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How the Instagram algorithm works

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How the Instagram algorithm works: Instagram is one of the social networks you use the most to promote your online business. Well, you do well, since it is a “square” frequented by billions of users from all over the world. You will have noticed, however, that being able to reach large numbers is not at all easy: when you post content in the stories, in the Reels in the feed, in fact, it does not automatically reach all your followers, but only part of them.

The reason for this is identifiable in the functioning of theInstagram algorithm, that is, that artificial intelligence that – in very simple terms – decides how and when to offer content to users who frequent the social network. Now, know how the Instagram algorithm works in an exact way it is almost impossible (unless you work on the design of the same!); however, it is possible to take into consideration some known mechanisms of the latter and develop strategies to exploit them to one’s advantage, to give visibility to one’s contents.

In the next few lines, therefore, we will analyze some “behaviors” of the photographic social network and we will try to understand how it acts towards certain contents. I repeat, I can’t tell you who knows what secret, as I don’t work for Instagram, but after reading my tips you will surely have a more complete picture of the situation. Given, therefore, that you seem somewhat taken by the subject, let’s put aside the chatter and take action. I wish you happy reading!

What is the Instagram algorithm and how it works

Let’s dive right into the guide and see what is the Instagram algorithm and how it works. In a nutshell, the Instagram algorithm is the process by which the photographic social network decides who to show a certain content to and for how long, factors that are decisive for the success of a post, a story, the Reels and, more in general, of your profile.

However, a necessary clarification must be made. Although in this article I will refer (for a simplistic question) toalgorithm of Instagram, you must know that, as indicated on the official site of the famous social network, they are actually used more algorithms to decide what to show to users.

This is why being aware of the principles of operation of the Instagram algorithm is important. Although it is not possible to know in detail everyone the factors that the latter takes into consideration to determine which content to “push” or not on the platform, there are some that, as a sort of “pillars”, are quite well known and remain unchanged even following updates of the algorithm itself .

While at its inception Instagram showed the contents simply in chronological order, with the dizzying increase in users subscribed to the platform it was necessary to make changes to avoid losing the contents of the people followed, so as to show those that were most interesting for users. . What factors are used to make this choice?

One of them is the popularity of the content, which is determined by the number of interactions that each of them managed to total: if a post you published manages to get many likes, comments and views in a relatively short period of time (perhaps within a few minutes of its publication), the Instagram algorithm will classify the content as of quality or, in any case, with a high rate of involvement.

Since this is a potentially interesting content for other users, therefore, the algorithm will show it to them, provided it is in line with the interests of the latter. And this is where another factor taken into account by the Instagram algorithm comes into play: the thematic treated.

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed: when you are looking for a certain content on the platform (e.g. landscape photos, sports content, culinary content, etc.), through one or more hashtags, the number of posts that are shown to you regarding the The topic sought grows enormously. This also happens with your posts: if they are in line with the searches that users make on Instagram, the likelihood of them being seen by them increases.

Interactions also play an important role. For example, if you comment on someone else’s posts or stories, the Instagram algorithm makes a series of predictions and, through some plausible hypotheses, calculates the probabilities of interacting with a post in different ways. The same goes for the feed, where five different types of interactions are examined – pausing for a few seconds on it, commenting on it, liking it, saving it or tapping your profile photo – to determine which other posts to see. Over time, then, the algorithm calculates the user’s behavior to “adjust” the shot and make the contents to be shown more similar to the interests of each user.

Another factor that is taken into account by the Instagram algorithm is the freshness content. Reasonably, Instagram (like all other social networks for that matter), tends to emphasize the most recent ones, rather than the older ones: this explains why, when you publish “burst” content, usually only the latter are more successful. In addition, theirs are also very important originality. A story that is “re-shared”, for example, will have less visibility than a new and “original” story.

A very important factor that is taken into consideration is theactivities of each user. The comments, likes and interactions made in the past, as well as the search history, greatly influence what the algorithm shows, especially in the “Explore” section.

Even the time that people take to look at the posts you publish is crucial to the popularity of the same. Often, in fact, the Instagram algorithm analyzes the amount of time spent to see a post as a key factor in increasing its visibility: if a user spends several seconds or minutes in front of a content, in fact, it is likely that this has it in some captivated way.

Two other factors that greatly influence the Instagram algorithm is the number of accesses performed by individual users and the number of accounts followed: the more sessions you perform, the greater the amount of content you will see; the more accounts he follows, the more difficult it will be to appear in his feed.

The ones I have just listed are the main “public” factors that influence the Instagram algorithm. Further on I will explain what you can do concretely to try to use them to your advantage.

How the Instagram Stories algorithm works

Instagram stories

If you want to know how the Instagram Stories algorithm worksknow that there is not much to add compared to what has already been said in the previous chapterwhere I mainly focused on the posts that are published in the platform feed.

Also in this case, in fact, the visibility of the stories is greatly influenced by the interactions that users have with the contents that are published through this mode, the time they take to watch them and the freshness of the latter (i.e. the moment in which they were published).

For the stories, however, another factor is also added: the eventual ones “negative” actions carried out by users on the same. If more users, in watching one of your stories, decide to move on to the next one or even to exit the content, the algorithm of Instagram in “reading” these behaviors will determine that it is an uninteresting content and, consequently, it may not show it to a wider audience.

Of course, you can’t stop a user from performing similar “negative” actions on your stories, other than by trying to make them interesting and fun.

How to beat the Instagram algorithm


Now that we have seen, at least briefly, the functioning of the algorithm that underlies Instagram, it is time to see how to take advantage of the notions I imparted to you earlier to your advantage. In fact, below I will be able to indicate you how to beat the Instagram algorithm (to use a somewhat strong term).

As for the posttry to follow the instructions below: by implementing them you should notice, over time, some improvement in the visibility and popularity of your posts.

  • Encourage interactions – to do this, invite users who will look at the post to interact with a like or a comment. Try to do this in a delicate and elegant way, perhaps using a formula like that “Look where I was yesterday… What do you think of this location? Do you like it? Say it with a like and a comment! “ or “Do you also think that…? Let me know yours with a ‘Like’ or a comment “. Don’t forget, however, that the best way to encourage interactions is to create quality content, whether it’s original, interesting or otherwise fun. Clear?
  • Treats a well-defined topic – if the topic of your post is well defined, it will probably attract a greater number of users, at least those interested in the topic. Given that on Instagram (as well as on many other platforms), the topics are marked by hashtags, choosing the most popular and relevant to the content created is of fundamental importance. To find the most popular and relevant hashtags, I recommend using the online service All-Hashtag and the app TopTags (Android/iOS / iPadOS).
  • Regularly post new content – as content ages quickly enough on Instagram, posting new ones regularly is important if you want to increase your chances of becoming a constant presence in other people’s Instagram feed.
  • Use captivating and not too short captions – this directly affects the viewing time of posts. If a caption is long enough and keeps the user “engaged”, it will take some time to read it, which will make the Instagram algorithm assume that the latter has actually been “captured” by the published content, with the result that will find it interesting and, consequently, will show it to more people.

If you want to improve the performance of yours storiesso as to reach more accounts, instead, try to follow these other “tips” and you will see that you will not regret it!

  • Invite users to interact – the best way to do this is to create surveys and ask users to ask you questions. In this way, you will entice those who follow you and, more generally, those who view your stories, to interact with them. If this happens, it will not escape the Instagram algorithm, which will reward your content by serving it to a wider audience.
  • Post new updates on a regular basis – as I told you a few lines above, Instagram tends to show and promote the latest content, which is why you should try to make new stories regularly to increase your chances of success. Also try to use all the tools offered by the social network, from Reels to live broadcasts, passing through IGTV: the more you are visible, the more likely you are to “satisfy” the algorithm.
  • Use the Place and Hashtag stickers – thanks to them, in fact, you will be able (at least potentially) to insert the contents of your story within those relating to the geotagged place you chetai and the hashtag you used.