Understanding The New Instagram Algorithm 2018

Understanding The New Instagram Algorithm 2018

We are barely into 2018 and Instagram has already made many changes to their  algorithm. We know how much confusion and frustration this can cause, so in this blog post, we are going to break it down for you and teach you about the new changes, how they can affect you, and what you can do to succeed at Instagram while working within their guidelines.

1. There is only a 10% chance of visibility.

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Yup, you heard that right! Any time you make a new post on Instagram, only 10% of your followers will see it when it goes live. Now, let’s take a step back and remember that a post will always be seen on your grid. We are only referring to the feed here.

According to Instagram, if you have enough engagement early on after posting, they will release it to the rest of the 90%. The 10% that gets selected based on your most engaged followers and viewers. So, let’s say you have one hundred followers. Your post will first be released to your ten most engaged followers, and if they see your post and keep scrolling without engaging, there is no engagement counted and it’s less likely to show up elsewhere.


Since the original shift from Instagrams chronological feed, we now know that Instagrams algorithm is mainly based on engagement ranking. If your post gets plenty of engagement, this tells Instagram that your content is real, high quality that more people want to see.

What you can do:

Instagram rewards you for interacting with your followers so make sure your posts are engaging! Ask questions, post relatable content, run contests and start a conversation.

2. Respond quickly

If you do not respond to people that have engaged with your post within 60 minutes,  Instagram will start decreasing your visibility.

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Again, if your posts get a lot of engagement right off the bat, this signals to Instagram that your content is high quality.

What you can do:

We know there will be several occasions where you can’t respond to a post within an hour. Who even has the time for that? However, if you turn on your push notifications for Instagram, or rely on a social media professional to manage the engagement for you, you will have a much higher chance to responding within a specific time frame.

3. The type of engagement and responses you give matters

The rule has always been that if anyone likes or comments on your post, it will count as engagement. Not anymore. If a comment is three or fewer words, it does not count. That means if someone comments “nice!” or just leaves an emoji, it’s won’t count as engagement. One must write four words or more for it to be considered active engagement.


Have you noticed the influx of comments over the past year that are merely one word and somewhat meaningless? Examples of this are “Cool!” “Nice!” “Pretty!” 90% of the time those are bots commenting. Or, they are in fact real people, but they are likely commenting this on several users posts, which means the engagement is not meaningful. Instagrams goal is to steer clear of this type of engagement.

What you can do:

Lead by example and inform others. Take these new requirements to heart when you’re engaging with other accounts. Comment at least four words that you find meaningful and constructive! It is also important to inform others of these changes so they can consider them as they engage with your account and others.

4. Hashtags, hashtags and more hashtags.

Before the algorithm change, it was common to see upwards of thirty hashtags per post. If you do that now, Instagram will see that as spam, and you guessed it, your visibility will decrease, or you will become shadowbanned. (More on shadowbanning here!)


Have you ever searched for something under a hashtag, and felt overcrowded by the posts that use the same tag but are not relevant? Instagram wants to see a more refined hashtag experience for the user, ensuring that it is relevant to the actual content being posted.

What you can do: 

You should now have a more defined hashtag system, containing only five hashtags. These tags should be much more focused on what your post is about.

5. Instagram Stories

Instagram stories carry much more weight now than they did when they were first rolled out. If you use Instagram stories, your visibility will be much higher because Instagram sees that as organic growth and engagement.


A considerable part of all these changes was so Instagram could bring more visibility to the real, active accounts and decreased visibility towards the fake, empty, and bot accounts.

What you can do:

If you are consistently engaging with your community through stories, Instagram will notice. Instagram even said it themselves; they like stories the most because it keeps people coming back to the platform.

6. Don’t repeat hashtags

Another common practice before the algorithm change was to use the same hashtag bank repetitively. Now, if you use the same hashtags in consecutive posts, it will be seen as spam.


Again, Instagram is trying to refine its hashtag experience for users further.

What you can do:

By honing in on your hashtag focus like suggested in tip 4, you will have a much easier time meeting this requirement. Mix it up! Look for trending tags, but be relevant as well.

7. Content over comments

Have you ever noticed that some Instagram users put more hashtags in the comments of their posts? Instagram used to, but will no longer crawl the comments for tags to expand visibility for a post. In fact, now they will just skim right over it.


Anyone and everyone can continue to add more and more hashtags in the comments. This creates a lot of noise, and often the tags are spammy and irrelevant. Instagram will only take into consideration the tags in the body of the post because they will be considered more intentional.

What you can do:

Put your (five) hashtags in the actual body of your posts.

8. No edits!

Let’s say you posted a picture and made a typo in the caption or forgot to make ad a hashtag. It’s no longer a good idea to edit the post. In the current algorithm, Instagram sees making edits as a red flag and will decrease your visibility.


Now you know that engagement is key to ranking your posts in users feeds, hashtags, and explore pages. Every time you edit a post, Instagram resets your engagement ranking.

What you can do:

Delete the post altogether and repost with the corrections.

So why the big change?

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Before, Instagram was all about growth. Since they have grown exponentially, they are now shifting to a new kind of organic growth.  This means growth that is built by its users who are using the platform in meaningful, responsible and engaging ways. Their goal is to get away from all the fake accounts, and spam bots and make the platform a viable avenue for advertisers.

We’re sure you’re tired of all these changes to not only Instagram but most trending social media platforms. It’s hard to keep up – we get it! Social platforms need to be consistently updated to be monetized in some way, so it’s actually a good thing. But, as entrepreneurs, we understand how frustrating it can be. We post on Instagram to showcase our brand, and even if plenty of people are looking at it and liking it, it’s very rare that each follower is engaging within the guidelines. This is why it’s important to spread this information and inform other users.

Don’t worry; this is nothing close to the death of Instagram. This simply means that as users, and business owners we are just  going to have to do a little more work and really humanize our use of this platform.


Do you need help bringing your Instagram to the top? Reach out; we’re happy to chat!

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