Instagram’s Algorithm Changes June 2018

Julian Pawley, June 6, 2018

Ding, ding, ding! We have another update on the Instagram algorithm. And this one was long-awaited (hey, two weeks can seem like foreverrrr when your social media engagement is cut in half.)

So, what’s the scoop? Since the last update we shared, Instagram’s product lead Julian Gutman explained to Tech Crunch and other publications that the new algorithm relies on three factors:

  1. Interest – How much Instagram thinks you’ll care about a post, based on your past actions on similar posts. The more interest, the higher the post will show in the feed.
  2. Recency – The newer the post, the more prominence it receives.
  3. Relationship – In an effort to prioritize posts from friends and family, Instagram claims that posts from those who you’ve interacted with the most will appear higher in the news feed.

Pretty simple, right? Not so much. Here are some other factors taken into consideration, according to Gutman:

  • How often you open the app, with new posts appearing each time you do.
  • How many people you follow, with users who follow a large number of users seeing less of particular accounts, while those who follow few accounts will see less of a variety.
  • How much time you spend on Instagram. If your sessions are short, you’ll see only the most relevant posts. For longer sessions, Instagram digs a little deeper to show you more posts, even those it considers to be less relevant.

This all sounds pretty straightforward, and like what an efficient algorithm is supposed to do. But that’s what has us social media managers a little skeptical: If the algorithm prioritizes posts from accounts we care about, then why are some of our engaged followers suddenly not seeing our posts? Things got even more questionable when Instagram addressed some “rumors” about how the platform works, stating the rumors are most definitely not real, even though I have most definitely experienced many of these situations myself … more than once or twice.


Instagram: Shadowbanning is not a real thing.

Me: Except when I search for specific hashtags, such as #easter, all recent posts are hidden. Instagram even has a disclaimer about this on the hashtag’s page.

Look, I am 100% onboard with banning certain hashtags that have been abused, especially if Instagram informs its community on what hashtags are banned (that’s not happening right now, but Reddit saves the day). What I am not okay with is when my accounts get shadowbanned even though I follow Instagram’s best practices and community guidelines, and use only relevant hashtags. When I can see for myself that my posts do not show up in “recent” posts on a specific hashtag’s search, that tells me shadowbanning is, in fact, real, and therefore I declare Instagram’s statement FAKE NEWS.


Instagram: If you keep scrolling, you’ll see posts from everyone you follow.

Me: I don’t mean to brag, but I literally get paid to be on Instagram so I spend a lot of time scrolling, and some of the people I follow are never in my feed.

What Instagram is trying to say here is that everyone is visible to their followers, but my newly established accounts are not exactly thriving on day 1, 2 or even 3. Generating engagement takes a lot of time and effort from our team. So Instagram, don’t even try to play that.

Other (more believable) claims from Instagram that we’re still testing:

  • The algorithm doesn’t favor videos, Stories, or Live over regular photo posts.
  • Personal accounts do not get more visibility than business accounts.

What JEMSU is Doing

Our team spends a generous amount of time testing, monitoring and analyzing our content and its frequency to gather information and adjust accordingly. We want our clients to see real engagement from users who are interested in their posts. What we never do is any black or grey hat tactics, such as engaging in Instagram pods, using bots, or misspelling a caption in an effort to get more engagement from users correcting in the comments. (Seriously, that’s a real thing.)

If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with us. We would be more than happy to help!


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