Understanding the Instagram Algorithm: 7 Key Factors and Why the Algorithm is Great for Marketers
By Alfred Lua
If you are creating great content, more followers — and non-followers — are going to see it.
But how does the Instagram algorithm work?
In this post, we’ll break it all down for you. We’ll go through the factors that could influence the ranking of your content on your followers’ feed and explain why the Instagram algorithm is actually great for marketers.
How does the Instagram algorithm work?
The short answer is… it’s complicated.
While we might not know exactly how the Instagram algorithm works, I’d love to help you decipher the mysterious Instagram algorithm (as much as I can). I dug into several sources and distilled my findings into the following seven key factors.
Here’s a quick overview of the seven key factors we’ll go through below:
- Engagement: How popular the post is
- Relevancy: The genres of content you are interested in and have interacted with
- Relationships: The accounts you regularly interact with
- Timeliness: How recent the posts are
- Profile Searches: The accounts you check out often
- Direct Shares: Whose posts you are sharing
- Time Spent: The duration spent viewing a post
1. Engagement: How popular the post is
According to Michael Stelzner, CEO and Founder of Social Media Examiner, when a person or brand publishes a post, social media algorithms would typically show the post to a sample audience and see how the audience react to it. If the audience reacts positively to the post right away, the algorithm would show the post to more people.
This implies that a post with more engagement is likely going to rank higher on your Instagram feed. The types of engagement that the Instagram algorithm considers can include likes, comments, video views, shares (via direct message), saves, story views, and live video views.
If someone you follow has engaged with a post, too, Instagram might also assume that you could be interested in that post and included it within your feed.
Here’s the great news: An Instagram spokesperson told Business Insider that ranking of Instagram posts will not be a popularity contest. Posts with less engagement but which are more relevant to you can still appear right at the top of your feed.
2. Relevancy: The genres of content you are interested in and have interacted with
When the algorithmic timeline was annouced, Instagram mentioned that it would show you content that you’ll likely be interested in first:
The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the Go to the full article.