What Is The Instagram Algorithm And How It Works

What’s the secret behind the Instagram algorithm? If you are here, the chances are that you have been wondering either a) what is the Instagram algorithm or b) how does the Instagram algorithm work. 

Well, I have good news for you! This article will answer all your questions, enabling you to finally figure out the mechanism behind all your activity on Instagram.

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Source: Unsplash

For better understanding, the article is broken down into 5 parts:

  1. Instagram Algorithm for Feed Posts
  2. Instagram Algorithm for Instagram Stories 
  3. Instagram Algorithm for the Explore Page
  4. Instagram Algorithm for IGTV Videos and Reels
  5. Ways to Improve Instagram Algorithm

Since Instagram tends to behave mysteriously at times, it is important for you to take into account some of the insights we discuss today. Once you have a better knowledge of how everything works, you can easily improve your content strategy and boost the growth of your brand on Instagram.

Without further ado, let’s get started! 

Instagram Algorithm for Feed Posts

Your feed posts are the square images that appear on your Instagram timeline. The Instagram algorithm for feed posts takes into account six key factors:

1. Interest

The Instagram algorithm is very interesting. Not only does it care about the kind of accounts you follow, but also the kind of content you have liked in the past. Your interests, therefore, are taken into account when considering which posts to show on your feed. 

In order for a post to appear higher up in your feed, Instagram needs to think that you are certain to like it. That will only happen if you have liked similar posts in the past. Your interests – whether they come in the form of likes, comments, saves, or tags, will all act as guidance for Instagram to understand what to show you. 

For online businesses, this means that the more active you are and the more you give your audience the chance to interact with your posts, the better chances you have of making your presence more prominent. That’s why engagement is key!

2. Relationship

Your relationship with people that you are close to and the accounts that you really care about is prioritized by the Instagram algorithm. How the Instagram algorithm works in this regard is that it uses your interaction on the app as a means of establishing who you are the closest to. Based on that, the algorithm then shows you what you really, really want to see. 

While we don’t have any official information regarding how Instagram does this, there is a theoretical consensus between experts that the Instagram algorithm decides who you are the closest to based on a number of activities. For example, it analyzes the content that you like as well as the people you direct message and the people you search for!

3. Timeliness

Engagement is not the only important thing you need to keep in mind while using Instagram for business. The Instagram algorithm also takes into account how long ago a post was made! In fact, we can go as far as to say that the Instagram algorithm really cares about when something is being posted. 

4. Frequency

The Instagram algorithm also takes into account how frequently users scroll through the app. This way, it can show users the best posts since their last visit to the app. If you are someone who uses the app very regularly, then you are likely to see these posts in chronological order. 

5. Following

Of course, the number of people you follow on Instagram ultimately have a bearing on the Instagram algorithm. If there a lot of people you’re following, Instagram will have to dig through all those accounts and show you the best and the most relevant ones. 

Also, for businesses, it is important to ensure that they are not following a lot of inactive accounts! The reason behind this being that inactive and “ghost” accounts have an adverse impact on the algorithm.

6. Usage

Lastly, Instagram cares about the usage of your account. If you are always on the app, then you are likely to see more posts! The more you use your account, the deeper and further Instagram goes to fetch the kind of things you would like. 

Instagram Algorithm for Instagram Stories

The Instagram stories that appear at the start of your feed are generally from the accounts that you interact with the most. So, all of your engagement with a particular account; for example likes, comments, story views, reactions, and DMs – all go towards establishing this aspect of the stories.

In addition, like feed posts, Instagram Stories also consider timeliness as a factor for the algorithm. The entire point of Instagram Stories is to keep the users in the loop with the latest updates from the people they follow, and hence it the algorithm really goes the extra mile to ensure that it’s always giving you the latest updates. 

Therefore, the pages that post a lot and consistently get way more recognition by the Instagram algorithm. So, the key to mastering Instagram stories is to post a lot!

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Source: Unsplash

Instagram Algorithm for the Explore Page

The feed and the Explore page algorithm work in a very similar way. They both are geared towards presenting content that you are likely to be more interested in based on your previous activity on the app.

However, there is one small distinction. Whereas the Instagram feed only operates using the content from your followers, the Explore shows you exciting content from accounts that you don’t follow. 

In short, the entire purpose of the Explore page is to connect you with accounts you are likely to be interested in, but don’t follow yet. It is a dynamic part of the app that keeps changing, showing new topics, categories, and keywords. 

What this suggests is that the Explore page algorithm also takes into consideration your captions, the theme of your account, and visual content. This is a great thing for accounts that are just starting out, because it means that you don’t have to worry about the number of followers or likes you get. Instead, you get to focus on putting out amazing content that attracts different groups of people and then watch that get you the results that you need. 

The Instagram Algorithm for IGTV Videos and Reels

For IGTV videos and Reels too, Instagram focuses on the accounts you engage with the most! Not only that, but it also takes a look at the type of posts you are more likely to engage with generally as well. 

Essentially, based on your activity in the feed, Instagram decides what to suggest to you for IGTV videos and Reels. The best way to ensure that they get the attention they deserve, share snippets and previews of your IGTV videos and Reels on your feed and stories! 

Ways to Improve Instagram Algorithm

In case you haven’t been able to figure it out yet, the Instagram algorithm is a very smart piece of AI. In order for you to make a presence on Instagram, you have to not only survive all the twists and turns of the Instagram algorithm, but also outsmart them. 

To help you, we have compiled this list of best practices that will help you evolve your IG account and take it to the next level. 

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Source: Unsplash

1. Post photos daily

If you want to grow your account and beat the algorithm at its own game; you must focus on posting on Instagram every single day. Not only does that keep your followers interested, but it also gives the algorithm a fresh stream of content to pick from! 

You don’t have to be pumping out professional photos all the time, either! Anything will work, as long as it is relevant enough for you followers to engage with it. There are a lot of people out there who are always on Instagram, so do your best to target them and appease them. 

If you cannot post daily, then you might want to come with a regular posting schedule. The key for that would be not just to craft that schedule, but also to stick to it! Also, aim for posting at least 3 times a week.

2. Post Reels

The Reels feature is a relatively new feature on Instagram, and users love it! In general, videos tend to do better than pictures since they are a form of storytelling. Therefore, they tend to do better with your audience! Not only do they make the audience feel connected to you, but they also allow you to create a certain image for your account amongst your viewers. 

So – post Reels! Post reels at least 3 times a week. That might sound like too much, but again, you don’t have to do anything crazy or fancy or out of the blue. Just basic videos giving a glimpse into your life or your surroundings could do wonders. 

Reels get way more attention than any other sort of post, so you definitely need to do this. 

3. Reply to dms 

Posting and being active on the feed is not enough. In order to take your account to the next level and ensure that the Instagram algorithm really registers you as an active page, you must also reply to dms!

Yes – you heard that right. Ignoring the messages in your inbox isn’t the best way to go about things anymore. When your followers text you, respond! This will show your followers that you care and will tell the Instagram algorithm that you are a well-engaged account. 

You can reply to all your Instagram messages from your phone, or even from your desktop! The unified Pages inbox on Facebook can also be a great way of making sure that you are always in touch with the people who take out the time to text you and interact with you. 

4. Reply to comments

Just like dms, you must reply to the comments under your posts too. The more interaction you have with other people on the app, the more Instagram will establish your account as an attention-worthy aspect for the algorithm. 

Not only that, but when your followers feel that you acknowledge their efforts to interact with you, they will be even further encouraged to talk to you and leave comments on your post. You get to build a meaningful connection with the people around you, all while making important changes to your account!

5. Turn on post notifications

Yes, you want your followers to turn on the post notifications for your posts, but are you willing to do the same for yours? As unreal as it sounds, keeping in touch with accounts that post similar content to yours can help you build a sense of community, generate engagement, and collaboratively grow on the app. 

6. Maintain a theme

This one might seem like a shot in the dark, but it can actually help you expand your presence! Instagram relies heavily upon visual appeal. The more aesthetically pleasing your account is the more attention, engagement, and value you can get out of it. All of that means that your ranking on the algorithm will improve. 

My suggestion is to figure out a theme for your account, and then tailor the rest of your content in accordance with that. When your followers look at your account, you want them to instantly click with it, and that is only possible if you work on making it look good. 

The Bottom Line

Years ago, Instagram merely started as a means of entertainment amongst friends and family. However, today, it is an all-purpose portal of everything, from marketing to eCommerce business. Therefore, it deserves a lot more attention from you and must be dealt with strategically. 

Luckily for you, there are tons of people who have already researched enough to understand what the Instagram algorithm is and how it works. The insights we have shared with you today will really help you take your Instagram strategy to the next level. 

So, what are you waiting for? Log in to Instagram, and conquer it!

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