Social Media

Instagram Ranking Explained

June 8, 2023

In today’s digital landscape, understanding the intricacies of Instagram’s algorithm has become essential for creators and businesses alike. It’s the key that unlocks the potential to maximize your content’s visibility and drive engagement. Recently, Adam Mosseri, the Head of Instagram, shared valuable insights in his latest Reel, shedding light on how the algorithm ranks content across different sections of the platform, including Stories, Feed, Reels, and the Explore page.

We delved deep into the information shared by Mosseri and have compiled everything you need to know to find success on Instagram. This blog post breaks down the different parts of the app where your content can appear and provides a clear explanation of the ranking process for each section. We also go a step further by offering practical tips and tricks that empower you to leverage this knowledge and optimize your content strategy effectively.

Understanding the Instagram App

Each part of the Instagram app uses its own algorithm tailored to how people use it. People use:

  • Feed- to stay up to date with people you follow
  • Stories- to look at your closest friends
  • Reels- to be entertained
  • Explore/Search – to explore to discover new content and creators

How the Instagram Feed is Ranked

The feed is the central hub where users encounter a curated selection of posts from accounts they follow, showcasing an array of content from friends and family updates to influencers and brands.

How the feed is ranked:

  • Activity — Posts you’ve liked, shared, saved, or commented
  • Information about the post — How popular a post is such as how quickly people are liking, commenting, sharing, and saving a post. In addition to the content itself, like when it was posted and its location, if any.
  • Information about the person who posted — Includes signals like how many times people have interacted with the person posting in the past few weeks.
  • Your history of interacting with someone— How interested you are in seeing posts from a particular person and have you interacted with their content in the past

Tips to rank in feed:

  • Create content your audience wants to engage with! Sharing engaging/educating content that your audience engages with 80% of the time and promotional content 20% of the time will make it more likely your customer will see the promotional post in their feed
  • Post when your audience is most active on the platform
  • Engage with your audience in the comments to boost popularity
  • Use CTA to prompt your audience to take immediate action (like, comment, share, or save)
  • Create content that inspires conversation

How Instagram Stories are Ranked

Situated prominently at the uppermost section of the Instagram app, Stories have emerged as one of the platform’s most utilized features. Enabling users to share fleeting snapshots, engaging videos, and other captivating content in real time, Stories have swiftly gained popularity due to their ephemeral and dynamic nature.

How stories are ranked:

  • Viewing history— This looks at how often you view an account’s stories
  • Engagement history— This looks at how often you engage with that account’s stories, such as sending a like or a direct message
  • Closeness— This looks at your relationship with the person posting and how likely you are to be connected as friends or family.

Tips to rank in stories:

  • Utilize Instagram’s built-in functions like polls and questions to prompt follower interaction
  • Utilize call-to-actions, call your audience to like your stories, comment and start conversations in DMs

How Instagram’s Explore Page is Ranked

The Explore page serves as a digital gateway to discovery on the app. This curated section presents a wide array of content, carefully tailored to cater to individual preferences and interests. It is here that users often stumble upon new brands, accounts, and influencers.

How explore is ranked:

  • Information about the post— This looks at how popular a post seems to be and how quickly other people are liking, commenting, sharing, and saving a post. These signals matter much more in Explore than they do in Feed or in Stories
  • Your activity in Explore— Activity such as likes, saves, shares, or comments and how you’ve interacted with posts in Explore in the past. Instagram will try to show you posts similar to what you have interacted in the past
  • Your history of interacting with the person who posted— Content in the explore page is most likely to be shared by someone you’ve never interacted with, but if you have interacted with them it gives Instagram the signal to continue to show you similar content
  • Information about the person who posted— Looks at how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks

Tips to get on the Explore page:

  • Create visually appealing or humorous content that will capture users’ attention
  • Ensure you are following Instagram’s community guidelines in order to be recommended in Explore

How Instagram Reels are Ranked

Reels, one of the latest features integrated into the Instagram app, has rapidly gained immense popularity among users. These captivating short-form videos are specifically designed to keep users engaged and immersed within the app. With their dynamic and entertaining nature, Reels serve as a powerful tool for capturing and maintaining user attention.

How Reels is ranked:

  • Your activity— Look at things like which reels you’ve liked, saved, reshared, commented on, and engaged with recently.
  • Your history of interacting with the person who posted— If you interact with them, that gives Instagram the signal that you might be interested in what they share
  • Information about the reel— This looks at audio track or visuals in the video, as well as popularity (Likes, comments, saves, shares)
  • Information about the person who posted— This looks at popularity for example the number of followers or level of engagement

Tips for ranking with Reels:

  • Leverage trends and be strategic with the audio you choose
  • Create engaging content that will have the audience watching the Reel from start to end
  • Call-to-actions are KING, make strong CTAs part of your strategy to ensure the audience is not only consuming content but also engaging with it

Understanding the intricacies of Instagram’s algorithm empowers brands and content creators to make the most of their Instagram experience. Armed with this knowledge, you can optimize your content strategy, elevate your storytelling, and forge meaningful connections with your audience.

Looking to build an Instagram presence? Konnect with us to learn how we’ve helped brands stand out on social media.

With 12+ years of marketing experience Christina has spent the last 8 years at Konnect Agency leading digital strategy with a focus on influencer marketing, social media, creative, and digital advertising. Christina works across Konnect’s Food & Beverage, Lifestyle, and Franchise accounts creating holistic strategies for brands such as, ONE Brands, Noodles & Company, Zesty Paws, Yogurtland, KRAVE Jerky, Brazi Bites, ZOA, Laird Superfoods, Remedy Drinks, and Alex’s Awesome Sourdough.

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