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Instagram Algorithm for dummies

We always hear from digital marketers, social media gurus & more, that you have to create content a certain way or or post at this hour because of the constantly changing “algorithm”.

But what is “The Algorithm”?

An algorithm is a set of instructions for solving a problem or accomplishing a task. For Instagram it helps sorting posts based on relevancy instead of publish time, in order to prioritize which content a user sees first according to the likelihood that they will actually engage with such content. What Instagram thinks that their audience would like to see in order for them to stay more time in the app.

However, there are multiple algorithms at play across the app, with each one tailored to deliver content that it believes will be of high-interest to users and it’s constantly changing. Keeping this in mind, once you understand how the algorithms actually work, you can tailor your content strategy to work alongside it.

The main 5 that we are going to talk about in this blog are the following:


Instagram shows their users content (Reels, post, IGTV or stories) that they will most likely engage with taking in consideration their behaviors and interests. Let me give you an example: If your post is about the benefits of going vegan, the algorithm is going to show it to people that like things like vegan food, gardening or topics related to it because there is a higher chance that they will be more interested than someone that is constantly looking for grills or how to make steak. Instagram will always try to deliver similar kinds of contents to your feed related to the things you like or make you stay longer in the app.

Relationship with users

Instagram detects the interaction among several users to understand which content the users would like to see the most. For example if your group of friends which you always interact with in the platform (sending messages, liking or commenting post, etc) is liking a post of someone that you haven’t heard or looked before is most likely to pop up in your feed. Also if a user constantly likes and comments on a specific creator's posts, that user will most likely see more of that particular creator's content in their feed.

Whether the viewer likes or comments, and whether they tap on the music information, which would suggest they're inspired to create their own Reel.

As a content creator, adding sounds is one of the elements that you can focus on to boost engagement. 👉🏻 Reels with tunes will get priority.


The more you post and the better the content you create is going to be a key for all your content to be found.

Following count

Instagram takes a note of how many pages/accounts/creators the user follows to prioritize different posts in your feed. When they follow a large number of creators, there might be fewer posts from specific ones. It all comes back to how often you engage with the accounts that you follow. The more people they follow the higher chance you miss post.


Instagram promotes more users that keep up with trends and seasons. Meaning if you want to recreate something that was successful two months ago it might not go as well as it could’ve been before. But if you post something while it’s been trending or you start the trend is going to be shown to a wider audience.

There's also a snowball effect—meaning the more popular your content becomes, the more people it'll be shown to. So getting immediate interactions after you post will be important.

Some other signals that Instagram looks at are whether your content has been filmed in hi-resolution, that the video doesn't have any watermarks, and that the content isn't political.

Put simply, Instagram will promote:

  • Videos with music

  • Videos with high engagement

  • High-resolution videos

  • Trending content

Instagram does this by adding these videos to Explore and the new Reels tab.

If you want to know if Instagram would work for your business check out our "Do I need Instagram for my business blog".

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