10 facts about Instagram’s algorithm you should know!

  • Por Luciano Larrossa
  • 29/11/2021 às 21:35 atualizado em (29/11/2021 às 21:35)
  • 11min de leitura

Some facts about Instagram are just indisputable! One of them is the absurd transformation that the social network went through when it became based on algorithms, in 2016. Those who feel this change the most are the influencers who use the platform as a means of professional work, who claim that they feel this change drastically and feel that the reach of the content has been shortened by Instagram’s algorithm.

Some also say they feel engagement and impressions dwindling within the social network.

However, even if Instagram does restrict the reach of the content through the algorithm, it is possible to get that so desired exposure using some strategies.

We created this article to help you understand 10 algorithm facts, and how you can use this to your advantage to increase engagement on your Instagram account!

Read also: How to disable message requests on Instagram!


How the Instagram’s algorithm works

In short, Instagram’s algorithm is a set of rules that controls the organic reach of users’ content.

According to the platform itself, before the algorithm was implemented in 2016, users missed 50% of their friends’ posts and 70% of their followers’ posts in general. But based on what the algorithm manages to define to whom and what part of the content will it show at the ideal moment?

Basically, it looks at the user’s behavior history, and scans all posts or pieces of content available. It then evaluates each one to predict how interesting it is for that user, so the most interesting content goes to the top, where it is most likely to be seen.


1. The are algorithms at work in a lot of apps

To start our list of facts about Instagram’s algorithm, let’s talk about people thinking that the Instagram algorithm is based on a single concept, when in fact, there are multiple algorithms.

For example, Instagram’s feed algorithm is different from the Explore page algorithm, just as the IGTV algorithm is different from the Reels algorithm. While each of them is different in the experiences they provide, they all work towards the same principle: deliver content that users will find interesting.


2. The feed algorithm determines classifications based on four characteristics

Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, did a recent live on Instagram and shared exactly how the feed algorithm works, giving information that probably no one had yet seen.

During the live, he revealed some important factors that Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes the most and are overall more important than the rest, but that many people still don’t use as a strategy.

The four factors are:

  • Information about the post itself: is it a video of a photo? What is it about? What kind of follower will like it?
  • Information about the post’s author: are they your friend? Do they post frequently? Are they a constant on the platform?
  • Your activity: do you use to watch multiple videos at a time? What kind of content do you usually engage with?
  • Your interaction history: do you like or comment on the posts of whoever posted it?

Based on this information, Instagram’s algorithm calculates the probability that someone will interact with a post, known as an interest score, which determines the order in which posts are displayed in someone’s feed.


3. The feed algorithm also considers the probability of 5 “important” interactions

During the same Live, Mosseri also explained which interactions are “important” for Instagram’s algorithm to properly organize your feed.

These key interactions, or “proxies” as he refers to, are taken into account by the algorithm when determining the feed’s classification:

  • Time investment: how much time will the user spend on the post?
  • Like: what is the probability that the user will like the post?
  • Commentary: what is the probability the user will comment on the post?
  • Save: what is the probability of the user saving the post?
  • Tap the profile: what is the probability the user will tap the poster’s profile and check it out after seeing the post?

If the algorithm calculates that it is unlikely that someone will perform any of these interactions on a post, it will lower its priorities in your feed.


4. Adding someone to your list of Close Friends improves its ranking

The fourth item on our list of facts about Instagram’s algorithm is about adding friends to your Close Friends list.

Instagram's algorithm

If you add someone to your list of Close Friends, you’ll likely see their posts and stories more frequently when you open the app.

However, if you show that you’re not interested in a particular post on the Explore page, you’re effectively removing that type of content from your priorities within Instagram’s algorithm.

Instagram's algorithm

5. Punctuality is important, but it isn’t everything

When talking about important facts about Instagram’s algorithm, punctuality (when a post has been made) is often brought up and with good reason. But it’s necessary to understand that the feed might look like it is in chronological order, but it certainly isn’t, explains Instagram Head Adam Mosseri.

This means that a post can be shown before a more recent one if the algorithm determines that it has a higher interest score for that user.

However, as time passes, the posting time trumps the interest score and the algorithm favors more recent posts.


6. Every account type is treated the same way (personal, business and content creator)

In a series of stories on the @Creators profile, Instagram confirmed that all account types are treated the same when it comes to algorithms. This means you can have a personal, business or content creator account and it won’t make much of a difference to your content’s performance in the eyes of Instagram’s algorithm.

Switching to a business Instagram account allows you to gain more insight into how your content is performing and also means you can schedule your posts through third-party platforms!


7. Every comment is an interaction

A very common hot topic to be talked about Instagram’s algorithm, it is common to see some myths perpetuated. One of them is that comments with less than three words do not count. In fact, all comments are taken into account, even if they only contain one or two emojis.

In reality it all depends on your followers, meaning if they always engage with your content, the chances that you get a better rank in their Instagram feeds increases considerably. Comments are an indicator of engagement and important to Instagram’s algorithm, so with that in mind it’s a good idea to respond to your comments regularly.

This will not only keep the conversations alive in your posts, but it will also show your audience that you are engaged, which can be great for promoting more interactions.


8. The number of interactions in the first 30 minutes of a post has no effect in its ranking

Instagram has already confirmed that in the first 30 minutes of user interaction there is no interference in feed ranking.

As discussed above, the feed algorithm determines the post rank based on four main factors, and these are not limited to the 30-minute mark. However, it’s a great idea to share your posts at times when your audience is most likely to be online to engage with your content.


9. The feed algorithm doesn’t favor videos over photos

Instagram’s algorithm doesn’t prioritize a single-format content, meaning it doesn’t choose between photo or video content.

However, we can’t deny that video content is typically more engaging and gets more “time investment” per post, two important indicators for the algorithm. As such, video content often trumps photo content in the app, which is an important factor to watch out for.


10. Commentary bots and pods don’t work 

A pod is a group of creators or influencers who come together within Instagram to help make each other’s posts more visible and discoverable. Instagram’s algorithm puts the most popular posts at the top of users’ feeds and weighs likes and comments in that equation. By liking and commenting on each other’s photos, pod members can fabricate engagement and manipulate the algorithm.

Bots are fake accounts programmed to automatically simulate real user activity. Users use this strategy on Instagram only to increase follower and engagement metrics. However, accounts that use Instagram bots are at risk of incurring penalties for cheating the algorithm.

Thanks to Instagram’s algorithm, fake interactions (such as using bots or comment pods) will always be identified and classified as such.

In a Stories Q&A session, the official Instagram profile shared that the best way to build sustainable engagement is to be authentic and transparent on the platform. In short, trying to cheat Instagram’s algorithmic system doesn’t work, and no matter how elaborate the scheme, the platform will always have a way to discover and penalize the user.

If you are really interested in improving your profile’s algorithm ranking by 2022 , the most important thing is to post consistently and regularly engage with your audience. However, there are other ways to beat Instagram’s algorithm without being penalized or even risking being removed from the platform.


Simple ways of beating Instagram’s algorithms

It is natural to resort to any strategy when it comes to growing on digital platforms. But you don’t need to deceive the system or follow the path of users who perform unauthorized procedures, such as those mentioned above.

For that, we’ve got some simple steps that you can follow to beat Instagram’s algorithm.


1. Build a relationship and set expectations

The best way to bypass some of the algorithm’s highly selective process is to win the hearts of your audience. Any successful content is made through what people love the most.

Be based on your persona, the ideal customer for your company and thus you will gain new followers, who were reached by content that had its fair share of repercussion.

2. Post on the right time

The second step you can take is to post content when your audience is active.

If your profile is business or content creator, you can identify in the insights all the data that will help you in this part. Within these insights you can identify data such as: users’ age group, which is the greatest location, the days of the week in which they access their profile the most and even the time they access it.

3. Add value with your captions

Engaging with your audience is a critical point tp Instagram’s algorithm. You can help generate engagement by creating fun captions that entice your audience to ask questions and automatically engage more, and with each other!

Instagram is a social network, and the name itself and the “social” concept needs to be taken literally: it’s relationship between users. Subtitles with the right attracting strategies can generate excellent results for you.

4. Use hashtags properly

Using relevant hashtags in each post increases their reach, meaning posts with hashtags receive more engagement than posts that don’t. However, it is necessary to use appropriate hashtags. Do not put a lot of them in the subtitles and risk losing your audience, even running the risk of being something invasive.

Use hashtags that make sense with your publication.

Hashtags that deviate from the theme of the post can cause a slight disagreement in the delivery of the algorithm.

5. Invest in influence marketing

In summary, don’t try to circumvent the system, just understand the process, and also understand every detail concerning the algorithms. Building a genuine relationship with your followers is the best way to keep your page relevant.

As Instagram is a smart platform, with a high rate of growing each day, it undergoes changes day after day. Stay tuned to each update within the platform and don’t miss the chance to better understand each process.

You can check out more on how to gain followers and raise engagement by clicking here.


How’d you like our article about Instagram’s algorithm?

Were you able to learn anything with our list? Do you have something to add? Comment down below if Instagram’s algorithm isn’t as complicated as you thought or if you have your own ways of gaming the social network!