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Does Your IG Feed Still Matter? A Look at Instagram's Latest Algorithm Twists

By Bianca Fleck

  • Instagram
  • Strategy
  • Content Production

Forget "follow for follow" and "like for like." The Instagram game has changed, and luxury hotels need a new playbook to stay ahead of the curve. But fear not, hoteliers, for this post, is your cheat sheet to navigating the new algorithm and showcasing your dazzling destinations to a captive audience.

So, the burning question: Does your meticulously curated feed still hold weight? 

According to Statista, 36.5% of travelers said they used social media to find travel inspiration or ideas. The trend is more prevalent among young travelers. About 60% of Generation Zers and 40% of Millennials report they use social media for travel purposes.

Many of these travelers might plan entire trips around specific destinations or activities they found on social media — especially if they saw it on their favorite influencer’s profile. Instagram and Facebook are especially influential platforms — 46% of Gen Z travelers say Instagram influences their travel decisions, while 50% say Facebook.

From Feed to Feature: The Algorithm Unveiled

Gone are the days of a single, monolithic Instagram algorithm. Today, it's a complex, ever-evolving beast with different ranking signals for each surface: Feed, Stories, Reels, and Explore. Think of it as a multifaceted jewel, each facet reflecting a different aspect of your brand.

  • Feed: Still your digital storefront, but its purpose has shifted. It's about reinforcing existing connections with your audience, showcasing the best of the best from your content library. Think of it as a curated highlight reel, not just a chronological timeline. The feed includes content from accounts you follow and new-to-you accounts the platform thinks you’ll like. The feed aims to get you caught up on the “best content published” since you last opened the app. Ranking signals include your past feed activity (including content formats and topics you tend to like), information about the post (like popularity and how other accounts have engaged with it), information about a given account (including how often they’ve posted recently and how others have engaged), past interactions with the author on all types of content.
  • Stories: The ephemeral playground where authentic, engaging content reigns supreme. Prioritize interactions and behind-the-scenes glimpses to build deeper bonds with your followers.  IG prioritizes content that’s most likely to make users engage (i.e., making informed guesses and serving you content from people that you consistently view stories from, your history of engaging with the account’s stories, the pattern of interactions of their other types of content, etc.). Stories include content from people you already follow, so it’s there to reinforce those connections with people and brands you already have a relationship with. 
  • Reels & Explore: This is the entertainment arena where freshness and virality are king (and queen). Experiment with video formats, collabs, and trending topics to reach new audiences and spark wanderlust. This part of the algorithm focuses on new-to-you accounts that Instagram thinks you’ll enjoy– primarily from an entertainment perspective. The algorithm considers how you’ll probably interact with the content based on past activity. When ranking Explore posts and reels, the algorithm considers how likely you are to like, save, or share a post based on your past activity.

Pros & Cons: Navigating the New Algorithm Landscape

Pros for Luxury Hotels:

  • Focus on Beautiful Content: Your stunning locations, opulent amenities, and unparalleled service are natural Instagram magnets. This algorithm plays to your strengths, rewarding high-quality visuals and engaging experiences.
  • Tap into Entertainment: Don't just showcase perfection; create immersive experiences through Reels featuring sunset cocktails, chef masterclasses, or spa treatments.
  • Reach New Audiences: Partner with influencers and experiment with trending topics to broaden your reach beyond existing followers.
  • Deeper Connections: Stories offer a platform for authenticity and interaction, fostering stronger bonds with your audience.

Types of content to favor: 

Video content still trumps all other content formats on IG!  Also, consider that Carousels receive the highest engagement rate (a key ranking signal in the algorithm). User-generated content remains one of the top-performing content formats and has become a must for the hospitality industry. UGC is a great way to find new, original content, serve as a testimonial of sorts, and provide a layer of authenticity to followers (i.e., usually unstaged, not professional or branded imagery). 

Cons to Consider:

  • Beyond the Feed: Success now requires mastery of multiple formats, not just a perfect feed.
  • Algorithm Nuances: Understanding the different ranking signals for each surface is crucial for targeted content creation.
  • Constant Adaptation: The algorithm is constantly evolving, so staying informed and flexible is key.
  • Authenticity Matters: Overly promotional content or inauthentic trends can backfire, so focus on genuine storytelling.

Types of content that are disadvantageous

Overly promotional content - users primarily want to be inspired and entertained. While content can occasionally be informational and promotional, we recommend saving these posts to stories or ads, which hold a clear CTA and link to book. Irrelevant trendy or viral posts that are inconsistent with the brand are viewed as “trying too hard”. For format, Landscape imagery is much easier to scroll past. Consider that 92.1% of internet usage happens on mobile phones. That means you want your content to take up as much vertical real estate as possible to engage users. 

Benefit or Bust? Why Luxury Reigns in the New Algorithm:

Good news! Your unique selling points are inherently Instagrammable. This algorithm rewards the very things that make your hotel special, providing fertile ground for creative and engaging content.

Think beyond the picture-perfect poolside pose. Create immersive experiences through Reels showcasing sunset cocktails on the rooftop, Michelin-starred chef masterclasses, or breathtaking spa treatments. Partner with influencers to offer unique perspectives and tap into their reach.

Remember:

  • Consistency still counts: Post regularly, but mix it up with formats and topics.
  • Analyze your insights: See what stories and Reels resonate most, then replicate their magic. Pinpoint what made them perform so well. For Reels, check to see which ones reached the most non-followers, which means it was likely served on the Explore or Reels feed. Through IG insights, you can see which posts of yours reached users from the Explore feed as well.
  • Entertain, don't just sell: Focus on creating captivating content, not just pushing promotions. Keep content creation top of mind to make your brand stand out– this includes creating original content and creating content that resonates with your audience.
  • Encourage "Favorites": Get your most loyal fans to add you to their "Close Friends" list for prime feed placement.

Luxe Inspiration: Hotels Crushing the Algorithm Game

So, is your Instagram feed still relevant? Absolutely. It's just evolved into a multi-faceted platform demanding more strategic content and a deeper understanding of your audience's desires. Embrace the change, unleash your creativity, and watch your luxury haven shine on Instagram's ever-shifting sands.

Bianca Fleck
About the Author

Bianca Fleck

Senior Account Executive

Bianca, currently serving as the Manager of Operations at BCV, boasts a tenure of over five years with the company. Throughout her time, she has contributed significantly to client services and specialized in cultivating partnerships with prominent hotel and resort brands. Functioning as a vital link between daily operations and overarching objectives, Bianca has a proven track record of building substantial client connections. Her expertise lies in seamlessly connecting the realms of creativity and analytics, facilitating effective collaboration within teams.

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