How musicians can beat the Instagram algorithm – according to Instagram

Want more followers and likes on your music Instagram? The social network has revealed secrets behind the Instagram algorithm to better explain how the app works.

Instagram has offered a glimpse behind the social media curtain into how the app functions, in a blog post aiming to explain a little more about how the Instagram algorithm works.

The post addresses the average user – but if you’re a musician or producer wondering how to get more likes on Instagram, and better engagement with your artist account, it’s a useful read. How does Instagram decide what posts show up first? Why do some Insta posts get more likes than others?

Instagram uses more than one algorithm to personalise the app to each user. Explore, Feed and Stories, and Reels each has its own algorithm.


Feed and Stories

The Feed and Stories are, according to Instagram, where people want to interact with their closest friends. Posts by followed accounts appear ranked according to “signal” information – things like what was posted by who and when, what time it is, and whether you’re viewing on mobile.

Instagram makes predictions of how likely you are to interact with any given post. That’s based on how popular a post is, location, how long the video is, how often you’ve interacted with that person, your activity, comments on each other’s posts, and other factors.

“Big moments” such as viral news and sports events make it more likely for Stories that are re-shared straight from the Feed to be favoured by the algorithm. Also, if you lie and post misinformation lots of times, Instagram will make your content harder to find. So don’t make bold unverified claims about your streaming numbers or about other artists, for example.


Reels

Reels mostly features accounts you don’t follow – another opportunity for your posts to reach more users. The Reels section is designed to entertain, so predictions are made like how likely you are to watch the whole reel, like it, and go to the audio page. Instagram wants you to make your own content, so it’s going to show you reels it thinks will inspire you.

Information within the reel, such as audio track, are “signals” to Instagram. Once you’ve made your own music available on Instagram through a distributor like RouteNote, the more that track is used the more people will be shown the reels.

Beware of reusing TikTok videos – Reels may be eerily similar to TikTok, but Instagram punishes users who post reels with a TikTok watermark by pushing them down the algorithm.


Explore

Instagram’s Explore is for discovering new stuff, so the grid is full of recommendations based on posts you’ve previously liked and commented on. How many likes, shares, saves and comments a post gets, and how quickly, pushes it up the Explore rankings.

SEO is always important on social media – hashtags get your account in front of users searching for that subject, and once they interact with your post it might appear to their followers too. Saves are also being pushed by Instagram recently, so if you can convince followers to save your post about your new band tour, that might boost your presence on Explore.


You can read the whole blog post here, with more information about how to influence who appears to you on the app. Gaming the Instagram algorithm isn’t easy. The blog post is also useful if you’re building a follow list – who does Instagram recommend that you follow? Are you showing up for them too?

A major fact about social media for musicians and producers is that you are rewarded by the apps if you use them a lot. So keep the social media gods happy by carrying on posting and promoting your music, and you should see your Instagram engagement go up.


Want your music on Instagram Stories and Reels? RouteNote offers free music distribution to stores and streaming services, and also lets you make your tracks available on social networks like Instagram and TikTok for free. You make money every time your song is used in a video. Find out more about RouteNote and get started here.

I write about music for RouteNote, sharing fun stuff, news, and tips and tricks for musicians and producers. Also a saxophonist and hater of marmalade.

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