Instagram’s New Algorithm: Upping Your Instagame


(By Stephanie Winans) Remember when (cue Alan Jackson for you country fans) Facebook was the only social network whose algorithm changes could get your panties or whitie-tighties in a bunch? Instagram recently announced that their feed will change from a chronological feed to an algorithm-based feed.

What does this mean for your station or show? It means you need to keep doing what you’re doing and just create good content.

Users are upset because they don’t like change and they enjoy the existing Instagram user experience. Marketers are freaking out because they envision (and wisely so) that this change will make it more difficult for their posts to hit follower feeds unless they buy ads.

You aren’t a marketer. You aren’t selling a product. You’re pushing the one thing that organically performs well: engaging content.

The trick is to know what “engaging content” is. The silver lining of this change is that Instagram will make that obvious for you if you’ll pay attention. You won’t have to worry as much about the best time to post and whether you need to repeat posts throughout the day to reach more of your audience. You can focus on testing and measuring what types of content work instead.

You should regularly measure which types of posts drive the best results. If your station doesn’t subscribe to social media measurement or listening tools, you can setup an Excel spreadsheet and track your progress on your own. Here are tips for making the algorithm work for you:

  1. Define “success” first. Are you trying to drive likes, comments, or traffic to the website? Increase your followers? Know what you need to measure.
  2. Research hashtags regularly. Post a combination of hashtags with each post. Limit yourself to seven or you could look like a spammer. Include a mix of station hashtags, market-specific local hashtags, relevant-to-that-post hashtags, and trending hashtags to increase your reach. Note whether certain hashtags seem to drive more engagement.
  3. Pay attention to post types. Does your biggest response come from personality-focused posts? Entertainment news? In-studio video? Personal posts unrelated to your radio show? Track your posts long enough and you’ll know what your listeners want to see from you. Here is a creative example from Shoboy in the Morning at AMP Radio in New York City on how to use Instagram video to promote entertainment headlines.
  4. Spend time on your captions. The best images or videos fail to get response without a strong caption. Think of the caption as your on-air tease; craft it carefully. Track whether certain types of captions drive more engagement (i.e. short ones vs. long ones, questions vs. fill-in-the-blanks).
  5. Ask for the engagement you want (but don’t sound desperate). “Double tap if you agree” after posting an opinionated caption is a classy way to ask for engagement. “Tag everyone you’ve ever met” is not.
  6. Try new things. If no one likes it, Instagram will make sure it gets buried in the feed. You can take some risks and see how your ideas pan out.
  7. Leverage what you know about Facebook. The Instagram algorithm-based feed will react similar to Facebook’s news feed. Although Instagram is a visual social media, Facebook (and the rest of the Web) is becoming that, too. It’s a fair assumption to begin with that the types of content that do well within the News Feed will do well on Instagram, too.
  8. Re-strategize. That’s right. When you collect this data, you need to set aside time to Interpret it and shift your strategy. If no one ever likes your posts about your pet squirrel, it’s time to tell Rocky you’re sorry but he isn’t an Instaceleb.

For an excellent write-up on how all of your favorite social media networks’ algorithms work, check out this Hubspot post.

Stephanie Winans is a social media strategist and content curator for The Randy Lane Company and Stephanie Winans Digital. Learn more at or e-mail her at [email protected].


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