What Instagram Likes (and Hates) – 30th August 2022 Guidelines Update

Space Rocket
Written by: Ian Haponiev (Content Specialist at Vision Effect)

Instagram have just published (on the 30th August 2022) their latest guidelines for content creators looking to find their way onto the recommended sections on their app, i.e. the main feed, explore section and reels.

These best practices are a comprehensive guide of the dos and don’ts that you absolutely must follow if you want to keep the Insta algorithm sweet and become an account that gets recommended regularly. The punishment for falling foul of Instagram’s recommended content guidelines is an account that will struggle to grow on the platform and in all likelihood, fade into obscurity.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that Instagram and indeed all social media sites have one ultimate goal in common – to keep users on their application or website for as long as possible. Of the roughly 4.7 billion people that use social media, the average person spends almost 2 and a half hours per day on various platforms, which are all competing for as much of their time as possible.

Instagram, YouTube and Facebook have no doubt looked on with envy at the figures that TikTok have put up in recent years. Not only has it been the platform with the largest growth over this time period, it also boasts the longest time that the average user spends on the app at 91 minutes.

All three of these platforms have made efforts to tap into this market with features that mimic TikTok’s signature style of short videos. YouTube has ‘Shorts’, Facebook has ‘Watch’ and Instagram has “Reels”.

When a social media app implements a new feature, they will often prioritise content creators who make use of it and their algorithm will push their content to the front of the queue. It will always pay off to be ahead of the curve when it comes to new features because your account can get a lot more reach in at least the short term, regardless of whether these features are a long term success or not.

If you’re reading this blog, the likelihood is that you’re a business owner and wondering how this impacts you and the way that you utilise social media. The key takeaway from this is that the more you understand how the algorithm works, the better informed you will be when it comes to what content your business can create to reach people.

Instagram doesn’t want to give too much of the game away by telling creators exactly what to do but it seems that there is a lot of information to be gleaned from what they recommend not to do.

Let’s kick things off by looking at what Instagram recommend:

Firstly, it’s vital to post content that’s both of the requisite quality, length (if video) and is original. IG explicitly states that they want “video content that can be viewed full-screen and vertically. This means using high-resolution, 9×16 vertical videos with no borders, where text does not cover the majority of the screen.”.

They go on to say that reel content should be 90 seconds or less, stating that content that exceeds this time limit will not be recommended. Don’t repost or republish any of your old material, avoid posting things that are overly similar and do not post other people’s content.

Next, make extensive use of reels. Instagram is pushing this heavily, so make hay while the sun shines. Build your content around the use of reels in order to have as much chance of being recommended as possible.

Thirdly, optimise your content for search. If you want your content to be discoverable, only use captions and hashtags that are directly relevant to your posts. Insta also stipulates that hashtags should be in the captions and not the comments, so listen to them and act accordingly. It is also recommended that your handle/profile name and bio includes descriptive keywords about who you are and your usual content.

Finally, posts that do well are ones that are interacted with quickly and positively. Instagram looks at how fast a post is commented on, shared or saved and the quicker the better. IG also reminds creators that they have implemented quality controls into their app, allowing people to give feedback on posts; if somebody selects that they’re not interested in your content, then that’s bad news for your chances of recommendation.

Now, onto the rather more exhaustive list of what Instagram is telling you not to do:

From an ecommerce perspective, some of these are highly unlikely to apply to your business, but for the sake of reference, it’s best to know.

First up, IG states that any “content that impedes our ability to foster a safe community” will not be eligible for recommendations and will likely be removed. This includes:

  • Content that includes self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, violence will be removed, as will sexually explicit or suggestive posts.
  • Posts promoting tobacco products, vaping, “adult products or services” and pharmaceutical drugs.
  • “Sensitive or low-quality content about health or finance”, including cosmetic procedures, content with products with dubious “miracle cure” health claims, weight-loss supplements, or misleading business models (e.g. alleged pyramid schemes).
  • Content that users generally don’t like, such as clickbait, engagement bait or posts promoting a contest or giveaway.
  • False or misleading content. E.g. facts refuted by independent fact checking organisations, vaccine misinformation or posts concerning the production of false documents (e.g. posts trying to sell fake IDs).

If you do post content of that nature and it is flagged and removed, then there’s a good chance that your account will be considered ‘non-recommendable’. Frankly speaking, this is a disaster for individuals or businesses looking to expand the reach of their content, as unsurprisingly, non-recommendable accounts will not ever be recommended content.

Accounts can also become non-recommendable if: they have been found to be building a following in a misleading way (such as purchasing likes), have been banned from running ads on the platform, are associated with offline movements or organisations linked to violent activity or simply because they have violated the community guidelines repeatedly.

TL;DR? If you’re a savvy business owner looking to expand your social media presence and reach on Instagram, it’s time to get into reels in a big way. Make sure you play by their rules as we’ve mentioned above in terms of length (90 seconds or shorter), quality, size (9×16 vertical videos) and the community guidelines.

If you’ve not got the time or need assistance with managing your social media accounts and campaigns, contact us today and let us help you boost your business.