“What do you think of Instagram’s new algorithm? I’ve been seeing some affect on engagement and I’m trying to figure it out.”

This question came from my friend Supal Desai who runs the travel and lifestyle blog Chevrons & Éclairs. In all honesty I hadn’t had a chance to experiment with the algorithm from a business perspective much. Any changes to my personal feed went largely unnoticed, although I did see an increase in my engagement. However, Supal posts more frequently than I do and is classified as a business account.

To better understand the algorithms impact on a brand’s account, we devised an experiment. For one month I liked all of the photos she posted as I saw them in my feed. This is what I learned:

More Engagement = Higher Frequency

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The more I engaged with her posts, the more I saw them. Supal typically posts three times a day. When the experiment began, I normally saw one post a day from her. By the end I saw all of her content.

The Takeaway: Not all of your followers will see all of your content, but that’s ok because your most engaged followers will. This is your core audience, so it’s more important to reach them than anyone else. They’re the ones who will get excited about your brand and your content no matter what. Changing your content to appeal to a broader audience will only push away your core.

Facebook and Instagram Work Together

A few days into the experiment I went through Chevrons & Éclairs’ Instagram page to see which photos I had liked and which I hadn’t, but I noticed the ones I hadn’t looked familiar. That’s when I realized I recognized them from Facebook. She has the two accounts linked so when she publishes to Instagram, it publishes to Facebook as well. I typically saw a photo one place or the other, but rarely did I see it on both platforms. Since Facebook owns Instagram it would make sense that their algorithms work together.

The Takeaway: Consider your audience. Do you have a lot of overlap between the platforms? If not, keep posting the same content to both when it makes sense. If you do, spend some more time customizing for the platforms and post unique content to each to boost engagement.

Lower Priority is Given to Sponsored Content

Toward the end of this experiment, I was served all of Supal’s content, but I did notice lower priority was given to posts marked #ad or #sponsored. I check Instagram frequently so I typically see content in sequential order, but her sponsored posts would often appear randomly. For example, I noticed a post from of hers from five minutes ago then saw a sponsored post from three days ago further down in my feed. It was mixed in with other content that had all been posted less than 24 hours ago.

The Takeaway: Stories are your friend! Instagram Stories aren’t subjected to the algorithm. Brands should consider this as an alternative route to get their content out there on their terms.

While this insight is important, at the end of the day algorithms won’t impact you as long as you’re producing good content. Stop trying to “hack the system” out of fear and keep posting content that your audience will love that’s true to your brand. The engagement will come naturally and the algorithm will boost your posts to less engaged followers as a result.


Nicole Knox

Nicole has a passion for telling stories through multimedia. Her experience spans across industries from consumer brands to B2B clients. With a differentiated point of view, her experience allows her to find the story in any brand and tell it in a unique and engaging way to communicate effectively with their audience.