Instagram Algorithm

Overview

The Instagram algorithm determines what content gets seen. So it is necessary to understand the basic principles at play. Knowing the Instagram algorithm is the key to having a successful account.

It's also worth knowing that the Instagram algorithms change from time to time, and we do our best to keep this framework updated.

In a nutshell, the Instagram algorithm is the set of regulations that govern how far your content may reach organically.

Takeaway skills

  • Basics of the Instagram algorithm
  • Key signals to keep in mind
  • How to work with the latest Instagram algorithm

We’ll cover the following:

  1. How does the Instagram algorithm work?
  2. What are the key ranking signals?
  3. Tips to making the best out of Instagram algorithm
  4. Summary
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1. Instagram Algorithm

Instagram doesn't use one algorithm to regulate what people see on the platform. They employ a variety of approaches, classifiers, and methods for each purpose.

The primary purpose is to make the most of users' time. As Instagram makes most of its revenue through advertising, they want users to spend even more time browsing the app.

But, how does the algorithm determine whether a piece of content is worth showing to a particular person at any given moment?

The algorithm immediately goes through all available material whenever a person opens the app and makes the following decision:

  • Which posts to show in the newsfeed, and in what order
  • Which posts to display on the Explore tab
  • Algorithms works for all post types be it still images, stories, or reels

Essentially, it analyzes the user's past actions, sweeps through all available posts, and then determines how interesting each one is to that person. The most engaging material rises to the top.

This is done by calculating the thousands of data points that provide ranking signals.

2. Ranking Signals

According to Instagram, its algorithms employ key indicators in their analyses, which vary depending on each element.

Instagram claims that its systems can extract "thousands" of signals, but the most essential ones on Feed, Reels, and Stories, are:

Relationship

The algorithm assumes that people who’ve interacted with your account in the past will be interested in your new content.

It examines your relationship based on the following interactions:

  • Following each other on Instagram
  • Direct Messaging each other
  • Commenting, liking, saving, or tagging posts
  • If they searched for you by name

The algorithm will recognize a good relationship if your audience is loyal and regularly engages with your posts.

Timeliness

This is something else you may have noticed: the Instagram algorithm believes that the most recent postings are most essential to people and the newer posts are displayed at the top of the newsfeed.

Interest

In most cases, the algorithm's purpose is to provide people what they want. Instagram analyzes the content and then distributes it to those who may be interested in those particular content.

Instagram senses interests through users' likes, comments, and engaged with a certain type of content recently.

For example, if you are interested in yoga, then you'll see a lot of content including ads around yoga in your feed and explore tab.

Popularity

Instagram also looks at how popular a post is, for example, how many people have liked it or saved it. It also looks at how quickly it is getting engagement and how long it can keep the users engaged.

Most of the content which makes it to the top of the exploring tab is popular and it gives these contents a chance to find a new audience.

Reels

It deserves a special mention because besides being one of the latest content types introduced, it is also considered the most important by Instagram.

Tiktok has become more popular these days and this is Instagram's answer to keep users engaged in their platform. Short-form and entertaining videos are getting the most engagement among all forms of content.

Instagram also looks at the audio track being used and its popularity in addition to its quality, originality, and popularity.

3. Working with Instagram Algorithm

Create Reels

Instagram itself admitted that it is no more a photo-sharing platform, in addition, all reports suggest that the algorithm is currently “boosting” Reels aggressively. Instagram wants Reels to replicate TikTok's success, period.

Quality and originality are important and not the number of reels you post. If it is engaging, Instagram will increase the reach, improving your chances to be discovered by more people and that means more followers and engagement.

Post carousels

Carousels are multiple still images combined into one, it increases the amount of time a user engages with the post and the Instagram algorithm likes it.

According to Hootsuite's research, they have three times the engagement and 1.4x the reach of other post types.

Post consistently

The newest post gets to the top of users' feeds and that is the reason it is key to post consistently.

Data shows businesses post more than 1 post on average daily and for the right reasons, the more users see you the more chances you get for engagement.

In June 2021, Instagram's chief Adam Mosseri revealed that a feed posting frequency of two per week and two Stories each day is optimum for developing a following on the app.

Posting time

People are spending around 25 minutes each day on Instagram and there are 100s of posts competing for their attention.

You may be tempted to find out the best times to post content on Instagram, there are plenty of resources on it if you search. Still trying to find out when your audience is most active.

Just experiment with it, post during different times, and see which one gets you more immediate likes. You'll eventually find the best timings for your posts.

Hashtags

They may be one of the oldest tools to get discovered on Instagram but are not any less than others.

Accurate, and thoughtful hashtags indicate to the algorithm what's in your post and who may be interested in it.

Summary

This article has given you a lot of insight into the Instagram algorithm. If you want to take advantage of this information, it is important that you post at least two times per week and use hashtags in your posts correctly to increase engagement with your audience.

The more people see what you are posting on Instagram, the better chance they will have for engaging with it!

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