that could take attention from its platform, and it's even more critical because most social media platforms belong to the same guy, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg. People spend dozens and even hundreds of hours scrolling through TikTok's endless feed; its algorithm and For You Page (FYP) have even made it possible to have a better organic reach through the platform, and videos get viral almost every hour within this platform. Everything seemed friendlier for content creators on this platform, and even the popularity was such that people started posting TikTok videos on Instagram. Maybe, this was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Competition is fierce, and as always, Instagram did what most great companies always do when someone is doing good, either buy the company - which they couldn't- or copy what the competition is doing: Yes, it's what they did.

And so, Instagram and Facebook - even YouTube, which is not the property of Mr. Zuckerberg - start applying Reels, a short video format almost the same as TikTok. Nevertheless, many users on Instagram began noticing that photos didn't have the same popularity as they used to. Photos started losing relevancy for many different factors like engagement or even the time you made the post. So Instagram cleared things up and said they'd begin giving more credit to its new feature, Reels, instead of photos. Of course, many content creators that used Instagram to share their photographs started to get frustrated, as this was the right platform to share their work. Instagram wasn't generating the same results as it used to because this algorithm change turned upside down the usual strategies that were successful for this platform.

Source: YouTube.

But while we compared Instagram with TikTok, you may think the second one is the winner. Surprisingly, it isn't.

According to Statista, Instagram has 2.000 million users monthly, surpassing TikTok, which only has 1.051 million. Then, when we look at the article "TikTok Vs Instagram – Users & Stats Compared For 2023," we found that 89% of marketers prefer Instagram over TikTok for digital marketing. The platform gained more than $26 billion in the year 2021 just for advertising, and 96% of brands choose to promote their businesses there, while 6.8% prefer TikTok. Maybe the only aspect on which TikTok overcomes Instagram is in time spent on the platform, with TikTok having 52 minutes on average and Instagram 32 minutes.

With all this background in mind, we now have to face the central problem of this article: what is the new algorithm about, and how can we deal with it?

Let's discover it.

2023 Instagram Algorithm: How does it work?

When we talk about Instagram, we aren't talking about just one algorithm as every section - Feed, Reels, Stories,  Stories, and Explore Page - has different signals or post information that predicts what users will like and what to prioritize.

Some factors include people who usually like your content, so the platform shows your publications to them, or also how often you post, as the platform needs you to spend more time using it. 

Meanwhile, if you go to your stories, you'll usually watch more videos about your close friends and those you have more interactions with, while on the Explore Page, you get to see new accounts on similar topics that you usually like.

So, with the help of Instagram's blog, let's see how all these work for each section.

Instagram Reels algorithm

First, we want to explain the newest feature from the platform, its short format video. In essence, Instagram intends to share new accounts or content on the reel feed so you can get entertainment from other sources. Ideally, the platform likes videos that go from educational, inspiring or funny ones. The platform tends to rank videos by the following signals: 

  1. User engagement: The platform evaluates the type of videos you interact with, means, comments, likes or engagement. With this, Instagram can understand what kind of content you like.
  2. Interaction history: Your interactions with the content creator. If the algorithm perceives that you like their content and follow, they'll send more videos of them.
  3. The content: These signals have to do with the type of audio and video understanding based on pixels and whole frames and the popularity of that account.
  4. Who posted it: The platform gives those who become popular more chances to show their content to a broader audience.

Things to Avoid in Your Reels

It's good to know how it works, but you also have to consider some factors when creating to get more positive points from the algorithm. So avoid any of these:

  • Low-resolution videos: Find some good lighting and a good audio dispositive. To learn more about video marketing, 
    check our complete guide.
  • Reels with watermarks, including - OBVIOUSLY - the TikTok logo (Please, don't do it!)
  • Reels with no audio
  • Too much text: Reels are more about showing and not so much about explaining through text. To go even further, Instagram is more of a 100% visual platform, so, people aren't interested in reading too much.
  • Violating 
    Instagram's community guidelines—check out Instagram's 
    recommendations resource for more.

How does the Instagram Feed and Story algorithm work?

In essence, Instagram wants to show posts and stories from close friends and accounts you interact more with. Then there are ads, which commonly follow a pattern of things you've looked for. For example, if you are looking for an orthodontist, don't get confused if you suddenly receive more recommendations on this topic.

The more you interact with certain people, the platform will catch up that there are the people you like the most, and so their posts and stories will show first. This is important to know because long ago, Instagram stopped showing posts in chronological order. Instead, it's all about popularity and how well you manage its algorithm signals. For feed and stories, these are:

  1. The content itself: How popular is the content, and how many people liked it? 
  2. Who posted it: The algorithm evaluates which accounts you interact with and how many people interact with them to show more or less their posts.
  3. User activity: This evaluates the type of posts you like and what they are about.
  4. Interaction history: How many people interact with an account, and how many comments do they have?

It isn't strange that popularity, or more specifically, engagement is the most important thing to succeed on Instagram. So, if you want your posts to rank higher on both stories and feed, focus on the 5 top interactions:

  • The time users spend watching your content
  • Comments
  • Like
  • Reshares 
  • Taps on your profile picture.

What to Avoid in Your Feed Post and Stories?

  • Posting too often: Rather than what many social media accounts may think, posting every day is a big "NO" if you want to be successful on the platform. If you do this, the platform will avoid showing your posts. Ideally, the best thing to do is check out your analytics and see your best days and times to post.
  • Violating Instagram's community guidelines.
  • Posting misinformation: Doing this could even take your posts to the forgotten ones, so check your information.
  • Reposting stories: Instagram has declared that reposted stories may lose some reach as the platform wants original stories to reach more people.

2023 Instagram Algorithm.

How does the Instagram Explore page algorithm work?

To expand your experience further within the platform, Instagram offers the Explore page that shows content you would like based on the same signals as the feed and stories.

What to avoid showing up on the Explore page

Basically: Don't mess with Instagram's Community Guidelines.

Some readers may think that publications are getting fewer likes because Instagram is shadowbanning their content, but this is false. About these "accusations," they say in their blog:

"We also hear that people consider their posts getting fewer likes or comments as a form of "shadowbanning." We can't promise you that you'll consistently reach the same amount of people when you post. Most followers won't see what you share because most look at less than half of their Feed. But we can be more transparent about why we take things down when we do, work to make fewer mistakes – and fix them quickly when we do – and better explain how our systems work."

So, as we said at the beginning of this section, you only have to ensure that your posts stay within Instagram's Guidelines.

How can you take advantage of this new algorithm?

Post content consistently—with a focus on video

Although we said that posting a lot could affect your reach on the social network, the idea is to post only a few in a row but instead to be constant.

Everyone wants a specific number per week to define their strategy, but unfortunately, this is not a mathematical formula that is always fully fulfilled. It all depends on your particular case.

Some experts recommend two posts per day, but unless you have a large marketing team with you, this posting rate can be exhausting. If you want more help with the management of your networks, contact us.

Beyond the number of daily or weekly posts, the most important thing is their quality since engagement will come hand in hand when you make high-quality creations.

The algorithm will reward you if you have three weekly posts, but both are quality videos and get people to watch them more.

Now, although the social network has promised to restore importance to photos, the preferred format is still reels and preferably short videos, so focus on creating pieces that look good and are also worth watching until the end, and even repeat.

Promote interaction through Stories.

However, only some things should be published in the feed, as we know that stories are also pieces of content that can generate outstanding results for you too.

The good thing about stories is they have too many ways to interact with your audience. In the long run, this increases your engagement, one of the most critical signals for Instagram to give you greater visibility and relevance. It is also important to note that you should respond to your notifications and interactions outside of stories as well, as it all adds up to the same goal.

Finally, when you see that your content is liked enough to have a loyal fan base that wants to know your opinion on any topic in your niche, start implementing Live-Videos where you can interact and chat with them live. This will make you much closer to your audience.

Focus on features like Remixes and Stitches.

Similar to what happens with TikTok, Instagram reels have features that allow you to interact, react or comment on other creators' content. This is quite beneficial for any brand or content creator who wants to increase their reach since, for example, if you make a remix with a video with 50,000 views, you have a better chance that the audience of this creator will find your video, increasing your reach much more. In addition, remixes are quite easy and fun ways to create content since you only need to watch videos that interest you and then react to them or give your point of view from the professionalism you handle in your niche.

This can make creating content daily not so uphill for your brand and thus stay relevant within the platform.

Instagram Tips.

Optimize your content for Non-Followers.

It will always be essential to keep your followers happy. Even so, in the game of networks, the most important thing is to reach those who do not follow you since that is where the key to your growth is.

In this case, we are still talking about videos, and the three factors for a video to be successful are the topic, the keywords and the length.

You should get accounts within your niche that are doing much better than you, and this is not from a perspective to lower your spirits but to understand what topics are more attractive to those who are not. They follow you and thus be able to make videos of those topics within your perspective. This is one of the best ways to expand your reach, expanding your catalogue of topics to reach more people.

Another thing you can do is check your posts and look at those videos or photos in which the most significant number of non-followers interacted. There you can identify topics you must discuss to be more attractive to them.

Final thoughts.

Even though Instagram is changing its algorithm so much these days, we know that in the end, its goal is the same: To make people spend much more time on its platform and not on the competition... Like TikTok *wink, wink. *

So, despite all these changes, your brand strategy must have a central compass: to create quality content and pieces worth seeing and generate debate or conversation around it.

At Codedesign, we are passionate about learning more about all these updates and new features of social network algorithms to provide our clients with the most convenient services to achieve their objectives. If you want more professional advice on everything that has to do with digital marketing, contact us now!

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