All You Need to Know about the Instagram Algorithm

2 minute read

There’s been a lot of talk about the Instagram Algorithm. How it makes everyone’s engagement drop, content get lost, and eventually makes us feel angry. But the reality is that this is the reality. The times are long gone when Instagram would show 100% of the content that you post to your followers. Today the reach rates are only about 10-30% and the only thing you can do about it is to work on your strengths and create content that people love. But first, let’s look at how the Instagram algorithm works so we know how to work with it.

The Three Main Factors of Instagram Algorithm

The Instagram Algorithm has three main factors that determine what you see in your feed (and under what circumstances other people see your content):

  1. Interest – Content that is relevant to your interests will rank higher on your feed. Instagram knows what you’re looking at thanks to a technology that can tell what’s in the pictures you see. (It’s a computer that knows this, not a real person.) And the more time you spend looking at a certain type of content, the more you’ll get from that type of content. On a side note, this also means that posts with less engagement that are more relevant to you can still appear right at the top of your feed.
  2. Timeliness – Instagram shows posts that are more recent and more relevant.
  3. Relationship – Posts from people you “care about” are displayed more frequently. Instagram calculates this by interactions, looking at a profile, searching for profile, and direct messages. So, if you keep looking at your ex’s photos, you will see his images more frequently. Don’t blame it on him, you stalker!

The Three Additional Factors

And then there are three additional criteria that play a smaller part in your feed rankings:

  1. Frequency – How often you open Instagram. If, say, once a day, Instagram shows best content from the day. If every four hours, Instagram shows content from past four hours.
  2. Following – Instagram decides what content it shows from all accounts a user follows. The more accounts you follow, the more “broad” and different content you see.
  3. Usage – How long a user spends on Instagram. Shorter bursts of usage mean more general content whereas less frequent usage results in deeper catalogue of content.

What does this mean for you? In a nutshell, understand your audience, post content they like, and interact with your followers and other users. Instagram simply wants the accounts to be live, human, and active, not robotic machines.

Was there anything that surprised you about the algorithm? Do you have a strategy to beat it? Share in the comments below!