Getting Into Instagram’s New Algorithm Rhythm


By: Phil Paschke

If you’ve been following ArtsHacker’s recent exploration of Instagram, you’re already well on your way to making the most of this very visual social media tool. And change being the only thing you can rely on these days, Instagram recently announced they will be implementing an algorithm to show users posts they are “most interested in” first, rather than in strict chronological order.

This is in the same vein as how Facebook (and now Twitter, kinda-sorta) re-orders the timeline feed you see as a user, which is unsurprising considering the increasing usage and ongoing monetization of Instagram by corporations and brands.

Just like you’ve most likely experienced on Facebook, there’s (possibly) less chance your Instagram followers are going to see your posts, as it’s now up to a somewhat arbitrary algorithm to determine how close to the top of a user’s feed your content will appear.

So. What to do?

Option One: Notifications

My Instagram timeline was inundated with a rash of posts begging me to “turn on notifications”. This will cause the follower to get a banner type notification on their mobile device when the account posts, presumably leading to the user instantly viewing the post, rather than coming across it in their timeline.

It’s easy for a user to turn on notifications. They just have to press on the three dots at the top right of the post and select “Turn On Post Notifications”.

Instagram Change Notification
“Here is what you need to tell your followers in order to make sure they continue to receive notifications every time you post.”

This is certainly an option, but my caution is that you may not see huge uptake on this. I pretty much ignored posts like this in my feed (they got really old after the fifth one in a row), and I’ve already seen much digital eye-rolling on Twitter over these kinds of pleas.

That said, I suppose it’s probably not going to hurt if you’re really worried; if you’re going to do it, just try to come up with something that sounds reasonable and clever instead of desperate, ok?

Option Two: Post Great Content

Sure, it sucks that Instagram is now one more tool with seemingly inscrutable criteria for success, but let’s face it: if you’re posting interesting and targeted content your audience is engaging with through comments and likes, you’re going to be rewarded with better placement! If you’re just rehashing your PR and advertising copy through one more medium, you’ll likely be punished. It raises the bar and forces you to be timely, compelling, and consistent, but all those sound like good things to me.

Fortunately, ArtsHacker has your back: the previously mentioned resources are a great place to start in meeting this new challenge.

[box type=”note”]PS: Despite the dire warnings in your feed, Instagram is not rolling out the change “tomorrow”. They’re still in testing phase and it could be weeks or months before this happens. That just means more time to cultivate your audience through great content and engagement![/box]

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Phil Paschke
Philip has had a fascination with all things tech ever since his parents brought home a Commodore 64 and he learned to type Load “*”,8,1. Combining his love of gadgets with a passion for music, he completed a B.Mus in Theory and Composition, while working part-time at the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra & Winspear Centre box office. After thirteen years with the organization progressing through titles like New Media Specialist and Communications Manager, he recently relocated to Wagga Wagga, Australia (really) for a down-under adventure. Whichever hemisphere he's in, Philip makes time for fine food, peaty scotch, and staying up way too late playing Sim City.
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