Instagram has been following TikTok’s lead when it comes to AI-led discovery for some time now, but it’s yet to release guidance for brands and marketers on how to make the most of that (which it calls Recommendations).
Well, now we’re all in luck because Insta’s Head, Adam Mosseri, has shed some light on the matter via one of his famous videos.
What is Instagram Recommendations and why does it matter?
But before we dig into the nitty gritty, a quick overview of Recommendations and why they matter is required to provide context to the news. Let’s hand over to Instagram for that one.
“To create more opportunities for discovery, we’ve been adding recommendations (content from accounts that you don’t follow) to more places. This includes feeds where, like within Reels and Explore, recommendations are personalised to your interests.”
Basically, Recommendations is a big rip-off of TikTok’s For You page, where artificial intelligence serves up video after video from accounts you may not follow, but it has determined you will like. It’s the whole reason the app is taking over the world.
The good news is that if you create some content that really strikes a chord with your audience, the chances that it’ll be discovered organically and shared are a whole lot higher – which is a brilliant outcome for marketers.
What’s the point of Recommendations?
Instagram wants people to discover more creators on Instagram and to do that, it’s developed Recommendations.
“You’ll see (Recommendations) in Feed, Explore and Reels tab. The idea behind recommendations is to help people discover amazing creators on Instagram that they don’t even know about yet.”
As always, Instagram’s decisions aren’t driven by charity. The hope is that people will spend more time on the platform due to Recommendations and that the reach for the average creator will increase. If that happens, it can claw back some ground it lost to TikTok.
Mosseri also said he wanted to shift reach from content aggregators to creators and particularly small creators and that Instagram wants to be a platform where more people can make a living in the long run.
If that all comes off, marketers could find that Instagram becomes a place worth investing in – in terms of partnerships with brand ambassadors and owned content. Engagement, reach and return on investment could all go up, so keep an eye on how things develop.
This is how Instagram recommendations work
Recommendations are based on a number of signals from each individual:
- How many and how quickly other people are liking content.
- How many shares and saves a post has.
- A person’s interaction history with the account that posted the content.
- Other posts a person has liked or commented on.
There will also be controls extended to individuals, who can tell Instagram if they’re not interested in someone or if they’d prefer not to see sensitive content.
Get eligible for Recommendations now!
For a start, only public accounts are eligible for Recommendations. Once you’ve ticked that box, you need to make sure you follow Instagram’s Recommendation Guidelines (content in violation of them includes violence, content that promotes regulated products like tobacco and sexually explicit content).
Next up, make sure you adhere to Community Guidelines. You can read what they are here, but in a nutshell:
- Only share content you own or have the right to share.
- Post appropriate photos or videos.
- Follow the law.
- Respect other Instagram users.
Here’s Instagram’s Recommendations best practices
Okay, now we’re on to the good stuff. Here are Instagram’s best practices. Follow them and your chance of being recommended will increase.
- Post original content and avoid re-uploading your Reels or aggregating content. If you’re working with someone else, make sure to use the Collabs feature or enhanced tags. In his video, Mosseri warned that Insta will come down firmer on aggregators and will be more generous with original content creators.
- Be engaging! Keep your Reel short (under 90 seconds), make sure your video is made for full-screen and vertically, pull the viewer in within three seconds and do not recycle content.
- Use relevant keywords. Make sure your handle or profile name is related to your posts and use the right hashtags (yes they still matter, but only a couple!) and keywords in your caption. According to Mosseri, captions are key and accounts that add context to your photo or video will do better in the long run.
- Don’t ignore Insta insights. These can tell you where you’re going right and where you’re going wrong, so you can make data-driven decisions that help you hit your targets.