Tips for Navigating the Instagram Algorithm

cape cod marketing firmby Brittany McSorley


Instagram is a huge part of our Cape Cod social media marketing work, and like most online platforms, it is constantly evolving. Updates are added to Instagram all the time, and social media marketers need to stay on top of those updates to get the most out of their content.


In addition to adding new features like Stories and Reels, Instagram also updates its algorithm, and each change can have a huge impact on marketing ROI. The biggest shift occurred back in 2016, when the platform did away with organizing users’ feeds in reverse chronological order. No longer did we see the most recent content at the top of our feed; instead, we saw the content the algorithm dictated based on engagement.


Since that fateful day, being successful on Instagram has been all about how much your followers interact with your content. Posting on a regular basis and using a few popular hashtags is no longer enough for visibility, and marketers continue to struggle against the algorithm.


And the changes keep coming. The latest Instagram shift involves a decision to no longer promote Reels that have a TikTok watermark. Once TikTok became the platform of choice for the young and cool, Instagram wasted no time in introducing Reels, which is basically TikTok wearing a fake mustache. Content creators took to recycling TikTok videos by sharing them as Reels, but it seems that isn’t going to fly anymore.


The takeaway: Instagram is tricky, and it will continue to be tricky. So here are a few tips to help you navigate the platform and get the most out of your posts (I think I just made that up! Fun!):


  • If you share Reels, vertical videos that include music from Instagram’s offered library are ranked higher in the feed (Note: business accounts typically can’t add music in Reels, so it’s best to upload a finished video with audio already in place)


  • According to Shopify, sharing IGTV previews to your grid does wonders for engagement


  • Update Stories consistently to increase visibility in your followers’ feeds


  • Also in Stories, take advantage of location tags—Instagram will share your content to followers who are nearby


  • Increase engagement by using features like polls and questions in your Stories


  • Sprout Social emphasizes the importance of good photos—the sharper and more professional, the better


  • Share more video content than you think you need to, and go Live as often as possible


  • Later suggests cross-promoting your content within the platform: promote your grid posts or Reels to your Stories, and share IGTV previews to the grid


  • Your content should encourage followers to comment, like, and send direct messages; all of those tallies contribute to your ranking in the algorithm


  • And, as always, be sure to post during the right hours (you can use the platform’s insight tools to decipher when your followers are most likely to be online)


It’s only a matter of time before Instagram rocks our world with another update. Rest assured we’ll be here to break it down for you.