Don’t Threat the Instagram Algorithm Update!

Social media algorithm updates are coming fast and often, but it’s the latest Instagram algorithm update that threw a spanner into the works for many users wishing to increase brand visibility using the social network as a tool. With promises of reduced reach of up to 90% of your followers, not paying attention to these changes could mean a significant difference in how your brand performs online.

For individual users building their personal brand, it could mean the end of the road (sorry, Instagram models). As a brand, if you don’t note the changes and how it will impact you, you’ll soon be forgotten by the masses.

As Instagram shifts their focus, it is essential for its users to shift theirs as well. For this reason, we took a deep dive into how exactly the Instagram algorithm update changed, what this means for your business and what you can do to maintain your brand visibility on Instagram.

Note: Many of these updates come as a major blow to frequent users. But remember, it’s only to ensure Instagram remains an app that people enjoy using, free from troll accounts and spammers. 

 Instagram Algorithm Update

Grow Brand Visibility and Unleash the 90%

Instagram will now only show your content to 10% of your audience. Not just any 10%, but the 10% that are most engaged with your content. In other words, if you have one hundred followers, your top 10 most engaged followers will see your content in their feed.

By engagement, we mean likes (minor engagement) or comments (more involved engagement). An impression is eyes on your content or views – so people who scrolled past your content but didn’t like or comment. Impressions don’t count as engagement as the audience is passively looking at content (if at all).

Essentially, how to get your content seen on Instagram is by getting likes and comments. If your 10% of most engaged followers like and comment on your posts, it will be “unleashed” to the other 90%. Just like the “snowball effect,” the more engagements you have, the more you’ll attract. Consequently, if your followers are simply scrolling past your content and not interacting, Instagram won’t care – your followers need to engage. This will become very important when planning your social media marketing strategy – how striking is your post and are you asking questions in your caption?

Quick Response Time

It’s best practice to reply to the comments you receive on your posts within one hour. Lack of response or slow response time will lead to decreased visibility of your posts and of your hashtags, not to mention a dip in community satisfaction.

Use an Engagement tool like Meltwater Engage to help manage your community of customers, prospects, influencers and advocates on Instagram. Find opportunities to connect, tag incoming messages and discover relevant brand conversations that you can join in order to increase engagement further. Meltwater Engage also provides analytics so you can analyse the effectiveness and responsiveness of your Instagram communications, helping you to optimise your strategy.

Grow brand visibility using an Instagram Engagement tool. Combat the Instagram Algorithm Update
Grow brand visibility using an Instagram Engagement tool

Length of Engagement

When it comes to engagement, quick wins won’t count. Even if you’re working extremely hard to try and get all your replies to comments posted in less than an hour, responses will only count from now on if they’re longer than three words. This update was introduced to combat engagement bait.

Instagram wants both comments and replies to comments to be substantial – so commenting just an emoji or “I love it” won’t count towards your engagement anymore. Your followers will have to comment four words or more to ensure your brand visibility doesn’t decrease.

Try to ask longer questions that will spark debate to avoid your posts being put at the back of the algorithm pile!

Hashtag Overload

It used to be that Instagram would cap hashtags at 30 per post. This led to mass hashtagging and some pretty ugly captions. Then users discovered that you can break the lines with full stops and add the hashtags under the “Read More” line break in the caption… But that didn’t look great either. Until recently, accounts have been adding their hashtags to the first comment, separate to the caption – and this worked well, posts were still seen.

Until now.

Instagram does not count hashtags in your comments as engagement anymore. Plus, you’re only allowed to add five per caption.

This. Changes. Everything.

It’s now critical to make sure your hashtags are super-specific and relevant to each post. Now that you have to use hashtags sparingly, the ones you choose need to make the most amount of impact. Use a social media monitoring tool to understand which hashtags are receiving the most engagement in your industry so you can ensure you’re apart of the hottest conversations!

Improving brand visibility in the age of Instagram Algorithm Updates
New Instagram Algorithm Update – Improve Brand Visibility with Relevant Hashtags

Instagram Stories will Carry More Weight

All these Instagram algorithm updates make it seem as though the platform is simply making it more difficult for anyone to be seen. But this one is an update that has us all breathing a communal sigh of relief. This update is here to increase, instead of decrease, our brand visibility on Instagram.

From now on, Instagram Stories are going to carry more weight in terms of engagement as Instagram recognises Stories as gaining organic reach and growth. The Instagram algorithm update favours people that connect with other people, and Instagram has realised that if you’re using the Stories feature, this is probably your primary objective.

Make the most of this by jumping onto Instagram Stories immediately, if you aren’t already making use of it. Take a look at our blog, “Instagram for Business: Creative Ways Brands Can Use Instagram Stories” for some inspiration!

Meltwater Blog - Instagram Algorithm Update

No More Edits

You’ll now be penalised for making edits to your post once it’s gone live. The new Instagram algorithm update will perceive any edits as negative, which will lead them to give your post decreased visibility. If you make a mistake in any part of your post, whether it’s in the image, video or caption, it is better to just delete the post and republish the new content to your page again.

Still struggling to make sense of it all? Join the conversation on Twitter @Meltwater. For more information on how media intelligence can help inform your marketing strategy and ensure you stay on top of the trends, drop us an email

*This post was edited on 23/04/2018