Instagram Algorithm: How Does It Affect You?

Instagram Algorithm - Harness Digital Marketing

What You Need To Know About the Instagram Algorithm

On Tuesday, March 15th, Instagram (owned by Facebook) decided to adopt the model that Facebook uses and implement an algorithm to filter all the massive content you receive in your feed daily. If you are like me and like #craftbeer, then maybe you will see more photos of unique and interesting craft beers in your feed. On that same note, if you are NOT a cat lover, hopefully you will see less or NO cats in your feed (we can only hope). This move to implement an Instagram Algorithm isn’t necessarily to better monetize their product, but to create a more genuine and engaging experience for the user. The plus to having more engaged users means that you and I will spend more time on Instagram. The more time we spend there, the more time we can see a paid/sponsored ad.

I find it amusing when any of the social media platforms that people use (addictively) makes the slightest change to how we interact with it, people go CRAZY. After all, they are a business and employ thousands of people and answer to a board. Making money is the American Dream and that doesn’t exclude social media-based businesses. In the history of social media apps, there has only been one epic fail (In my opinion). That was when Foursquare broke itself into two apps (Foursquare and Swarm).

To make the changes a little more simple to understand, I have answered four questions from some of my followers about this change:

What Does This Mean For Businesses?

The short and simple answer is NOTHING…as long as you create unique, engaging, and creative content. The sky is not falling and this new update to Instagram could make your experience more enjoyable and relevant to what your interests are. One of my former students that I taught in 5th grade recently started her own business, Emprints Studios on Etsy. Her Instagram feed is filled with her work, her, and the right targeted hashtags. I am excited to say that she is doing very well and continues to grow her business. Instagram opened up a whole new world and market for her. Why? Because she put herself and her product out there.


How Can I Create Better Content So My Instagram Engagement Doesn’t Go Down?

This goes along with what I talked about above: have great content. Great content is driven by what your audience enjoys and likes to see. Typically in the past, motivational images, pets, and kids do very well. However, for a business, you need to tell your story to the right people and potential people that are interested in seeing your journey. One of my favorite Instagram feeds belongs to Mom’s Little Running.


I know that I’m not the demographic she is going for, but she does a great job on her content (both images and text).  With a following of her size and the engagement she gets, the Instagram algorithm will have little or no effect on her account. Check her out and let her know @iTomHarness sent you her way – iSmile.

Should I Look At Another Platform Other Than Instagram?

One of my team members, Harley Crawshaw, recently did an article about this question. It really comes down to your audience and goals. Are you selling a SERVICE or a PRODUCT? Check out Harley’s blog post for more insight into that, but let’s look at this question from the recent changes to Instagram. The short answer is: NO. Instagram has 400 million active users worldwide and 75 million in the US. Why would you not want to get your product or service in front of that many people? Instagram is no different than any other social media. You have to know who your audience is and where they are. You are not going to sell or brand a forklift on Instagram, but you could build a brand or a person that utilizes forklifts for their job (construction).

Do I Need To Have Video On My Instagram Page?

There are many reasons to have videos on ALL of your social media platforms. 60% of online users prefer video over text. That statistic alone should tell you that you need to invest more time in videos, especially if you don’t currently use it for your content. The video content is just as important. Nobody wants to watch a cat sleep for 30 minutes on YouTube (I am sure you will find a video to prove me wrong). Instagram allows 3 to 15-second videos. What can you create with that amount of time? Can it be engaging? Will it bring people back to watch? I recently had the opportunity to see Dr. Dan the Pancake Man at the SI Mens Expo and he was fantastic. His page is a mix of time-lapse videos, music and creative pancakes. I always want to see him do something unique, challenging, or just fun.


Thanks to those who submitted questions and go check out the great Instagram feeds from the people featured in this blog. If you have questions about social media, let me know.

Tom Harness | @iTomHarness | Snapchat: tharness | 314-884-1192 |


About Tom Harness

Tom Harness is the owner of Harness Digital Marketing, a digital marketing firm that works with businesses and organizations on Social Media, SEO, and Email Marketing. He is an entrepreneur and business owner with 20 years of combined experience in Education, IT, and Business. Tom is a U.S. Army Veteran and a Southern Illinois University alum. He also enjoys craft beers, his beloved Chicago Cubs, and his family.


  1. Great article! I thinks it’s important to note that Facebook is user-centric, meaning that it develops the experience for the user, rather than for the advertiser. They realize that without all of their billions of users, they have no platform for people like us to advertise on. I don’t see this approach changing anytime soon. The neat thing is that we grow with these social media platforms and we can alter our efforts accordingly. Like I said, great article. You are right about creating engaging content. That is the only way to really stand out and be noticed.

    • Jan, Thanks for reading and your input. The only way to truly get value in these growing social media platforms is to make the experience for the user, one that they want. I sometimes say that these algorithms are put into place to protect us from ourselves (iSmile). That being said, I understand where some people want the freedom to choose their own content and not have someone or some “number” tell them.

Leave a Reply