Remember that button named ‘following’ just beside the ‘you’ button, well that feature is no longer available. If you are using an older version of the app and you click that feature, you will probably get a message like “To focus on our most-used features, we’re removing following activity. Update your app to see the new activity tab”. This means you can no longer snoop on your friends, what they liked, the people they are following and posts they commented on.
In the past you could know what your followers were up to, the comments they made on the photo of a trending issue, pet peeves, fantasy, celebrity crush etc, all from monitoring their feeds. Now Instagram has removed the ‘stalking’ feature and everyone gets to enjoy more privacy.
For people who probably never noticed this feature, the following tab was the second button to the left at the top when you click on the heart icon on the app’s interface. If you have an updated app, it is not there anymore instead you just have your online activity log.
When the Instagram head of product Vishal Shah was asked for a reason, he simply stated that the tab was being removed for simplicity’s sake. In his interview with Buzz feeds he said: “People didn’t always know that their activity is surfacing, so you have a case where it’s not serving the use case you built if for, but it’s also causing people to be surprised when their activity is showing up.”
For people who have a lot to hide or find it difficult to express themselves online for fear of being watched, this is a great and favourable upgrade and allows them much privacy. In truth, it is no one’s business who you decide to follow or like their posts. For people who like to snoop on others, well, you need to find a new hobby!
Let’s talk a little bit about the Instagram algorithm.
A lot of business owners who use Instagram to expand their businesses are finding it more difficult to get more post engagement, reach the target audience or even grow followers. This is because you don’t understand how the social medial algorithm for this platform works.
There are different algorithms for;
- Feed post
- Instagram Stories
- Instagram TV (IGTV)
- Explore page
Algorithm for Feed post
If you have noticed, your posts may not be getting so many likes as before. Some people have opined that this is because only 10% of your audience sees your posts in their feed. The feeds a person sees is not only a function of who they follow but also who and what they like.
If the algorithm thinks there is a high probability you’ll like a post, it makes sure it appears in your feed. By using machine learning, it compares your previous likes to the post on the feed and determines if it worth presenting to you. Another factor that determines if a post shows on your feed is if the post has a lot of likes and comments. The algorithm immediately assumes that such is premium content you will want to see.
If the system can identify the type of relationship you have with the person posting, it will influence how and when the person’s post shows on your feed. The algorithm determines relationships by monitoring the interaction between you and your followers. So, if you constantly like, interact, and comment on a person’s post, the algorithm will classify them as friends and family and restrict interaction to such people.
The Instagram algorithm also considers the timeliness of your posts. This means that older posts fade away and has lesser chances of being noticed. If you are using Instagram for business purposes, you need to use Instagram insights to check when your followers are most active and the best time to post.
The algorithm also considers how often you use your app, so if check your feed more often, you will see the best post since you last checked at the top of your feed.
Algorithm for Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are found at the top of your app’s interface once you open the app. Just like your feed post, most of the stories you see are from users you interact with the most on Instagram. Instagram stories are time-bound for 24 hours and only shows the latest feeds. So, if you want to be seen, you have to post regularly.
The algorithm also notices frequent engagement and activity using the features in Instagram stories like the poll stickers and question stickers etc. so when people respond to the stories, there is a higher chance your post shows on their stories
The algorithm also takes into account the “tap and Hold” technique. This is when someone taps and hold your stories and spends a long time on it. When such happens, the app records this information and send stories from that account to the top of your list anytime a story is posted.
Algorithm for IGTV
This is a relatively new feature. Like all others, it uses the same techniques and criteria as posts to choose when, where and how to display videos. IGTV videos can be classified into
- For You: Vides the algorithm thinks you might like
- Following: Videos from people you are following
- Popular: Videos trending on IGTV
Formerly, IGTV videos only displayed on your IGTV channel but a recent upgrade now allows you post a 1-minute preview on your feed. This means that if your followers watch this video and follow through to IGTV to watch the full video, the algorithm records the video as high-quality content. It then places the IGTV Video on the explore page suggesting it to people that may have similar interests and like the video.
Algorithm for Explore page
The algorithm employed for the explore page is unique. Using machine learning this platform is being upgraded every day to make the explore page user experience more personal. This page has topic channels that give you clear directions to content that interest you.
Using machine learning, it gathers information about your social behavior i.e. the accounts you like, videos you watch, comments you make on posts etc. This is why the explore page is different for friends when they don’t have similar interests.
The algorithm considers the popularity of a Hashtag along with other factors to determine the kind of post to show you when you click on the hashtag button in the explore page. Using Instagram insights, you can get so much information about how your audience, followers and the world at large respond to your posts, stories and IGTV Videos.
In conclusion, knowing how Instagram algorithm works will help you develop a strategy to get the best from your Instagram account. If you want to change the kinds of feeds you get on any of the pages just monitor the kinds of posts you engage and interact with.