Instagram Algorithm Updates January 2018
I can’t turn around without someone saying… my posts are tanking… or others saying … best week ever!
Instagrammers are panicking and “experts” are responding.
I’m starting to see a lot of blog articles, you tube videos, posts getting circulated about the algorithm changes.
Why I Never Believe These Articles – There’s no Data to Support it and It Doesn’t Come from a Reputable Source
None of these articles are from Instagram itself. These are just loosely based hypothesis being passed around. They come from well meaning people trying to find logic for why visibility is decreasing. And the villain in the story – you guessed it is ..the Algorithm.
It’s easier to blame the “big bad monster” I.e. the Algorithm than to look for other reasons. And if you understand storytelling and marketing psychology … establishing a villain … also establishes the person delivering the message as the hero to save the day.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind.
- Instagram is only 7 (going on 8) years old
- The only data Instagram provide us are impressions, reach, profile views, website clicks, email clicks, and some analytics about our followers.
- In any given analysis, the study should provide some hard data. As in, we analyzed a cross section of 10,000 posts and here are our findings. If the study can back up their findings through data – I’m apt to listen.
- Or … another way to back up a study is to conduct A/B testing. Something along the lines of – we did a study over the past 3 months, where we uploaded the same content over a variety of accounts, to test performance based on the number and placement of hashtags. Now…. if they have actually “proven” out their hypothesis then I’m apt to listen.
- Let’s take a look at a different platform that uses algorithms. Google is 19 years old. A whole new industry has sprung up around understanding how to better rank on Google. This practice is called Search Engine Optimization. And SEO pros know that any findings have to be backed by data so that they can make “data driven recommendations”.
- I’m not seeing those kind of data driven recommendations for Instagram. Simply put the platform is too new and technical analysts have yet to emerge.
Official Algorithm Updates are always announced
Google, Facebook (who owns Instagram) and Instagram will always announce major updates to the algorithm.
So whenever I see an article claiming they know what the algorithm updates are – I always go to source. And last I checked, the last major update was when Instagram announced in March of 2016 that the feed was shifting from non chronological to what we have today.
The Engineers Would Never Give Away the Keys to Their Kingdom
There’s something we ALL need to accept – and that is – NONE of us outside of Instagram will ever be told how the algorithm works. It’s absolute lunacy to think that anyone outside of their engineering department would explain this to the detail that I’m seeing others claim to know.
So anyone that tells you “Put the hashtags in the comments” or “Put the hashtags in the captions” or “Use 5 hashtags” vs “Use 30 hashtags” as the standard – should be able to say these are data driven recommendations based on analyzing 10,000 accounts over a period of 3 months (or something like that).
Now – it’s not to say you can’t try some of these recommendations; all I’m saying is don’t take them as truth. Apply your own testing and measure the results. And make your own data driven decisions.
So stop blaming the Algorithm
So let’s all make an agreement to never worry about the algorithm again because it’s out of our hands. Let’s move our conversation to what we DO know and what comes from Instagram’s business blog