September 15th, 2021

All Things Instagram

From birthday updates to the new search maps and the debunking of the IG algorithm, we cover all things Instagram.

It’s been a big week for Instagram, so today’s This Week In Social Media will focuses solely on new IG updates, features and insights. 

Cracking the code of the mysterious algorithm

The day we’ve all been waiting for is finally here: Instagram published the second instalment in its new ‘How Instagram Works’ series, which delves deeper into the BTS of the algorithm, outlining how to maximise your chances of popping up on users feeds and showing up in relevant searches.

We’ve outline the basics for you.

EXPLORE In a nutshell: Instagram uses keywords that are entered into the search field to highlight content that is most suitable to you and your preferences. To find content that might be up your alley, Instagram tries to filter for certain ‘signals’ – accounts, users, content that you interact with, or don’t. Once IG has identified an area of interest for you, it will order similar content by how interesting it might be for you. The metrics are broken down into three key principles: 

  • Search – Whether this be usernames, bios, captions or hashtags
  • Activity – The accounts you follow, the posts you’ve liked, the businesses you interact with
  • Popularity of the post– The number of clicks, likes, shares and follows that a profile receives 

FEED & STORIES In Feed posts and stories are where it’s at. This is where brands want to get exposure, influencers tell their stories and regular users update their friends and family. As a rule of thumb, those posts and stories that are shared by others will be the one’s that rank the highest. Then your personal preferences and post information will be filtered before they get arranged into the feed. Small factors such as whether you use IG mobile or desktop actually make a big impact. But the most important elements are:  

  • Post information – How popular the post is, when it is posted, format and length and location
  • Account that posted – IG assesses whether this account is of relevance to you and how many users have interacted with it recently
  • Activity – Previous searches, accounts and profiles you interact with, and the interaction level you take

Obviously, these interpretations are calculated guesses, not random selections. But there are dozens of singlas that factor into this algorithm. In Feed, the 5 top ranking signals are: how long you spend on the post and whether you comment, like, save or tap onto the profile. The more likely you are to interact with the content, the higher we will rank similar posts on your feed next time. These signals are agile and change over time in accordance to your scrolling behaviour.

REELS The entertainment content section of Reels is assessed similarily to the explore page. What you see is mostly from accounts you do not usually interact with. With Reels the main objective is to ofer you entertaining, fun and engaging content while pushing smaller and more unknown creators.

  • Design and Aesthetic – Audio, video understanding, quality of content and frame design play an important factor in this
  • Interaction History – You are brought in contact with accounts you’ve never interacted with previously. IG then assesses whether you engage with the content or not and tailors further content to you accordingly
  • Activity – The entertainment content you usually interact with is assessed, as well as your recently watched

Now the question arises, how can you directly impact what you see? Firstly, interact with users, profiles and posts that speak to you and you’d like to see more of. Then, create a ‘close friends’ list to prioiritse the posts of those you care about – these will pop up in your queue first. At the same time, mute those posts and people that you want to hear or see less of. Instagram will track these behaviours and redirect this type of content away from you. And last but not least, you have the option of tagging posts in your explore section as “not interested”. If you’re curious to know more, head to Instagram’s detailed announcement here.

What’s Your Birthday?

Taking another leap towards protecting its young users, Instagram is now requiring all users who’ve not previously entered their birth date to do so within the app. This will enable the app to  better control unwanted exposures for young users, protecting underaged and young kids on social media. Additionally, Instagram will also begin asking for people’s birth date info when displaying warning screens on posts, as another measure to get users to enter their age.

Instagram states“We’ve been clear that we want to do more to create safer, more private experiences for young people. To do that we need to know how old everybody is on Instagram, so we’ve started asking people to share their birthday with us if they haven’t shared it previously.”

AU & NZ Mapped out

Last but not least, Instagram has launched a new map feature for a number of global markets, Australia and New Zealand being one of them. The Map Search is an in-app feature that can be accessed through an icon in the explore section. You can then filter by your location and find new restaurants, nail salon, businesses and gyms amongst many more. Your location can be dropped and dragged to a number of different areas, or you can simply search for a specific search words: want a Chicken Shnitty for lunch? IG Maps has the closest restaurant near you. Want to try out a new pilates studio in your LGA? IG Maps knows them all. 

The reasoning behind this new addition is the fact that over 200 Billion businesses are currently active on the app every month, while almost 90% of Instagrammers use the app to interact with businesses. The map will now facilitate this two way conversation. The main driver for this new feature however is to support small businesses that have struggled through the pandemic. The introduction of maps will include hashtags and stickers that will facilitate users to discover new accounts, businesses and venues, enabling users to find new places at the click of a finger. 

Keen to explore what’s out there the second we get out of lockdown? Make sure to update the app and start locating!