DM

2019 Update: How the Instagram Algorithm Works & What This Means for Businesses

The social media landscape continues to adapt to the world around us, with businesses needing to keep up or risk becoming redundant.
As the biggest mover and shaker on the social scene, Instagram is certainly not immune to these shifts, many of which can seem hard to predict and almost impossible to master.
In an effort to stay on top of the game, Instagram is constantly tweaking and refining how they measure and display your content.
The Instagram algorithm is far from opaque, with the platform’s ranking and filing code shrouded in layers of mystery.
While system-wide changes always have an intention, even the smallest adjustments can affect your reach and impact your bottom line.
The basic struggle between fresh and relevant content remains, but the situation has been made a little more complex thanks to the addition of “relationships” as a critical ranking signal.
Let’s take a look at the state of the Instagram algorithm in 2019 and see what you can do to stand out from the crowd.
A little history for context
Now owned by Facebook, Instagram burst into life in 2010 as a small and exclusive iOS service.
While the same basic system has been in place from the outset, many changes have been made along the way.
The original only-square aspect ratio was relaxed in 2015, messaging features and “Stories” were added, and the reverse-chronological order that originally defined the platform was eliminated in 2016.
This was a critical update, with Instagram showing some of their cards by prioritising what users cared about over the latest posts.
Based almost solely on images and video content, Instagram has relied heavily on its algorithm since then to organise and rank its huge and ever-growing masses of content.
This key change highlights the ongoing battle for social media platforms, with people wanting the perfect balance between fresh novel content and relevant personal content.
A delicate balancing act
Recent complaints by Instagram users, and subsequent changes by the platform in 2018, are proof of this delicate balancing act. Among other things, people were annoyed at being automatically bounced to the top of their feed and were also frustrated by seeing the same posts for days on end.
Changes were also made to make it easier for users to see things of interest, with the platform giving a higher ranking to specific posts based on a prediction of relevancy.
Despite their onwards and upwards success, Instagram and other social media platforms have been struggling to make sense of the world over the last few years.
Much of this confusion relates to the tension between what is “new” and what “matters”, with the “interaction” between people valued more and more as a relationship signal.
Just like the changes made by Facebook in 2018, “relationships” have become the critical third factor that attempts to break the deadlock between novelty and value.
In many ways, Instagram and other social media platforms are getting back to where they began, by focusing on the connections that exist between people and the content they engage with every day.
While it’s still crucial for businesses to post new content that’s relevant and adds value, it’s equally important to think about relationships by posting interactive content and creating networks among people that grow and evolve over time.

Where we’re at in 2019
Instagram has continued to grow beyond the wildest imaginations of its two founders. While the struggle at the outset is the same basic struggle as today, the situation has become more complex as the user base continues to grow and become more self-aware.
While businesses often complain about continual updates and changes, efforts by businesses to hack or outsmart the algorithm are what’s responsible for many of the changes in the first place.
In 2019, Instagram has initiated measures to support vulnerable people who use the platform, introduced Instagram Checkout, and put more focus on “Stories” and other features that support relationships. @shop was also started to support small businesses and solo creators, and a newly designed navigation bar was added to “Explore” to aid the discovery process.
In terms of the algorithm itself, perhaps the last word should be left to Instagram, in this telling post from the end of January, 2019:
What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.
– Instagram on Twitter
As things stand in 2019, Instagram continues to use a number of individual ranking signals in its eternal quest to find the perfect balance between novelty, relevance, and relationships. While the actual Instagram algorithm will never be known by the general public, these three abstract signals provide both an insightful summary and a practical system for businesses who want to get ahead of the curve.
1. Novelty
People have and always will love what is fresh, new, and different from yesterday. Instagram knows this more than anyone else, with their currency of images and videos going stale much faster than the text content that defines other platforms.
As a business in 2019, you need to be aware of “recency” by posting more often than the competition. Frequency is not the only factor, however. You also need to engage your market by posting content while your audience is online. Frequency of use is essential, so you need to give your audience a reason to open the app and engage with your brand.
2. Relevance
People have and always will love what they know, care about, and are interested in. As mentioned, “relevance” can be seen as a counter-point to “recency”, with businesses needing to create valuable content that means something more than being new.
Instagram measures interest by predicting what’s relevant to users based on their past behaviour. While basically the same as how Facebook and YouTube filter content, Instagram also use image recognition software in an effort to guess whether or not your audience will appreciate your posts.
3. Relationships
People have and always will love their friends, family, and relationships. As the most recent, but also the oldest, ranking signal in Instagram’s toolbox, relationships should be front and centre of your social media efforts in 2019.
While Instagram has always been about relationships, the connections that exist between people and people, and people and content, are now valued more acutely and codified more clearly.
The Instagram algorithm prioritises content from accounts that interact with each other. Whether it’s a comment, a notification, or a DM, there is a new focus on friends and family along with novelty and relevance.
While this might seem like bad news for a commercial organisation, as long as you treat your customers and stakeholders like friends and family, you should be more than fine. Instagram wants you to care about your audience by transforming them into a community.

Practical tips in 2019
Frequency and value and not mutually exclusive – You don’t need to post often, you need to post something valuable as often as you can.
Be aware of international timelines – If an Instagram post drops in the middle of the night and no-one sees it, does it really exist?
Improve the quality of your photos – On Instagram, the pretty pictures are the content. Improving image quality is one of the easiest ways to add value.
Don’t forget about Stories – Stories are popular, so why not use them. According to Techcrunch, Instagram Stories now have over 500 million users a day.
Do more with videos and live streaming – While images are great, moving images are better, and live moving images are better still. Even if your Instagram account is primarily based on images, the odd video can add depth to your feed.
Post like a person – Even if you’re a multinational business, you’re probably made up of real flesh and blood human beings. People like people. Post like a person, be personable, and create a community.
Be pro-active and get ahead – While you don’t want to be too pushy, you can create much more interactive conversations by encouraging people to turn on notifications.
Understanding the delicate three-way relationship that defines the Instagram algorithm is absolutely crucial for your success.
In an ideal world, every post and interaction you have on the platform should keep these three factors in mind.
All of these things should work together, so if it feels like something is missing, pause and try again.
Regardless of your business, Instagram marketing should always be based on novel and valuable content – images, videos, and stories that create conversation and build communities around your brand.

2019 Update: How the Instagram Algorithm Works & What This Means for Businesses

The social media landscape continues to adapt to the world around us, with businesses needing to keep up or risk becoming redundant.
As the biggest mover and shaker on the social scene, Instagram is certainly not immune to these shifts, many of which can seem hard to predict and almost impossible to master.
In an effort to stay on top of the game, Instagram is constantly tweaking and refining how they measure and display your content.
The Instagram algorithm is far from opaque, with the platform’s ranking and filing code shrouded in layers of mystery.
While system-wide changes always have an intention, even the smallest adjustments can affect your reach and impact your bottom line.
The basic struggle between fresh and relevant content remains, but the situation has been made a little more complex thanks to the addition of “relationships” as a critical ranking signal.
Let’s take a look at the state of the Instagram algorithm in 2019 and see what you can do to stand out from the crowd.
A little history for context
Now owned by Facebook, Instagram burst into life in 2010 as a small and exclusive iOS service.
While the same basic system has been in place from the outset, many changes have been made along the way.
The original only-square aspect ratio was relaxed in 2015, messaging features and “Stories” were added, and the reverse-chronological order that originally defined the platform was eliminated in 2016.
This was a critical update, with Instagram showing some of their cards by prioritising what users cared about over the latest posts.
Based almost solely on images and video content, Instagram has relied heavily on its algorithm since then to organise and rank its huge and ever-growing masses of content.
This key change highlights the ongoing battle for social media platforms, with people wanting the perfect balance between fresh novel content and relevant personal content.
A delicate balancing act
Recent complaints by Instagram users, and subsequent changes by the platform in 2018, are proof of this delicate balancing act. Among other things, people were annoyed at being automatically bounced to the top of their feed and were also frustrated by seeing the same posts for days on end.
Changes were also made to make it easier for users to see things of interest, with the platform giving a higher ranking to specific posts based on a prediction of relevancy.
Despite their onwards and upwards success, Instagram and other social media platforms have been struggling to make sense of the world over the last few years.
Much of this confusion relates to the tension between what is “new” and what “matters”, with the “interaction” between people valued more and more as a relationship signal.
Just like the changes made by Facebook in 2018, “relationships” have become the critical third factor that attempts to break the deadlock between novelty and value.
In many ways, Instagram and other social media platforms are getting back to where they began, by focusing on the connections that exist between people and the content they engage with every day.
While it’s still crucial for businesses to post new content that’s relevant and adds value, it’s equally important to think about relationships by posting interactive content and creating networks among people that grow and evolve over time.

Where we’re at in 2019
Instagram has continued to grow beyond the wildest imaginations of its two founders. While the struggle at the outset is the same basic struggle as today, the situation has become more complex as the user base continues to grow and become more self-aware.
While businesses often complain about continual updates and changes, efforts by businesses to hack or outsmart the algorithm are what’s responsible for many of the changes in the first place.
In 2019, Instagram has initiated measures to support vulnerable people who use the platform, introduced Instagram Checkout, and put more focus on “Stories” and other features that support relationships. @shop was also started to support small businesses and solo creators, and a newly designed navigation bar was added to “Explore” to aid the discovery process.
In terms of the algorithm itself, perhaps the last word should be left to Instagram, in this telling post from the end of January, 2019:
What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.
– Instagram on Twitter
As things stand in 2019, Instagram continues to use a number of individual ranking signals in its eternal quest to find the perfect balance between novelty, relevance, and relationships. While the actual Instagram algorithm will never be known by the general public, these three abstract signals provide both an insightful summary and a practical system for businesses who want to get ahead of the curve.
1. Novelty
People have and always will love what is fresh, new, and different from yesterday. Instagram knows this more than anyone else, with their currency of images and videos going stale much faster than the text content that defines other platforms.
As a business in 2019, you need to be aware of “recency” by posting more often than the competition. Frequency is not the only factor, however. You also need to engage your market by posting content while your audience is online. Frequency of use is essential, so you need to give your audience a reason to open the app and engage with your brand.
2. Relevance
People have and always will love what they know, care about, and are interested in. As mentioned, “relevance” can be seen as a counter-point to “recency”, with businesses needing to create valuable content that means something more than being new.
Instagram measures interest by predicting what’s relevant to users based on their past behaviour. While basically the same as how Facebook and YouTube filter content, Instagram also use image recognition software in an effort to guess whether or not your audience will appreciate your posts.
3. Relationships
People have and always will love their friends, family, and relationships. As the most recent, but also the oldest, ranking signal in Instagram’s toolbox, relationships should be front and centre of your social media efforts in 2019.
While Instagram has always been about relationships, the connections that exist between people and people, and people and content, are now valued more acutely and codified more clearly.
The Instagram algorithm prioritises content from accounts that interact with each other. Whether it’s a comment, a notification, or a DM, there is a new focus on friends and family along with novelty and relevance.
While this might seem like bad news for a commercial organisation, as long as you treat your customers and stakeholders like friends and family, you should be more than fine. Instagram wants you to care about your audience by transforming them into a community.

Practical tips in 2019
Frequency and value and not mutually exclusive – You don’t need to post often, you need to post something valuable as often as you can.
Be aware of international timelines – If an Instagram post drops in the middle of the night and no-one sees it, does it really exist?
Improve the quality of your photos – On Instagram, the pretty pictures are the content. Improving image quality is one of the easiest ways to add value.
Don’t forget about Stories – Stories are popular, so why not use them. According to Techcrunch, Instagram Stories now have over 500 million users a day.
Do more with videos and live streaming – While images are great, moving images are better, and live moving images are better still. Even if your Instagram account is primarily based on images, the odd video can add depth to your feed.
Post like a person – Even if you’re a multinational business, you’re probably made up of real flesh and blood human beings. People like people. Post like a person, be personable, and create a community.
Be pro-active and get ahead – While you don’t want to be too pushy, you can create much more interactive conversations by encouraging people to turn on notifications.
Understanding the delicate three-way relationship that defines the Instagram algorithm is absolutely crucial for your success.
In an ideal world, every post and interaction you have on the platform should keep these three factors in mind.
All of these things should work together, so if it feels like something is missing, pause and try again.
Regardless of your business, Instagram marketing should always be based on novel and valuable content – images, videos, and stories that create conversation and build communities around your brand.

2019 Update: How the Instagram Algorithm Works & What This Means for Businesses

The social media landscape continues to adapt to the world around us, with businesses needing to keep up or risk becoming redundant.
As the biggest mover and shaker on the social scene, Instagram is certainly not immune to these shifts, many of which can seem hard to predict and almost impossible to master.
In an effort to stay on top of the game, Instagram is constantly tweaking and refining how they measure and display your content.
The Instagram algorithm is far from opaque, with the platform’s ranking and filing code shrouded in layers of mystery.
While system-wide changes always have an intention, even the smallest adjustments can affect your reach and impact your bottom line.
The basic struggle between fresh and relevant content remains, but the situation has been made a little more complex thanks to the addition of “relationships” as a critical ranking signal.
Let’s take a look at the state of the Instagram algorithm in 2019 and see what you can do to stand out from the crowd.
A little history for context
Now owned by Facebook, Instagram burst into life in 2010 as a small and exclusive iOS service.
While the same basic system has been in place from the outset, many changes have been made along the way.
The original only-square aspect ratio was relaxed in 2015, messaging features and “Stories” were added, and the reverse-chronological order that originally defined the platform was eliminated in 2016.
This was a critical update, with Instagram showing some of their cards by prioritising what users cared about over the latest posts.
Based almost solely on images and video content, Instagram has relied heavily on its algorithm since then to organise and rank its huge and ever-growing masses of content.
This key change highlights the ongoing battle for social media platforms, with people wanting the perfect balance between fresh novel content and relevant personal content.
A delicate balancing act
Recent complaints by Instagram users, and subsequent changes by the platform in 2018, are proof of this delicate balancing act. Among other things, people were annoyed at being automatically bounced to the top of their feed and were also frustrated by seeing the same posts for days on end.
Changes were also made to make it easier for users to see things of interest, with the platform giving a higher ranking to specific posts based on a prediction of relevancy.
Despite their onwards and upwards success, Instagram and other social media platforms have been struggling to make sense of the world over the last few years.
Much of this confusion relates to the tension between what is “new” and what “matters”, with the “interaction” between people valued more and more as a relationship signal.
Just like the changes made by Facebook in 2018, “relationships” have become the critical third factor that attempts to break the deadlock between novelty and value.
In many ways, Instagram and other social media platforms are getting back to where they began, by focusing on the connections that exist between people and the content they engage with every day.
While it’s still crucial for businesses to post new content that’s relevant and adds value, it’s equally important to think about relationships by posting interactive content and creating networks among people that grow and evolve over time.

Where we’re at in 2019
Instagram has continued to grow beyond the wildest imaginations of its two founders. While the struggle at the outset is the same basic struggle as today, the situation has become more complex as the user base continues to grow and become more self-aware.
While businesses often complain about continual updates and changes, efforts by businesses to hack or outsmart the algorithm are what’s responsible for many of the changes in the first place.
In 2019, Instagram has initiated measures to support vulnerable people who use the platform, introduced Instagram Checkout, and put more focus on “Stories” and other features that support relationships. @shop was also started to support small businesses and solo creators, and a newly designed navigation bar was added to “Explore” to aid the discovery process.
In terms of the algorithm itself, perhaps the last word should be left to Instagram, in this telling post from the end of January, 2019:
What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.
– Instagram on Twitter
As things stand in 2019, Instagram continues to use a number of individual ranking signals in its eternal quest to find the perfect balance between novelty, relevance, and relationships. While the actual Instagram algorithm will never be known by the general public, these three abstract signals provide both an insightful summary and a practical system for businesses who want to get ahead of the curve.
1. Novelty
People have and always will love what is fresh, new, and different from yesterday. Instagram knows this more than anyone else, with their currency of images and videos going stale much faster than the text content that defines other platforms.
As a business in 2019, you need to be aware of “recency” by posting more often than the competition. Frequency is not the only factor, however. You also need to engage your market by posting content while your audience is online. Frequency of use is essential, so you need to give your audience a reason to open the app and engage with your brand.
2. Relevance
People have and always will love what they know, care about, and are interested in. As mentioned, “relevance” can be seen as a counter-point to “recency”, with businesses needing to create valuable content that means something more than being new.
Instagram measures interest by predicting what’s relevant to users based on their past behaviour. While basically the same as how Facebook and YouTube filter content, Instagram also use image recognition software in an effort to guess whether or not your audience will appreciate your posts.
3. Relationships
People have and always will love their friends, family, and relationships. As the most recent, but also the oldest, ranking signal in Instagram’s toolbox, relationships should be front and centre of your social media efforts in 2019.
While Instagram has always been about relationships, the connections that exist between people and people, and people and content, are now valued more acutely and codified more clearly.
The Instagram algorithm prioritises content from accounts that interact with each other. Whether it’s a comment, a notification, or a DM, there is a new focus on friends and family along with novelty and relevance.
While this might seem like bad news for a commercial organisation, as long as you treat your customers and stakeholders like friends and family, you should be more than fine. Instagram wants you to care about your audience by transforming them into a community.

Practical tips in 2019
Frequency and value and not mutually exclusive – You don’t need to post often, you need to post something valuable as often as you can.
Be aware of international timelines – If an Instagram post drops in the middle of the night and no-one sees it, does it really exist?
Improve the quality of your photos – On Instagram, the pretty pictures are the content. Improving image quality is one of the easiest ways to add value.
Don’t forget about Stories – Stories are popular, so why not use them. According to Techcrunch, Instagram Stories now have over 500 million users a day.
Do more with videos and live streaming – While images are great, moving images are better, and live moving images are better still. Even if your Instagram account is primarily based on images, the odd video can add depth to your feed.
Post like a person – Even if you’re a multinational business, you’re probably made up of real flesh and blood human beings. People like people. Post like a person, be personable, and create a community.
Be pro-active and get ahead – While you don’t want to be too pushy, you can create much more interactive conversations by encouraging people to turn on notifications.
Understanding the delicate three-way relationship that defines the Instagram algorithm is absolutely crucial for your success.
In an ideal world, every post and interaction you have on the platform should keep these three factors in mind.
All of these things should work together, so if it feels like something is missing, pause and try again.
Regardless of your business, Instagram marketing should always be based on novel and valuable content – images, videos, and stories that create conversation and build communities around your brand.

2019 Update: How the Instagram Algorithm Works & What This Means for Businesses

The social media landscape continues to adapt to the world around us, with businesses needing to keep up or risk becoming redundant.
As the biggest mover and shaker on the social scene, Instagram is certainly not immune to these shifts, many of which can seem hard to predict and almost impossible to master.
In an effort to stay on top of the game, Instagram is constantly tweaking and refining how they measure and display your content.
The Instagram algorithm is far from opaque, with the platform’s ranking and filing code shrouded in layers of mystery.
While system-wide changes always have an intention, even the smallest adjustments can affect your reach and impact your bottom line.
The basic struggle between fresh and relevant content remains, but the situation has been made a little more complex thanks to the addition of “relationships” as a critical ranking signal.
Let’s take a look at the state of the Instagram algorithm in 2019 and see what you can do to stand out from the crowd.
A little history for context
Now owned by Facebook, Instagram burst into life in 2010 as a small and exclusive iOS service.
While the same basic system has been in place from the outset, many changes have been made along the way.
The original only-square aspect ratio was relaxed in 2015, messaging features and “Stories” were added, and the reverse-chronological order that originally defined the platform was eliminated in 2016.
This was a critical update, with Instagram showing some of their cards by prioritising what users cared about over the latest posts.
Based almost solely on images and video content, Instagram has relied heavily on its algorithm since then to organise and rank its huge and ever-growing masses of content.
This key change highlights the ongoing battle for social media platforms, with people wanting the perfect balance between fresh novel content and relevant personal content.
A delicate balancing act
Recent complaints by Instagram users, and subsequent changes by the platform in 2018, are proof of this delicate balancing act. Among other things, people were annoyed at being automatically bounced to the top of their feed and were also frustrated by seeing the same posts for days on end.
Changes were also made to make it easier for users to see things of interest, with the platform giving a higher ranking to specific posts based on a prediction of relevancy.
Despite their onwards and upwards success, Instagram and other social media platforms have been struggling to make sense of the world over the last few years.
Much of this confusion relates to the tension between what is “new” and what “matters”, with the “interaction” between people valued more and more as a relationship signal.
Just like the changes made by Facebook in 2018, “relationships” have become the critical third factor that attempts to break the deadlock between novelty and value.
In many ways, Instagram and other social media platforms are getting back to where they began, by focusing on the connections that exist between people and the content they engage with every day.
While it’s still crucial for businesses to post new content that’s relevant and adds value, it’s equally important to think about relationships by posting interactive content and creating networks among people that grow and evolve over time.

Where we’re at in 2019
Instagram has continued to grow beyond the wildest imaginations of its two founders. While the struggle at the outset is the same basic struggle as today, the situation has become more complex as the user base continues to grow and become more self-aware.
While businesses often complain about continual updates and changes, efforts by businesses to hack or outsmart the algorithm are what’s responsible for many of the changes in the first place.
In 2019, Instagram has initiated measures to support vulnerable people who use the platform, introduced Instagram Checkout, and put more focus on “Stories” and other features that support relationships. @shop was also started to support small businesses and solo creators, and a newly designed navigation bar was added to “Explore” to aid the discovery process.
In terms of the algorithm itself, perhaps the last word should be left to Instagram, in this telling post from the end of January, 2019:
What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.
– Instagram on Twitter
As things stand in 2019, Instagram continues to use a number of individual ranking signals in its eternal quest to find the perfect balance between novelty, relevance, and relationships. While the actual Instagram algorithm will never be known by the general public, these three abstract signals provide both an insightful summary and a practical system for businesses who want to get ahead of the curve.
1. Novelty
People have and always will love what is fresh, new, and different from yesterday. Instagram knows this more than anyone else, with their currency of images and videos going stale much faster than the text content that defines other platforms.
As a business in 2019, you need to be aware of “recency” by posting more often than the competition. Frequency is not the only factor, however. You also need to engage your market by posting content while your audience is online. Frequency of use is essential, so you need to give your audience a reason to open the app and engage with your brand.
2. Relevance
People have and always will love what they know, care about, and are interested in. As mentioned, “relevance” can be seen as a counter-point to “recency”, with businesses needing to create valuable content that means something more than being new.
Instagram measures interest by predicting what’s relevant to users based on their past behaviour. While basically the same as how Facebook and YouTube filter content, Instagram also use image recognition software in an effort to guess whether or not your audience will appreciate your posts.
3. Relationships
People have and always will love their friends, family, and relationships. As the most recent, but also the oldest, ranking signal in Instagram’s toolbox, relationships should be front and centre of your social media efforts in 2019.
While Instagram has always been about relationships, the connections that exist between people and people, and people and content, are now valued more acutely and codified more clearly.
The Instagram algorithm prioritises content from accounts that interact with each other. Whether it’s a comment, a notification, or a DM, there is a new focus on friends and family along with novelty and relevance.
While this might seem like bad news for a commercial organisation, as long as you treat your customers and stakeholders like friends and family, you should be more than fine. Instagram wants you to care about your audience by transforming them into a community.

Practical tips in 2019
Frequency and value and not mutually exclusive – You don’t need to post often, you need to post something valuable as often as you can.
Be aware of international timelines – If an Instagram post drops in the middle of the night and no-one sees it, does it really exist?
Improve the quality of your photos – On Instagram, the pretty pictures are the content. Improving image quality is one of the easiest ways to add value.
Don’t forget about Stories – Stories are popular, so why not use them. According to Techcrunch, Instagram Stories now have over 500 million users a day.
Do more with videos and live streaming – While images are great, moving images are better, and live moving images are better still. Even if your Instagram account is primarily based on images, the odd video can add depth to your feed.
Post like a person – Even if you’re a multinational business, you’re probably made up of real flesh and blood human beings. People like people. Post like a person, be personable, and create a community.
Be pro-active and get ahead – While you don’t want to be too pushy, you can create much more interactive conversations by encouraging people to turn on notifications.
Understanding the delicate three-way relationship that defines the Instagram algorithm is absolutely crucial for your success.
In an ideal world, every post and interaction you have on the platform should keep these three factors in mind.
All of these things should work together, so if it feels like something is missing, pause and try again.
Regardless of your business, Instagram marketing should always be based on novel and valuable content – images, videos, and stories that create conversation and build communities around your brand.

2019 Update: How the Instagram Algorithm Works & What This Means for Businesses

The social media landscape continues to adapt to the world around us, with businesses needing to keep up or risk becoming redundant.
As the biggest mover and shaker on the social scene, Instagram is certainly not immune to these shifts, many of which can seem hard to predict and almost impossible to master.
In an effort to stay on top of the game, Instagram is constantly tweaking and refining how they measure and display your content.
The Instagram algorithm is far from opaque, with the platform’s ranking and filing code shrouded in layers of mystery.
While system-wide changes always have an intention, even the smallest adjustments can affect your reach and impact your bottom line.
The basic struggle between fresh and relevant content remains, but the situation has been made a little more complex thanks to the addition of “relationships” as a critical ranking signal.
Let’s take a look at the state of the Instagram algorithm in 2019 and see what you can do to stand out from the crowd.
A little history for context
Now owned by Facebook, Instagram burst into life in 2010 as a small and exclusive iOS service.
While the same basic system has been in place from the outset, many changes have been made along the way.
The original only-square aspect ratio was relaxed in 2015, messaging features and “Stories” were added, and the reverse-chronological order that originally defined the platform was eliminated in 2016.
This was a critical update, with Instagram showing some of their cards by prioritising what users cared about over the latest posts.
Based almost solely on images and video content, Instagram has relied heavily on its algorithm since then to organise and rank its huge and ever-growing masses of content.
This key change highlights the ongoing battle for social media platforms, with people wanting the perfect balance between fresh novel content and relevant personal content.
A delicate balancing act
Recent complaints by Instagram users, and subsequent changes by the platform in 2018, are proof of this delicate balancing act. Among other things, people were annoyed at being automatically bounced to the top of their feed and were also frustrated by seeing the same posts for days on end.
Changes were also made to make it easier for users to see things of interest, with the platform giving a higher ranking to specific posts based on a prediction of relevancy.
Despite their onwards and upwards success, Instagram and other social media platforms have been struggling to make sense of the world over the last few years.
Much of this confusion relates to the tension between what is “new” and what “matters”, with the “interaction” between people valued more and more as a relationship signal.
Just like the changes made by Facebook in 2018, “relationships” have become the critical third factor that attempts to break the deadlock between novelty and value.
In many ways, Instagram and other social media platforms are getting back to where they began, by focusing on the connections that exist between people and the content they engage with every day.
While it’s still crucial for businesses to post new content that’s relevant and adds value, it’s equally important to think about relationships by posting interactive content and creating networks among people that grow and evolve over time.

Where we’re at in 2019
Instagram has continued to grow beyond the wildest imaginations of its two founders. While the struggle at the outset is the same basic struggle as today, the situation has become more complex as the user base continues to grow and become more self-aware.
While businesses often complain about continual updates and changes, efforts by businesses to hack or outsmart the algorithm are what’s responsible for many of the changes in the first place.
In 2019, Instagram has initiated measures to support vulnerable people who use the platform, introduced Instagram Checkout, and put more focus on “Stories” and other features that support relationships. @shop was also started to support small businesses and solo creators, and a newly designed navigation bar was added to “Explore” to aid the discovery process.
In terms of the algorithm itself, perhaps the last word should be left to Instagram, in this telling post from the end of January, 2019:
What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.
– Instagram on Twitter
As things stand in 2019, Instagram continues to use a number of individual ranking signals in its eternal quest to find the perfect balance between novelty, relevance, and relationships. While the actual Instagram algorithm will never be known by the general public, these three abstract signals provide both an insightful summary and a practical system for businesses who want to get ahead of the curve.
1. Novelty
People have and always will love what is fresh, new, and different from yesterday. Instagram knows this more than anyone else, with their currency of images and videos going stale much faster than the text content that defines other platforms.
As a business in 2019, you need to be aware of “recency” by posting more often than the competition. Frequency is not the only factor, however. You also need to engage your market by posting content while your audience is online. Frequency of use is essential, so you need to give your audience a reason to open the app and engage with your brand.
2. Relevance
People have and always will love what they know, care about, and are interested in. As mentioned, “relevance” can be seen as a counter-point to “recency”, with businesses needing to create valuable content that means something more than being new.
Instagram measures interest by predicting what’s relevant to users based on their past behaviour. While basically the same as how Facebook and YouTube filter content, Instagram also use image recognition software in an effort to guess whether or not your audience will appreciate your posts.
3. Relationships
People have and always will love their friends, family, and relationships. As the most recent, but also the oldest, ranking signal in Instagram’s toolbox, relationships should be front and centre of your social media efforts in 2019.
While Instagram has always been about relationships, the connections that exist between people and people, and people and content, are now valued more acutely and codified more clearly.
The Instagram algorithm prioritises content from accounts that interact with each other. Whether it’s a comment, a notification, or a DM, there is a new focus on friends and family along with novelty and relevance.
While this might seem like bad news for a commercial organisation, as long as you treat your customers and stakeholders like friends and family, you should be more than fine. Instagram wants you to care about your audience by transforming them into a community.

Practical tips in 2019
Frequency and value and not mutually exclusive – You don’t need to post often, you need to post something valuable as often as you can.
Be aware of international timelines – If an Instagram post drops in the middle of the night and no-one sees it, does it really exist?
Improve the quality of your photos – On Instagram, the pretty pictures are the content. Improving image quality is one of the easiest ways to add value.
Don’t forget about Stories – Stories are popular, so why not use them. According to Techcrunch, Instagram Stories now have over 500 million users a day.
Do more with videos and live streaming – While images are great, moving images are better, and live moving images are better still. Even if your Instagram account is primarily based on images, the odd video can add depth to your feed.
Post like a person – Even if you’re a multinational business, you’re probably made up of real flesh and blood human beings. People like people. Post like a person, be personable, and create a community.
Be pro-active and get ahead – While you don’t want to be too pushy, you can create much more interactive conversations by encouraging people to turn on notifications.
Understanding the delicate three-way relationship that defines the Instagram algorithm is absolutely crucial for your success.
In an ideal world, every post and interaction you have on the platform should keep these three factors in mind.
All of these things should work together, so if it feels like something is missing, pause and try again.
Regardless of your business, Instagram marketing should always be based on novel and valuable content – images, videos, and stories that create conversation and build communities around your brand.

How to Improve Your Outreach Strategy

Having an outreach strategy isn’t sending out a bunch of generic emails and hoping someone says yes. Do you respond to all the junk mail you get? Business and website owners are confronted with a barrage of requests on a daily basis. If they don’t know you or your product, then why would they want to work with you?
Understand Outreach Strategy
That’s where understanding outreach strategy comes in. The most important thing to remember is link building isn’t just asking for backlinks or product reviews. You’re making a connection. You’re building a relationship with another person or brand. In the end, the answer may still be no, but if you’ve developed a relationship there’s also the chance you’ve just created an opportunity for more than a one-time deal. Before you reach out to anyone, do your homework. Check out their website. Research their blog or brand. Is it something you want to associate with? Is there a commonality you share that you can remark on?
A successful outreach campaign is built on mutually beneficial outcomes. You want to gain backlinks and improve visibility for your brand or product but what are they getting? Highlight how whatever you’re offering will benefit them, their brand, and their audience. You aren’t asking for something, you’re giving something.
Do Your Homework
As mentioned above, a successful outreach strategy is built from doing your research. You know your product. You’re aware of what your brand stands for (and if you don’t, you need to figure that out first!). Is your target aligned with your brand goals? Also, and it’s astounding how often this is overlooked, are they direct competitors?
That last one may seem like common sense, but it’s truly mind blowing how many people skip out on their homework and end up sending a generic pitch to a direct competitor. Not only are you setting yourself up for failure, but you’re also coming across less-than-spectacularly to a competitor. Oversights can happen, yes, but 99 times out of 100 you should’ve checked the site out and seen this.
As for researching their brand and their site, it doesn’t take long. A quick glance over their site should tell you what you need to know. If you’re unclear what their site is after a quick glance, then it’s probably not one you want to link to anyway. Quality over quantity. See if they have content relevant to your pitch. Do they accept guest posts? Do they consider adding links? Many bloggers and brands will plainly state what they accept. You can frequently find this alongside their contact information.
Personalize Your Message
Whether you’re sending an email, a DM, or smoke signals: personalize your message. You can have templates, sure, but personalize however, and whenever, possible. There will be times when you can’t find a specific name to address your email to and that’s fine. The body of your email can still be personalized in other places. Include why you feel whatever you’re pitching them is great for both of you. Tell them why it fits with their brand. People respond better to communication that feels personal. Speak to them one person to another. Don’t act like they’re a robot or not a random email address you sent a form letter to.
Hand-in-hand with doing your homework is making sure your personalization is accurate. Misspelled names, incorrect company names, and irrelevant topics are excellent ways to ensure your message gets trashed immediately.
Get to the Point
This is, appropriately, very straightforward. Get to the point! This starts with the subject line of your message and continues into the body of text. Keep it clear and concise. Feel free to introduce yourself and your brand, but don’t make your target read through four paragraphs of fluff before they get to the point of the message. It’s guaranteed they will never read that far and into the trash it’ll go. More to the point, they know why you’re contacting them. There’s no mystery in why brands reach out to one another. A straightforward, concise message is all they need to determine if they vibe with you or not.
Be Persistent, Not Annoying
People get busy. You stay busy, right? Well, so do they. If you’ve reached out to a target and you haven’t gotten a response then follow up! There’s a difference between following up and harassment, however. If you follow up and still receive no reply, take the hint. Either they’re not interested or maybe now isn’t a good time. Give it a while and then you can consider reaching out to them again in the future. Keeping your outreach strategy organized will help you stay on top of who you’ve heard from, who you’ve followed up with, and who you need to let alone.
When it comes down to it, outreach strategy is building a relationship between people and working to benefit both sides. There’s an art to it. Outreach is essential to your digital marketing strategy. It helps improve SEO, drive site traffic, and expand brand visibility. Try these tips and see the difference for yourself.
A version of this article originally appeared here.

8 Steps to Influencer Marketing on Twitter

Recently, I presented a webinar with Leadtail titled “How Top Marketers at Mid-Size Companies Engage on Social Media.” The webinar related to a Social Insights Report that DNN and Leadtail collaborated on.
In the report, we provided insights on how marketers at mid-size companies use Twitter: the links they share, the brands they retweet, the users they mention and more. Among the lists included in the report are the “Top 50 People Most Retweeted” and the “Top 50 People Most Mentioned” (on Twitter).
Prior to the webinar, I was reviewing the slides with Karri and Carter of Leadtail. We were looking at some of the “actionable insights” we included, on how brands (and people) can engage influencers on Twitter.
The Light Bulb Moment
As long as we’re including tips on how to engage influencers on Twitter, we thought, why not practice what we preach? We thought we’d reach out to the Top 50 List (on Twitter) and ask them how they like to be engaged by others.
We were able to hear back from these influencers quickly. As a result, we inserted a number of their tweets into the webinar slides. So we considered it a successful exercise in influencer engagement. From that exercise comes this eight step guide for doing your own influencer engagement on Twitter.
8 Steps to Engaging Influencers on Twitter
Without further ado, let’s cover the eight steps for engaging influencers on Twitter.
1) Build Relationships Before You Need Them

Credit goes to Ann Handley (@annhandley) for these words of wisdom (thanks, Ann!). The first step is quite easy: follow influencers on Twitter. The follow gives influencers an indication that you exist. Even influencers with 100,000 followers will check to see the “new followers” they’re getting. Some influencers “follow back” liberally, while others are more selective. Don’t expect an immediate “follow back.”
In the meantime, observe the sorts of content the influencers are sharing and publishing, as well as the nature of their interactions with other users. Occasionally retweet some of their tweets. Don’t retweet everything they tweet, as that can border on creepy. Look at the articles or blog posts they’re publishing. Tweet a link to the article, include some of your thoughts and be sure to “mention” their Twitter handle in the tweet.
Also, focus on sharing useful and relevant content on Twitter. As an influencer gets mentioned by you, they’re likely to “check out” your Twitter profile. In addition to your photo and bio, they’ll probably view your most recent tweets. If you can interest them with your tweets, they may decide to follow you back.
If you do receive a follow back, that’s great. Now, you can “direct message” (DM) the influencer and s/he can DM you back. This gives you a communications channel to the influencer, but I would not rely on that channel, as many Twitter users ignore DM’s (due to volume, spam, unsolicited offers, etc.).
Instead, take the follow back as a good sign, but keep doing useful things: sharing useful articles, sharing their content, replying to some of their tweets, etc.
2) Partner Up to Widen Your Reach
We used the “power of three” in our influencer outreach: Karri, Carter and myself. Each of us built relationships with some influencers. Now, it was an opportunity to make use of them. By pooling together our outreach, we tripled our combined reach. We took the Top 50 lists and divvied up the outreach across the three of us. But we didn’t seek to engage the entire Top 50 lists.
3) Identify the Influencers Most Likely to Engage

Photo source: User vox_efx on flickr.
If you’re looking to curry favor with U.S. President Barack Obama, you’re unlikely to do so via Twitter. By checking the President’s Twitter feed, you’ll see a lot of content sharing, a few retweets (mainly of the White House) and very few interactions with other users.
Now look at some of your target influencers. If they interacted with you before (e.g. retweet or mention), there’s a chance they’ll do so again. Check how often they interact with other users (count how many of their tweets begin with a Twitter user handle). Also, look at how quickly they respond. Some influencers are on Twitter all the time. They receive a mention and reply back within minutes. If you find a user like this who’s also interacted with you before, they’re likely to engage with you again.
Of course, if you “know” the influencer (perhaps you met them at a conference and connected with them on LinkedIn), that’s a good sign, too. With our outreach, we looked at a Top 50 list and determined the 10-15 people who were the most likely to engage with us.
Once you identify your “most likely” list, throw in a few “reach for the stars” attempts, because you could get lucky. While he didn’t respond, we did tweet out to Jimmy Fallon.
4) Define Your “Ask”
With few exceptions, you won’t facilitate business or transactions via influencers on Twitter. It’s challenging to get influencers to provide an action that directly benefits you. Instead, you need an arrangement that benefits both of you.
Often, that’s about inviting influencers into a conversation. Choose a conversation topic that interests them (or, if you have a pre-defined topic, use that topic to identify relevant influencers). In our case, the “ask” was pretty simple: share some tips with us.
5) Communicate Your “Ask”
Get this step wrong and your entire plan may backfire. To start, be open and transparent. That means explaining (in your tweet) what you’re looking to get and why. The “why” is important, since it provides influencers with the right context.
Next, communicate how you’ll use what they provide and whether there are any next steps. In our outreach, we communicated to influencers that we were compiling quotes to use in a webinar. For them, that signaled where their tweet may end up. This gives them the chance to decline the opportunity or, tweet back, but ask you NOT to include the tweet in the webinar.
Be sure to address the what, why, how and where.

Bonus Tip: If the first word of your tweet is a Twitter handle, insert a period (“.”) at the beginning, like I did in this tweet to Ian Gertler. If I did NOT preface the tweet with a period, the only people who’d see my tweet are Ian, plus my followers who also follow Ian (though I bet many of them do just that). By sharing your tweet with a wider audience, you may draw others into the conversation, such as Don Power, who’s influential in his own right.
6) Make “Digital Eye Contact”
When we ask for something in person, we always make eye contact with the person we’re asking. In the online world, I call it “digital eye contact ” — looking directly at the person means being present and available. Don’t auto-tweet your “ask” at a scheduled time. Make sure you’re ready, willing and able to respond (quickly!) to any question or comment from the influencer.
If influencers respond and it takes you a day to get back to them, they’re less likely to take action. But if you reply back minutes later, they’re more inclined to give you what you want, on the spot.
7) Follow Up to Close the Loop

Circle back with the influencers (who participated) to show them how you used their contributions. When we uploaded the webinar slides to SlideShare, we tweeted to our contributors, pointing them to the slides in which their tweet was listed. In addition, we created a “story” of tweets using Storify and tweeted the Storify link to the influencers.
8) Continue the Conversation
The Twitter engagement could (and should) be the beginning of a long term relationship. Continue to read influencers’ blog posts and tweets and engage with them when appropriate. If you continue to provide value, there may come a day when the influencers come to you to ask for a favor.
Conclusion
Following this list will give you a strong chance of engaging with influencers in your target market:
Build Relationships Before You Need Them
Partner Up to Widen Your Reach
Identify the Influencers Most Likely to Engage
Define Your “Ask”
Communicate Your “Ask”
Make “Digital Eye Contact”
Follow Up to Close the Loop
Continue the Conversation
This post was originally published on the DNN blog.

12 Most Common Mistakes Businesses Make In Social Media (And How To Avoid Them)

Social media is one of the very best ways to get your brand out there and engaged with, but it is so easy to make huge mistakes on social. Do any of the things in this article and you will find that your social media presence suddenly becomes worthless, even harmful to your company.
1. Getting the profile wrong
Missing the chance to make an impact from the outset.
Don’t forget that, especially as a small business, your social media profiles are the very first things that prospects see. If they are not developed carefully enough, and if they don’t present your company in a good light, you have absolutely no excuse when the whole thing comes crashing down about your ears. To combat this potentially serious problem, you need to ensure that all of your data is on the bio. This means your company details and your URL when it comes to your main site. This is vital, but you would be surprised how many companies get it wrong. It is absolutely incredible that some businesses out there have what can only be described as ‘uninspiring’ profiles on all the major social media channels they are a part of. For more tips, go here.

2. Not monitoring the conversation
Ignoring what people say about your business.
If you are an established small business, you will have a presence online. If you have a presence online, then you should be monitoring it. This is another classic mistake that companies make. They ignore the fact that people are talking about them online and basically stick their heads in the sand. Customers actually take this to a new level by expecting you to keep an eye on the mentions and other aspects of your online presence. If you don’t respond to stuff that is being said about your company online you are simply asking for trouble. For more information on companies that don’t monitor conversations about their business, try this.
3. Handling negativity badly
Sticking your head in the sand, or yanking it out and screaming.
If you’re looking for real failure with social media then simply ignore, delete or get angry about negativity. There is going to be some negativity aimed at your company online, and this will only get worse as your company develops and become more successful. If you delete comments that are negative, people will notice and they will just write more. If you ignore them, there is at least a chance that you appear to ‘rise above’ stuff, which works for a while. If you get angry though, then there is an absolute firestorm heading your way. Keep calm and respond in a sensible and focused manner, and people will love you for it.
4. Not being human
Insisting on a dry, corporate voice.
Get the voice right if you want to survive on social. Too many companies sound automated, literally like robots when they respond to people or when they post updates. Bring some humour into it and this way people will genuinely warm to you and see this as being part of your brand. What’s more, they will like you.
5. Making your DMs automated
Not responding personally.
The biggest fail right now for companies on Twitter is the old classic: the automated DM that tells people that you’re super happy to get to know them and to keep looking out for each other’s tweets. This sounds as robotic as you’d expect, and people are starting to switch off from it. Take your time on Twitter when finding new followers anyway (see next point), but most definitely avoid treating them like another number. Respond personally, and watch the engagement rise.
6. Over following on Twitter
Not keeping it targeted.
As another aspect of the previous point, stop following millions of people every year. Twitter is now working better as a social media platform for people who follow genuinely interesting people, or users who would be interested in what you have to offer on the platform. Blanket follow, and the audience will become something you would rather avoid, especially when you see meaningless tweets and messages flashing up that just waste your time. Get connected to people who mean something to you and you can’t go wrong.
7. Ignoring calls to action
A recipe for low ROI.
If you want to ensure that people actually get something out of your social media content and give something back to you (ROI), you need to ensure that there is some call to action at least some of the time. It is easy to just send out a bunch of tweets and write a few blog posts that show great expertise and insight, but not much else. If people like what you do, they should be able to find out more about you and engage with you more. Who knows, they may even buy something at some point. Include a call to action on your social media and you will find that the ROI just grows and grows.
8. Over-automating your presence
Something that Facebook is getting cross about.
Avoid the automated update stuff. Facebook has been known to get rather angry with businesses that automate their updates, because it wants to see more people actually engaging with the audience they’re trying to build up. Spend time talking to customers and your wider audience, and try your best to mix up any automaton with some genuine content that you have created yourself.
9. Using hashtags too much
Even three is too much.
We won’t actually use one in this section, but the overuse of hashtags has made social media a bit of a minefield for the casual observer (i.e. prospects). Hashtags are way overused and people are now switching off when they see them. The worst businesses include more than three hashtags in their tweets for example (and we think that is pretty rich, to be honest). No one wants death by hashtag, so show some mercy. For more insight on hashtags and tracking hashtags, go here.
10. No social plan
You need a social media marketing strategy.
Not having a plan is a pretty big mistake. Too many businesses just build out their Twitter page and their Facebook presence and then sit back, expecting people to rush out there and connect with them. This is not how the world works, and it is most certainly an easy way to fail on social media. You need to get people to come to you through some super-savvy marketing. Publicise your social media channels on your blog, your business card, and even the side of your car if you have to. Whatever you do, don’t just wait for people to come to you. Social media is a funny thing. There are millions of people using it, but it is almost impossible to find an audience unless you talk about your social media in the real world, or on other channels. At the very least, if you’re an established company, send out a press release when you post your very first tweet, for example.
11. Obsessing on follower numbers
It’s all about the quality, not the quantity.
Don’t get hooked on poring over your numbers either. It is very easy to become obsessed with looking at your follower numbers and expecting these to translate into sales. The best thing you can do on social is focus on creating high-quality content that makes people sit up and listen. This is the only way you gain an ROI from your hard work. Having fifty million followers on a platform just means that fifty million people have clicked on your name. They won’t avidly read your content unless it is relevant and valuable to them.
12. Not keeping it fresh
Regular, consistent content is important.
Finally, get fresh content out as often as is reasonable. Don’t be that company that posts 50 times a day and hopes that people come and buy. Instead, focus on creating regular content or sharing content on a very consistent basis. This way, people will know when to expect you to join the conversation, and this knowing will mean that they will welcome you.
So there are the twelve most common mistakes you can make on social media. All of them are easy to make (we all want to deny we did number 12 at least once, for example), but if you can avoid them, your social presence will only grow over time.