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Understanding the Instagram Algorithm

In 2016, Instagram shifted their content organization from chronological to interest based. This means that when scrolling, users used to view their content based on the time posted. Now, users view content based on an algorithm that prioritizes accounts that have been most interacted with by the user. Therefore, the more you engage with an account, the more likely they will arrive at the top of your home page. Instagram has received a significant amount of flak from this, especially from businesses. Companies believed they had Instagram all figured out, until the algorithm became the new social media norm. Social media managers struggled to hack the algorithm, and learned how to enhance customer engagement among platforms.

Below are the top 5 tips to take advantage of the Instagram algorithm, grow your followers, and generate engagement!

  1. Becoming a topical authority- Companies should integrate their niche vocabulary into their Instagram handle and bio. This does not only include the company name, but also the service or product the business provides. Instagram will then prioritize your account when users search for a particular niche.

  2. Hashtags- Businesses must utilize hashtags in order to enhance the chances of an Instagram user viewing them on the Explore page. Only use up to 6 hashtags, in order to reduce the chances of being shadowbanned. This should include a variety of popular (millions of hashtags), niche (relating to the content and business), and company hashtags (company name).

  3. Study the competition- In any business, it is important to study the competition. This includes content, engagement, and followers. This will allow a social media manager to break down what type of content creates the most engagement, which can then be applied to the business account.

  4. Developing engagement- Engagement is when a user pauses to view a post, comments, likes, shares, or messages an account. Therefore, a business account must promote all varieties of engagement in order to increase the chances of the algorithm prioritizing the account. The post should be eye catching and maintain a general color theme. Videos and animated content also creates more engagement compared to a simple photo. Of course, the post itself must be great quality and interesting to the target audience. However, the importance of captions must not be forgotten. Companies should be utilizing hashtags and creating conversation with users. Try captioning your photo with a question and promote conversations!

  5. Enhance your brand- In order to create a successful brand image on any social media platform, users should be able to immediately know the content is from a specific company. Maintain color themes, include logos, post mission statements, and be sure the content is relevant to the page. Also, take advantage of Instagram stories and highlights!


Daniel James Consulting is a Full-Service Business Consulting Firm based in New York that designs solutions tailored specifically to the needs of your business in order to ensure you achieve continued success by designing, developing and implementing plans, metrics and platforms, be it a one-man operation, non-profit, startup or large organization. Our packaged solutions or a la carte selections include Website Design, Marketing & Advertising, Search Engine Positioning, and Graphic Design. Business Management Solutions are also available for companies of all sizes. For more information please visit:


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