Understanding Instagram’s Algorithm Tips to Work With It, Not Against It

For marketers, staying on top of the Instagram algorithm is like pursuing a difficult target. The algorithm keeps changing, affecting how posts are seen in Feeds. Previous updates have greatly impacted the exposure brands get organically, making marketers need to adjust and update their approaches.

One question that comes up repeatedly is: How can marketers work with the Instagram algorithm so that their posts reach the right audience? Although the algorithm’s inner workings are intricate and always shifting, valuable insights and strategies can be used to improve a business’s presence on Instagram.

This blog will discuss the fundamentals of Instagram’s algorithm and tips for improving your ranking. 

What Is Instagram Algorithm

Instagram algorithm comprises a combination of algorithms, processes, and classifiers to personalize user experience. Initially, Instagram used a simple chronological algorithm, displaying posts in the order they were created. However, the algorithm has now transformed into an intertwined system that decides how content is displayed based on individual user preferences.

Different parts of the app utilize distinct algorithms. The Feed algorithm operates differently from the Explore page algorithm, and the Explore page uses a different algorithm from Reels. This differentiation is due to how users interact with each section of the app. For instance, users typically put up Stories for close friends. However, they look for new and diverse content on the Explore page.

This advanced ranking system ensures a highly personalized user experience, meaning no two users will see the same content on their Explore pages. Even if one person manages multiple accounts, the content recommendations will differ.

How Does Instagram Algorithm Functions?

The Instagram algorithm prioritizes content to match user preferences, engagement patterns, and behavior on the platform.

Core Components and Ranking Signals

  1. Engagement Metrics: The algorithm considers likes, comments, shares, and saves to gauge the popularity and relevance of posts. Content with higher engagement is likely to appear at the top of a user’s feed.
  2. User Interaction: The content shown is significantly influenced by how often and recently users interact with specific accounts. Accounts that users engage with frequently, whether through direct messages, comments, or profile visits, are more likely to see their posts.
  3. Content Type and Format: The algorithm treats different types of content—photos, videos, Reels, and Stories—distinctively. It aims to present a diverse mix of formats based on what the user interacts with most. For instance, if a user regularly watches Reels about a particular topic, more Reels will be shown.
  4. Relevancy and Timeliness: Recent posts are prioritized to keep the feed fresh. However, older posts with sustained high engagement may still surface if relevant to the user’s interests.
  5. Explore Page and Hashtags: The Explore page uses similar signals but with a stronger emphasis on discovery. It showcases content from accounts the user doesn’t follow but aligns with interests. Hashtags also play a critical role in categorizing content, aiding in its discovery by a broader audience.

Can Users Control Algorithms?

The answer is no, but users can influence the algorithm by using features such as “Close Friends” for Stories, “Mute” for specific accounts, and “Not Interested” options on the Explore page. These interactions provide direct feedback to the algorithm, refining the personalization process.

The Instagram algorithm continually learns from user behavior to improve content recommendations, maintaining high user engagement and satisfaction on this personalized social media platform.

How Instagram Algorithm Ranks Feeds

When scrolling through your Instagram feed, the posts you come across are influenced by four primary algorithmic factors. The following factors are amalgamated to generate a ‘score of interest,’ which predicts the likelihood of a user interacting with a post.

  1. Post Details: This includes metrics such as the number of likes, whether the content is a photo or video, and the time of posting.
  2. User Details: This considers the poster’s relevance to your account, whether you follow each other, and the poster’s overall engagement level.
  3. Interaction History: This analyzes how you have engaged with posts from the same user in the past, including commenting, liking, or saving their posts.
  4. History: This assesses the content you usually consume on Instagram.
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 Interactions and Post-Positioning

The algorithm gives specific weight to five types of interactions to determine the post’s placement in your feed:

  • The duration of time spent viewing the post
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Saves
  • Profile taps after viewing the post

The higher the probability of user interaction with a post, the higher it will be positioned in the feed.

Additionally, understanding your audience’s preferences and tailoring your content to their interests is vital for enhancing the visibility of your posts. Instagram analytics tools can assist in identifying the type of content that receives the most engagement from your followers.

You can optimize your content for interactions on Instagram. You can get users to comment by asking questions in captions to encourage a response. You can also increase saves by sharing valuable how-to guides or informative content that users may want to revisit later. 

Furthermore, enhance shares by posting trending Reels or shareable content that resonates with your audience. You can also attract likes by creating motivational or visually appealing posts that capture your followers’ attention. Using these strategies, you can boost engagement and strengthen your connection with your audience on Instagram.

Before posting, contemplate how users might engage with your content and experiment with ways to prompt more engagement. This systematic approach will enhance the performance of your posts within Instagram’s algorithm.

How Instagram Algorithm Ranks Stories

Instagram Stories that disappear after 24 hours give brands and artists a prominent method of being seen first when people open the app.

The “Stories Tray,” located at the top of the screen, shows your profile image whenever you publish a Story. Instagram gives more weight to posts from users’ closest friends, making it harder for companies to show up here.

Instagram Stories Algorithm Critical Signals 

For Instagram Stories to provide the most relevant material to viewers, the algorithm takes into account the following signals:

  • Viewing History: How often a user has seen an account’s stories shown in their viewing history. Priority will be given to accounts with a greater viewing frequency.
  • Activity History: How often a user has interacted with an account’s Stories by giving reactions or replies. The Story’s prominence is proportional to the amount of interaction it receives.
  • Relationship: How close the user is to the account creator, considering factors like whether or not they are friends or relatives.

Instagram uses certain signals to decide which Stories users would like the most. The algorithm can predict whether a user will engage with a Story by tapping on it, sending a direct message in response, or moving on to the next Story. Based on these predictions, the Stories Tray displays Stories in an order.

Strategies for Enhancing Story Visibility

Think about these tactics if you want your stories to show up more often in the Stories Tray:

  • Increase Viewing Frequency: Post captivating and frequent content to increase Story viewership.
  • Boost Engagement: Make your Stories more engaging by adding polls, quizzes, and stickers to get people talking.
  • Get to Know Your Audience Better: Show your audience more of yourself by sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses.

With the right knowledge and strategy, you can increase the exposure and interaction with your Instagram Stories, turning them into a powerful medium for audience engagement.

How Instagram Algorithm Ranks Explore Page 

The Explore page on Instagram uses an advanced algorithm to recommend fresh content to users based on the accounts users follow. This page is designed to expose users to new, captivating content from accounts they may have never interacted with.

Factors Influencing the Explore Page Algorithm

Although Instagram has not officially revealed what triggers its algorithm, the following are some factors that influence it.

  • Post Information: Instagram assesses different aspects of a post to determine its visibility, such as its popularity, content type, and timeliness. Viral and highly engaging posts are more likely to be prominently displayed.
  • User Interaction History: The algorithm considers the kinds of posts users typically engage with. For example, if users frequently view Reels about cats, similar content will appear on their Explore page.
  • Past Interactions with Accounts: Even if users do not follow an account, previous interactions, like profile visits or likes, can impact whether that account’s content appears on their Explore page.
  • User Information: The algorithm evaluates a poster’s overall engagement. Content from accounts with high interaction rates is prioritized.
  • Search Terms and Hashtags: The Explore page also considers users’ search behavior and hashtag usage. For instance, if a user searches for “donuts,” the algorithm recognizes this and suggests popular images or videos of donuts.
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Strategies to Improve Content Visibility on the Explore Page

To enhance the likelihood of your content appearing on the Explore page, consider these approaches:

  • Use Relevant Hashtags: Include popular and pertinent hashtags to increase the visibility of your posts.
  • Create Engaging Content: Produce content that stimulates likes, comments, and shares.
  • Optimize Captions: Use compelling captions that align with users’ interests and encourage engagement.

By comprehending and leveraging these factors, you can effectively enhance the visibility of your content on Instagram’s Explore page, broadening your reach and engaging a wider audience.

How Instagram Algorithm Ranks Reels 

Sharing Reels is an effective strategy to gain engagement on Instagram. Understanding the Instagram algorithm can greatly expand the reach of your Reels.

The Instagram algorithm for Reels functions on the same principles as other content. It prioritizes the most engaging and pertinent content for each user, considering factors like:

  • Engagement: The number of likes, comments, shares, and saves a Reel collects.
  • Previous Interactions: The user’s past engagements with similar content.
  • User Interests: The type of content the user usually engages with.
  • Video Information: Details about the video, including its popularity and relevance.

 Producing Top-Quality Reels

Your Reels should be of high quality to achieve significant exposure. Engage your audience with compelling and enjoyable content that stands out through innovation and uniqueness. Inspire viewers with motivational or thought-provoking content while aligning with current trends and popular themes. 

Additionally, ensure your videos are shot in high definition to maintain visual appeal. Quality content that resonates with your audience is more likely to be widely shared and recommended by the algorithm.

If you want to learn how to get more followers on Instagram and are looking to boost the visibility of your Reels, you must consider the following:

By focusing on these strategies, you can optimize your Reels for the Instagram algorithm, increasing the chances of your content going viral and reaching a broader audience.

Tips To Master Instagram Algorithm

Gaining more engagement is crucial for climbing Instagram’s ranking system. Your content will reach more people if you can get your current audience excited about it. If you want to jump in the rankings and attract more customers, use these seven strategies:

  1. Repost Instagram Videos Regularly
    With double the space on the Explore tab, Instagram Reels get more exposure across the app. Consistently posting reels can greatly increase your exposure and discoverability.
  2. Promoting Engagement using Instagram Stories Stickers
    Stickers with questions, polls, and emoji sliders are great for increasing interaction in Stories. Higher algorithmic boosting is a direct result of more involvement. Adding a sticker to your first Story can increase interaction even further.
  3. Generate Interest with Captivating Statements
    Feed ranking is greatly affected by comments and Instagram likes. Create captivating captions that elicit responses from viewers by requesting their thoughts, asking them to double-tap if they agree, or tagging friends.
  4. Use Keywords and Hashtags in Your Posts
    The system considers the number of views and hashtags you use to determine your ranking. Posts using twenty hashtags get the most attention. No matter how few you use, ensure they are high-quality and relevant hashtags.
  5. Have Your Followers Favorite You
    Users can curate a customized, chronological feed with up to fifty profiles, so ask your followers to add you to their Favorites Feed. Additionally, the Home feeds include posts from these accounts at a higher position, increasing their exposure and interaction.
  6. Promote Your Instagram Posts to Other Platforms
    Using each other’s networks, you may reach new audiences via cross-promotion, like Instagram Collabs posts with co-shared authorship. You can also learn how to link Instagram to Facebook to gain traction among your Facebook followers. 
  7. Use Instagram Analytics 
    Keeping an eye on analytics is crucial for figuring out what content does well and how to improve your approach. By tracking important indicators over time and using them to identify effective content, you can save time and improve your ranking.

    Focusing on these tactics can help you optimize your content for Instagram’s algorithm, increasing the chances of your posts reaching more people and, who knows, even going viral.
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Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Three Primary Factors Influencing the Instagram Algorithm?

The Instagram algorithm prioritizes content based on three primary factors:

  • Engagement: The level of interaction a post receives, including likes, comments, shares, and saves.
  • Relevance: The user’s past interactions and interests, which help the algorithm determine what content is most likely to engage them.
  • Recency: The timeliness of the content, with newer posts favored over older ones.

Does Posting Too Often Affect Your Ranking?

Yes, posting too frequently on Instagram can negatively impact your ranking. The algorithm can view excessive posting as spammy, which can lower engagement rates. It’s important to balance consistency with quality to maintain audience interest and interaction.

What is the Instagram Explore Page?

The Instagram Explore Page is a personalized content discovery section that features posts from accounts users do not follow. The algorithm suggests new and interesting content based on a user’s interactions, interests, and trending topics, helping users discover accounts and content tailored to their preferences.


To maximize your success on Instagram, it’s not sufficient to merely focus on publishing regular content. Equally important is building strong relationships, creating high-quality content, and actively engaging with users.

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