How does Instagram algorithm work in 2021?


The Instagram algorithm is responsible for everything that we see on our feed. Whenever a user opens the app, the algorithm filters through all the available content posted between users previous check out and the latest check-in and determines:

  • The posts that occupy the top position in the user's feed.
  • Posts that show up in the users explore section.
  • The sequence in which IGTV, reels, stories, and live videos are placed in the feed and other relevant tabs.

In layman's terms, the Ig algorithm decides the reach of the content – post that a greater number of network users will see. It has received backlash in the past for this, as people wanted posts to be organized in reverse chronological order. This social media platform justified themselves with a clarification stating - before implementing the algorithm in 2016; people missed 70% of all posts and almost 50% of posts from their friends and family.

For ranking a post, the algorithm primarily considers the level of interaction the content receives. If you are struggling in that department, we suggest you buy real Instagram followers from legit vendors. This post will look at various factors that the Instagram recommendation algorithm considers when selecting and ranking posts uploaded on the platform. We will also reveal tips that can help you get your content in front of more eyes.

Instagram Algorithm Explained


Below are some of the critical factors that are important from the algorithm's perspective:

Your relationship with the audience


Ever wondered why posts at the top of your feed belong to someone that you recently followed. There is certainly no coincidence. We usually engage with our family, friends, and colleagues more often than others; IG takes advantage of this and gives more priority to accounts that we have frequently interacted with in the past. To assess your relationship with your followers, IG considers the following points - this helps the IG feed algorithm select people who will see your posts.

Instagram looks if you and your follower:

  • Comment on each other's post.
  • Are tagged together in a picture.
  • Searched for the other person.
  • Saved each other's posts.
  • Follow each other or are following the same people.

Frequency: How much you use Instagram


When you come back to this social media platform, the algorithm is designed to show you the most relevant post since your last visit. For example, let's say you come back to Instagram within the first 15 minutes; the posts you will see will appear in chronological order mostly because there is not much for you to see. However, if you come back to it from a 2 to 3-week hiatus, you will witness posts that are more to your liking.

From a creator's perspective, your followers are more likely to witness your post if they frequently use Instagram. On the flip side, the chances of your content showing up dwindle; if your followers access IG after a long time - they would have many content backlogs built up. Also, Instagram constantly monitors your browsing activity. When you spend more time on this application, the algorithm can dig deeper and give you more content based on your preferences.

Timeliness: posts that are recent


The next crucial factor in Instagram recommendation algorithms is the timeliness of each post. From its perspective, the most recent posts are more important to its users. Instagram posts get the maximum engagement in the first couple of hours of upload - this indicates that IG prioritizes recency and relevancy in each content shown to its user. From an interview with Instagram's Thomas Dimson, the algorithm shuffles posts that are uploaded between your previous and current check-ins. You must post when your audience is most active - your followers are unlikely to see your post that you shared a few days back.

How much a post is to your liking


When you are active on the platform, the algorithm constantly monitors your browsing activity to determine your preference in content. So, if Instagram finds that you are interested in a particular genre of content - then Instagram will rank content that belongs to that genre higher in your feed. Instagram monitors the following behaviour to gauge your choice of content:

  • The type of post you view.
  • Content that you like.
  • Post that you have commented on.
  • The kind of post you shared.
  • Friends you interact with
  • Stories that you view.
  • Photos that you are tagged in.

Apart from monitoring your behaviour Instagram also has an advanced image recognition algorithm that analyses the content of the uploaded post. For example, if you liked or commented on posts that feature cute kittens, the IG feed algorithm will consider similar posts the next time it designs your feed.

How many people you follow


When you follow many accounts, the Instagram recommendation algorithm has to sort through the content and show relevant posts in your feed. Hence, the probability of you seeing every content from each account will diminish if you engage with multiple handles. On the other hand, if you follow a few dedicated accounts, you will witness every post uploaded by the account holders.

How to make the Instagram algorithm work for you


Post consistently

Posting frequently is crucial if you want to reach more people and grow your account or brand. According to Hootsuite, businesses upload an average of 1.56 posts on their feed per day. Consistency in the upload is essential, but knowing when a post should go up on your feed is also crucial. If you have a business account, go to Instagram insights and navigate to the audience tab. Here, you will see a graph showing the times of the day your audience is active on Instagram. Look at the chart and find the point where the bar is the highest - this is when your post can receive the highest engagement since most of your followers are active.

Create stories regularly as it becomes yet another avenue to drive engagement. Uploading posts multiple times, a day can contribute to faster growth. But not everyone can post every day because of other commitments. But that shouldn't bother you too much; what matters is you design a schedule that works for you and stick to it.

Post when your audience is active


A person spends an average of 30 minutes on Instagram per day. The algorithm wants to show the most relevant and recent content to its users within this time frame. Hence, you need to consider two factors to narrow down and find the right time to post:

  • At what time a majority of your followers are online.
  • The behaviour of your audience.
  • When are they likely to consider your brand?

This allows you to retain maximum engagement on your posts.

Photos and videos received equal treatment


Video and images occupy the same level of hierarchy. Instagram recommendation algorithm does not give one preference over the other. IG will promote a post that receives a high level of engagement from its users. For example, if IG reels receive saves, shares, likes, and comments from a person, the algorithm will prefer showing more of the reels to that user.

As a creator, when you share more content spanning over different formats - your ability to reach new users increases. If, by chance, your followers prefer engaging with video more than photos, then your videos will appear more times in your audience's feed. Nothing is set in stone. To know which content works best for you. We suggest experimenting with a mix of different content - image, posts, videos, stories, and IGTV. Look at the medium that gets maximum engagement. Thus, creating IGTV videos or Reels or static posts does not matter, how audience reacts to it matters.

Engage with your audience


Instagram recommendation algorithm prioritizes content that receives more engagement - these contents are shown more to the users. Hence, as a creator, you prioritize generating more views, likes, and comments to your posts if you want to stay at the top of your follower's feed. As a creator, you have access to analytics - it is one of the benefits of having an Instagram business account. Go through the metrics to find the posts that receive the highest engagement. Once you find your high-performing content, strive to create more of the same. Arrange your feed via engagement - your most engaging posts will appear at the top. Scroll below. You will see the content that did not perform as per expectation. Tweak your content strategy and focus on creating posts that work for you - content contributing to your account growth.

Utilize the power of captions


An exceptional caption is needed for a fantastic post. A caption has the power to force action from the viewers - you can achieve engagement such as likes, comments, shares, and save via a solid caption. You can also use the caption to impart knowledge about your brand to your audience. Guidelines for a good Instagram caption:

More extended captions perform better

A study conducted by HubSpot found that a caption with an average of 500 characters tends to generate more engagement. But you are free to experiment with short and long captions to see which one works for you the best.

Compliment a caption with a call-to-action

A call to action is asking your audience to do something for you. You can ask your followers to like your post, answers via comments, share your post, etc. You can also include an URL to a landing page in your caption.

Use fewer hashtags

Hotspot states that more than six hashtags can significantly reduce the level of engagement your post receives. Start by using fewer hashtags and monitor your level of engagement. You can up the hashtag numbers in your future post.

Also read: How to craft the perfect Instagram Bio

How to beat Instagram Algorithm


Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is no right way to trick or beat the Instagram algorithm. As a creator, your job should be to create and upload high-quality, engaging posts at the end of the day. Instagram feed algorithm is constantly upgrading. Hence your content strategy should be flexible enough to evolve together with the algorithm. Quantity is indeed essential, but you should goal is to create more authentic and engaging content. With hard work and dedication, you will see the algorithm working in your favour.

Hope you like our article on “how the Instagram algorithm works”. You can also checkout our other blogs that covers various topics pertaining to the popular photo and video sharing platform.

Feel free to share.