More than a billion users in total, the stories feature alone use 400 million people a day – the relevance of Instagram in marketing is growing almost daily. No wonder that brands, advertisers of all kinds, as well as individuals, do everything in their power to reach the maximum reach on the platform. There are always rumors and myths. OMR has confronted Heiko Hebig, Partnership Manager for Northern Europe on Instagram, with the most persistent ones – and the criteria by which posts really end up in the user’s feed.
OMR: Changes to feed algorithms in the past have not been very positive for some platforms. Why can not Instagram users choose between the new sort order and the chronological feed?
Heiko Hebig: There are always people turning to me who feel that they have completely missed posts since the 2016 feed was adjusted. I would like to say very clearly: Users nowadays see more than 90 percent of the feed’s feed, compared to less than half at the time of the chronological feed. That’s why we decided to change, so there’s more interaction on Instagram today, not less.
OMR: Still, some users want the chronological feed back.
Hebig: Of course we also understand that some people would still prefer a chronological feed. That is why it is important to me to explain our thoughts behind the new algorithm.
Our main concern is to give people on Instagram the best possible experience – anything else would make no sense to both us and the users. We are constantly conducting qualitative and quantitative research, and the data clearly shows that people are getting a better experience with a weighted feed that is not chronological.
OMR: A common argument of critics is that they would no longer see all the posts of the channels they follow.
Hebig: Instagram hides nothing. Each post of all profiles followed by a user will appear in the feed. Of course, depending on how many accounts you follow and how often the app is used, it may mean that you have to scroll for a while to see everything. To give you an even better understanding of the feed, in July we introduced the message “You’re up to date”. With this notification, we indicate when users have seen all the posts in the last few days.
Conversely, this also means, of course, that each user has it in his own hands, how many accounts he follows and how many contents appear in their own feed. In the meantime, as a user, you can optionally decide whether you want to see certain content from content in the feed or in the stories and thus have even better control.
OMR: Currently it gives the impression that videos are preferred in the feed.
Hebig: The algorithm generally does not prefer a specific format. Whether someone sees more pictures or videos in their feed depends on whether the profiles you follow will post more photos or videos. But to put it plainly: The trend is clearly in the direction of video, both in the feed and in the stories – and of course even IGTV.
Nowadays it is very easy to record a video and publish it on Instagram, and more and more users are doing it daily. So we see a lot more moving pictures in the feed than a few years ago. And the community also likes to watch videos. So I definitely advise everyone to experiment with videos on Instagram.
OMR: keyword IGTV – can you call usage numbers?
Hebig: Concrete figures on IGTV we can not communicate at the current time. The interest in creators and media companies is in any case unbroken. For example, the Instagram stars “Lisa and Lena” have recently released the first part of a small documentary series. In it, they are closely accompanied in the preparations for their presentation at “The Dome”.
OMR: A persistent rumor is so-called shadow banning, the secret blocking of certain content.
Hebig: There is no Shadow Banning on Instagram. This term was not coined by us. However, the display of hashtag pages is personalized and dynamic. This can sometimes give the impression that a particular photo or video is not displayed to a particular user. We also protect ourselves, like any digital platform, against spam and abuse. Nothing is removed unless content violates community guidelines.
OMR: What role do hashtags play in the visibility of posts? There seems to be a trend to maximize the maximum, as there is hope to generate more reach.
Hebig: We recommend that you do not use more than ten hashtags at the most, otherwise it will be too confusing. This applies to both posts and comments.
OMR: We keep hearing the advice to turn his profile into a business account. That increase the range.
Hebig: No matter if standard profile or company account: The type of profile has no influence on the reach of the posts. Anyone who wants to promote their business with Instagram can and should definitely use a business account, ie convert the default profile in the settings into a company account. As an analysis tool or for communication with the community, this option has many advantages.
OMR: Stories seem to be the platform format of the hour. Does their use on Instagram affect the visibility of regular posts in the feed?
Hebig: No, neither the use of stories, nor the live feature, has an impact on the visibility of posts in the feed.
OMR: And what about the post-frequency? Does that affect the visibility of regular posts in the feed?
Hebig: No, that also does not affect the visibility of posts in the feed.
OMR: Based on which criteria does the Instagram algorithm decide which posts I get played like?
Hebig: Each feed is personalized and evolves, depending on how people use the app. But as you said, you can see all content from all the profiles you follow. The algorithm only ensures the best possible sorting. In addition to the frequency of app usage, the number of profiles you follow, and the amount of time you spend, there are three factors that determine what content you see on Instagram earlier in the feed.
OMR: And that would be?
Hebig: For one thing, those are interests. We try to weight content so that users see the things that interest them more. Here, for example, the number of likes and comments is important, but also the time that a user spends on content from certain profiles and many other signals that help in the assessment. On the other hand, of course, relationships play a role. Posts by people with whom a user is particularly close, for example because he has frequently interacted with him in the past, be it through comments, direct messages or postings, are sorted above. In addition, it is unsurprisingly synonymous with timeliness. Recently posted content is more likely to appear at the top than posts that are already several days old.
OMR: Thanks for the interview.
This article was first published by Online Marketing Rockstars (OMR).