Whether you’re a brand new startup or a Fortune 500 veteran, understanding the Instagram algorithm in order to get your content seen is key. Instagram recently shook things up with a brand new algorithm favoring everything but what they’re known for: photos.
What are the new changes?
Videos and Reels are prioritized in feed over photos
Instagram changed its algorithm to favor videos and reels over photos. This sparked a large backlash and even started a ‘Make Instagram Instagram Again’ movement that was fronted by celebrities and backed by small business owners. Diaspora owner Sana Javeri Kadri leaned heavily on Instagram for marketing before, but the new updates say that engagement has hit rock bottom. Since joining the social media platform, Diaspora gained over 100,000 followers but now says that she feels as though they are at a standstill. “I completely credit them for our growth and then the algorithm changed and our sales dropped horrifyingly.” (“How Instagram’s Algorithm Change Is Hurting Small Businesses”)
New Reels templates
With Instagram wanting reels and videos to be the new focus of the app, they have created templates to allow users to create reels easier and faster than ever before.
Chronological feed is back
Instagram also reintroduced the chronological feed rather than a feed based on assumed relevancy. This means that posting at optimized times, such as when your followers are most active, is more necessary than ever and should be prioritized again.
What is the Difference Between Instagram Reels versus Video?
Instagram Reels was Meta’s response to the growing popularity of short-form videos from TikTok. The Reels tab acts as an explore page for this short-form, video-based content. Under this tab, users are able to scroll through their feed to view any videos regardless of their following status to the creator. In other words, you have a better chance to go viral and be discovered by audiences you previously could not reach; but on the other hand, your content is no longer prominent with audiences you have carefully cultivated.
Video, on the other hand, can be longer form and can also be placed on IGTV, a video application similar to YouTube that is also interlaced within the Instagram app. These tend to be more produced than reels as they are longer and tend to have a purpose beyond just entertainment. Under the Instagram video tab, you can host past videos from any Instagram Live events you’ve had, or you can post long-form videos for up to 10 minutes (verified Instagram users can post up to 60-minute videos).
Tips for Making the New Algorithm Work for You
- Decide what content works best for your brand and your target audience
- Videos vs. Reels vs. Photos vs. Stories
- Reels: Short, entertaining videos that increase your discoverability and reach wider, untapped audiences.
- Videos: Longer forms of video are best for deeper dives into a topic with your existing audience.
- Photos: Static images with longer message captions that are best for polished content combined with hashtags.
- Stories: Images or short videos that live on feeds for only 24 hours that are best for real-time, unpolished content for the opportunity to deepen your relationship with your current audience. Engagement tactics such as user polls or question and answer segments within Stories allow followers to engage directly with brands and influencers, forming a more intimate relationship.
- Videos vs. Reels vs. Photos vs. Stories
- Capture attention in the first three seconds
- Get to the point quickly- In order to increase views on videos and reels, you need to get past the three-second mark in order for it to count as a view, making capturing your user’s attention as quickly as possible is key.
- Caption video content-
- Studies show that 92% of users watch Instagram videos with the sound off, meaning it is more likely than not that your audience will not hear your message without captions.
- Captioned videos can also help improve search engine optimization. The captions can help make videos visible outside of the Instagram platform.
- Since reels and videos have higher discoverability by users not following you, make sure to encourage them to follow your page in order to grow your following.