Instagram has finally revealed exactly how their Algorithm works to a room full of journalists in their new San-Fran office. They have also confirmed that at this time there are no plans to go back to the reverse chronological order that we were all hoping would return.

Instagram’s initial decision to move away from the reverse chronological feed came off the back of users complaining that they were missing 70-50% of friends’ post but as soon as Instagram changed the feed to fix this they were faced with a huge amount of backlash- despite users seeing an increase of the posts they wanted to see in their feed.

Most of the criticisms had to do with timeliness, and users being shown posts from 3-4 days prior.  As a user, this was quite frustrating if you were wanting to participate in a time sensitive offer from your favourite brand, and we imagine this was even more frustrating for the brand.

At the recent gathering, Instagram finally revealed what criteria it looks at when deciding what it will show us in our feed.

Here’s the water cooler breakdown:

Three main factors Instagram takes into consideration are:

  1. Interest: This is determined by past behaviour on posts that are similar and how much you have cared about them in the past.
  2. Recency: Instagram will prioritise more recent posts over older posts.
  3. Relationship: What is your relationship with the person who shared it? The more you interact with this person the more posts you will see.

Apart from these major three factors, Frequency of use (how often you open the app), Following (how many people you follow might affect how much content Instagram can show you) and Usage (how long you spend on Instagram) also come into play.

One of the main misconceptions demystified was that Instagram doesn’t give preference to personal accounts or business accounts. There has been a bit of talk recently with users switching accounts with rumours Instagram was favouring personal accounts over business accounts.

What does this mean for marketers?

With Instagram looking like it’s following in Facebook’s footsteps and heading towards encouraging more spend for greater reach, marketers need to also look at ways they can increase engagement on posts, use stories to reach more people and not be afraid to open up their wallets!


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