Recruiters! It’s Time to Use the Instagram Algorithm to Hire

Instagram is the second most used social media platform in the U.S. and has been growing steadily since the app's debut in 2010. With over 500 million users and ample opportunity for brand exposure, marketers of all kinds have fallen in love with Instagram's capabilities. And, just when we thought we’d figured out the best way to engage our target audiences, the social network made our marketing strategy even easier!
In an effort to increase transparency, Instagram has unleashed their algorithm and everyone is taking notes. Calling all recruiters…this information could help you find your next hire.

The "Big Three"

Instagram breaks down the algorithm into three key factors: Interest, Timeliness, and Relationship.


1. Interest - Using image recognition technology, the algorithm tracks the types of posts you regularly engage with. It works similarly to a hashtag in the sense that the more you engage with a certain type of post (for instance, the more you use the same hashtag) the more the algorithm thinks you’re interested in a specific topic/brand/follower, thus prioritizing these kinds of posts on your News Feed. For example, if you follow 25 different puppy accounts, like 30 puppy pictures a day, and tag your friends in any puppy post you see, you can safely assume that Instagram will prioritize by feeding up videos like this:


How will this help your recruitment strategy? It will pull in the right candidates the first time! The interest factor is all about engagement. Simply create compelling content that will draw in your target audience. The more they click, comment, like, and tag, the more they will regularly see your content. Recruiters, keep up your social media calendar and routinely put out content your audience can relate too, even when you’re not hiring. Then the next time you’re searching, you’ll attract the applicants you’re looking for!

2. Timeliness - When Instagram debuted in 2010, the feed was sorted in a reverse-chronological fashion. Though it’s still not back to its original roots (bummer, right?), the algorithm does take into account that people want to see timely posts when they log in. By prioritizing recent posts, your feed should filter out the majority of posts sent out over a week ago. 

How will this help your recruitment strategy? Timeliness seems to be centered around understanding your target audience. When are they logging on? What time should you post so that it's "recent" to your followers? To get the right users to engage, you have to get them while they are scrolling.

Do they work full-time? Post around dinner time. Are they early risers? Send it out at 8 am. Do some digging, conduct some research. Timeliness is key to captivating the applicants your company wants.

3. Relationship - Building relationships is hard… Right Allie?


Good thing Instagram gave us the secret to forming them! The more often you and another user interact, the more often you will see their content. Sounds easy, right? If you master the interest and timeliness factors, nailing the relationship should be a piece of cake. 

How will this help recruitment strategy? What’s better than hiring a candidate you already have a relationship with? This is arguably the most important factor. The more often your target audience is exposed to your content and the more relatable it is, the more comfortable they will be in applying for the next open position. Start to build these relationships early. You never know when the right person is looking for their next career opportunity.

Other Factors to Consider...

We’ve already determined that Interest, Timeliness, and Relationship are the three main factors in the Instagram algorithm, but unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The algorithm also incorporates three other secondary signals to decipher what posts are readily displayed on your feed. The secondary or what we like to call, "B team" factors include Frequency, Following, and Usage.

1. Frequency - How often are your followers opening Instagram? Multiple times a day? Once a day? Once a week? Believe it or not, this matters. If your audience consists of avid “scrollers,” they are consistently being fed new content. If your audience only hops online periodically, they’ll likely collect outdated posts in their feeds. You do not want to miss when your followers are online.

2. Following - Here’s a redundant question for you - how many accounts do your followers follow? 


The fewer users you follow, the less information the algorithm has to work with and the more accounts you follow, the more content there is to utilize. That being said, if you follow thousands of people, you won’t see as many posts from any one user. Following behavior speaks to the kind of Instagram user they are. You’ll want to pick up on the following count of your target audience because the more accounts they follow the more strategic you’ll need to be!

3. Usage - How do your followers use Instagram? Are they the “open and click around” type? Do they typically stay on their own feed or venture to the explore page? Are they passive “scrollers” or do they engage with posts by liking/commenting/tagging? These are important questions to consider when it comes to the placement of your post within your audiences feed. 

Remember, the algorithm is working to prioritize your feed. It will use both the Frequency and Usage signals you give it to top-load your feed and pages with what it believes you want to see most. How your audience is using the app is a crucial element that will dictate your posting time and solidify the digital relationship.


We are well into the age of social media - an era which evidently, is here to stay. As recruitment marketers, we can't ignore the fact that social media, Instagram in particular, is one of the best resources for finding talent. They've given us the tools, now it’s our responsibility to apply them. Instead of letting your next star employee pass you by, use the algorithm to your advantage when working on the next hiring campaign. 

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