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How Does the Instagram Algorithm Work?

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Instagram has established itself as one of the major social media platforms for driving sales. For years, marketers have been doing their part in optimizing content to “beat” the Instagram algorithm and reach the target audience. But social media isn’t a static industry. Now and then, developers implement changes to improve users’ experience. While this move is designed to ensure that users get the most out of the network, this isn’t always a welcome change to many businesses – especially those who put an effort into optimizing their content.

Many ask, “How exactly how does the Instagram algorithm work?” So, we’ve rounded up the answers to help you gain your momentum back.

Last 2018, Instagram provided a glimpse of how the platform runs through and reviews the uploaded content, as well as how their algorithm decides what among that uploaded content will show up on your feed. And according to them, the system ranks content based on three things: relationship, interest, and usage.

How the Instagram Algorithm Works

Relationship

If you’ve followed a thousand Instagram accounts and each of those accounts uploads content at least once a day, chances are you won’t be able to see all of them in one sitting.

A lot of us use Instagram to stay updated on what our friends or family members are up to. Instagram tried to take this into account when they revamped their algorithm, and now the network prioritizes showing content created by the people who you interact with constantly.

This means that if a person sends direct messages, posts comments on your content, or tags you, then Instagram considers that as an indication that the person wants to see more content from you. Thus, they add you to that user’s “priority list” and will most likely show your content on their feed.

Tweaking the Instagram algorithm this way fixes the problem of users not seeing the posts of friends or family members and makes sure that the user sees content that’s relevant to them first.

So, if you want to increase your chances of showing up on your followers’ feed, then you have to make use of this algorithm feature to your advantage. Since the system prioritizes accounts that the user often interacts with, then you should find ways to make your users interact with your content.

One way to do this is to encourage your followers to comment. Asking relevant questions in your captions could do the trick. It’s also good to always reply to their comments. Set your notifications so that you receive a prompt whenever somebody posts a comment on your post. If in any case, the comment doesn’t require a response, then you can just pop an emoji. Keep them engaged!

Interest

What type of contents do you usually engage with? If you’re liking or commenting on posts about puppies, then you’re probably going to see a lot of content about puppies on your feed. If you’re liking and commenting on posts about food, then you’ll be seeing a lot of food images or videos.

Instagram keeps track of your preferences and the things that they think you’re interested in and sorts your feed in a way where you’ll see things that you will probably like.

Furthermore, Instagram implemented an image recognition technology which organizes posts based on what they’ve analyzed on the photo or video instead of the hashtags. While hashtags are still effective, the image recognition technology makes it much easier for people who are interested in your content to see you.

Content is still king. If you want people to take an interest in what you’re sharing, then make what you’re sharing worth their time.

Timeliness

In the past, Instagram implemented reverse chronology on posts. This move had a lot of negative reviews. Thankfully, due to insistent public demand, they scrapped that idea and got back to chronological, which brings us back to another important factor that determines the fate of your content: timeliness. New content will be given priority over old content – regardless of its engagement or how it was optimized.

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If you want more chances of engagement, then you have to post your content when your audience is active.

This might require some trial and error, since people in various demographics tend to act differently. Thus, the active time for one industry may not necessarily be the same as another. In short, you have to be patient and strategic in analyzing your metrics.

While these three factors – relationship, interests, and timeliness – play a huge role in determining whether or not your post will show up on your followers’ feeds, there are three more elements that require your constant attention, and that’s frequency, following, and usage.

Frequency

How often and how consistent are you posting on Instagram? The Instagram algorithm puts that point into consideration when ranking your posts.

You have to post regularly, and you have to be consistent in your posting schedule. For example, if you’re uploading 10 posts for this week and then you’re not posting anything the next week, it could negatively affect your Instagram ranking.

What you should do is schedule your posts – at least once or twice per day – to get uploaded during the time when your followers are active, and set them to be released on schedule every day. This way, you won’t need to go online and upload them manually. Tools like eClincher can help you with this.

Following

If your target audience follows a lot of accounts, expect some tight competition. The more accounts they follow, the more content Instagram has to sort through, and the less your audience sees from you.

Usage

The time a user spends using the app also has a bearing on what shows up on their feed. Instagram sets things this way: If a user only uses the app for a short time, then the system shows them content based on relevance. If a user browses for long periods, then the system provides more fresh content.

Now that you know what factors Instagram takes into consideration when ranking your content, let’s learn more about how to make it work for you.

9 Tips for Best Utilizing the Instagram Algorithm

1. Use Hashtags Strategically

Hashtags still work wonders for your engagement. Instead of adding a bunch of them in your captions, however, aim to target Instagram communities. Fewer people may be using it compared to the more generic hashtags, but the people who use them are more targeted. This enables you to reach users who are most likely interested in what you’re offering.

2. Run Instagram Contests to Improve Audience Relationship

For your posts to appear on your followers’ feeds, they have to be engaging with your content. If you want to do this fast, then you have to initiate the engagement. One option to make this happen is to run Instagram contests. Formulate one that requires your followers or your audience to post comments, tag you, or like your content.

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3. Encourage People to Turn On Notifications

Since not all your posts will show up on your followers’ feeds, it’s up to you to make sure that they see the content that you’ve uploaded. Encourage them to turn on their notifications so they’ll receive a prompt whenever you post something new.

4. Create Content that Matters and Use a Consistent Aesthetic

If you want people to watch out for your content, you have to create content that matters to them. Be consistent in your aesthetics and always find ways to keep things interesting and visually pleasing.

5. Post Consistently and Frequently

Instagram takes how often and how consistent you post into account when deciding whether or not you should be included on your followers’ feeds. The less consistent you are, the fewer the chances you have in showing up on your followers’ feeds. So, schedule your posts ahead of time and schedule them daily.

Moreover, since Instagram’s being picky in what types of posts they show on people’s feeds, it doesn’t hurt to post a lot. Just make sure that the content you upload is high-quality.

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6. Use Instagram Stories

Your feed isn’t the only thing you have to pay attention to. Don’t forget to utilize Instagram Stories. People are checking them out with a close eye, and it helps put you at the top of your followers’ feeds.

7. Share a 1-Minute Preview of Your IGTV on Your Feed

Before, IGTV videos could only be seen on IGTV. This is no longer the case. Instagram now allows you to share one-minute previews of your IGTV videos on your feed so you can invite more followers to check it out.

8. Utilize User-Generated Content

User-generated content is a great way to generate engagement. It builds a relationship with your followers and audience and encourages people to check you out and potentially follow you back and engage with more of your uploads.

9. Make Use of Instagram Analytics

If you’re on Instagram Business, then you have to make use of analytics to track your metrics and confirm if your strategies are reaching your target audience. This is something else eClincher can enhance further.

It’s important to note that algorithms change now and then to adapt to the needs of the platforms’ users. When this happens, your strategies have to adjust. So, always keep yourself updated on the latest trends and use tools like eClincher to monitor your numbers.

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How eClincher Can Help

eClincher isn’t your run-of-the-mill social media management tool. We’re so much more. For starters, we make scheduling out posts faster and easier than ever. But it goes far beyond that.

We offer a unified inbox to help streamline the process of staying in close contact with your followers.

eClincher has also integrated Canva, to make it easier to resize and optimize photos for each individual platform. This is crucial in creating social media posts that look and perform flawlessly on the various networking sites.

Furthermore, you can access Google analytics from right in the platform. Analytics are crucial for determining if your strategy is working and refining your approach to get the best results possible. eClincher will save you valuable time, money, and energy and help your brand be more successful online.

Don’t just take our word for it, though. Try eClincher for free today and experience it for yourself.