Everything You Need To Know About The 2018 Instagram Algorithm

Jenna Boron of life and personal style blog, Balance and Chaos, talks about the 2018 Instagram algorithm updates, how to boost engagement...

The Instagram algorithm can be a real big buzzkill for influencers, bloggers, and brands. For those of you who are like me and put a lot of energy into perfecting each and every post, seeing one perform poorly can be extremely frustrating.

So let’s rewind for a second.

What IS this so-called “algorithm”? Do you remember when Instagram (and Facebook) used to feature posts from your friends in chronological order? It was easy to log into the app and see what you missed or where you left off at. Now, when we we open these apps, we sometimes see posts from 2-3 days ago at the very top of our feed. This is a direct result of the dreaded Instagram algorithm. When a user posts on Instagram, it is only shown to 10% of his or her followers. If the post performs well with that 10%, then it will be pushed to the remaining 90%. How rude.

Why did Instagram implement an algorithm? Supposedly *eyeroll* Instagram thinks that the algorithm creates a better, more personalized user experience by predicting what THEY think YOU want to see. In my opinion, Instagram saw influencers making money on their platform, so they wanted a piece of the cake. Which is why it is now a pay to play space.

Why is learning the algorithm important? For bloggers like myself, studying and trying to keep up with the ever-changing Instagram algorithm is, unfortunately, very important. For those of you don’t understand why ‘likes’ and comments are important, let me break it down for you. I’ve seen so many articles, discussions, and opinions on how silly the world is today and how pathetic millennials live for social media followers and likes. While this may be the case for some, not so much bloggers who are trying to make a living. No, I am not thirsty for ‘likes’. No, ‘likes’ do not define me or boost my confidence. However, ‘likes’ + comments = engagement. And high engagement means your posts will be seen on Instagram. My Instagram is a direct bridge to my blog. Posting on Instagram is a way to let my followers know that I have something new on my website. Much of the traffic to Balance and Chaos comes from my IG, so it is important for me to stay up to date with the algorithm and beat it.

Here is what I learned about the 2018 Instagram algorithm:

CAPTIONS

While this is nothing new, you should try your best to make your captions as engaging as possible. Try asking a question. Get your followers to engage with your post. Long gone are the days when you could get away with a simple emoji or a one word caption. Somewhere in my research it also said that editing your caption within the first hour of posting will negatively affect it’s performance. So think it through and always draft it before publishing.

HASHTAGS

Hashtags are a great way for people outside of your following to see your posts. For a long time, I used to just copy and paste a set of 15+ hashtags from my notepad into the comment section of my post. The max number of hashtags Instagram lets you use is 30. This is now a thing of the past. Supposedly it is better to come up with just 5 or so unique hashtags and place them into your actual caption for the best performance. The algorithm doesn’t want you to repeat hashtags so get creative with each post and constantly change it up.  Try picking fairly popular, relevant hashtags without using a hashtag that is far too popular. If the hashtag is too popular, your post will get pushed too quickly and no one is going to see it.

COMMENTS

The algorithm wants to see that you are a real person who can engage with your followers. If someone comments on your post, it’s important to comment back within an hour. Also, any comments that are 3 words or less won’t help with your post’s performance. Instagram wants to see genuine thought-out comments or else it’s somewhat useless. Getting 2 comments with real sentences is better than 25 comments that read “CUTE!”

POST, DELETE, REPOST

If you think that your engagement will be better if you delete your post and then repost at another time, you’re probably wrong. Supposedly you will be punished if you’re someone who does this.

INSTAGRAM STORIES

Instagram Stories is super important right now too. Keep up with it and post your little heart out. Using hashtags, geotags, and tagging your location is a good for exposure. Try finding ways to get your followers to direct message you as well. Instagram likes when you get DMs and they see you respond promptly.

With all of that being said, it is definitely crucial to focus your energy on efforts outside of just Instagram (i.e. building your email list, more consistent blog posts, incorporating video, promoting your posts on Facebook, etc.) because who knows what the platform will become.

photo: Joey Kennedy

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