Understanding Instagram’s Algorithm

Updated at 08/04/2023

Want to know how Instagram's algorithm works? In this article, we will provide insights on understanding and leveraging Instagram's algorithm.

If you're using Instagram to grow your personal brand or business, understanding Instagram's algorithm is crucial. The algorithm controls what content people see, and when they see it. It's an essential part of how Instagram works and how your content is discovered. In this article, we'll demystify Instagram's algorithm and share how you can work with it to optimize your content and engagement.

What is Instagram's algorithm?

Instagram's algorithm is a set of rules used by the platform to determine which posts to show users and in what order to show them. The algorithm uses various factors to rank posts in a user's feed, including the likelihood they'll be interested in the content, the timeliness of the posts, and their relationship with the person posting.

Is there only one Instagram algorithm?

No, there's not just one Instagram algorithm. Instagram actually uses multiple algorithms, machine learning systems, and ranking processes, each with its own purpose. For instance, there's a different algorithm for the Feed and Stories, another for the Explore page, and another for the Reels.

Each one of these algorithms works to understand what you like and what you don't like, based on your interactions. Then, they show you more of what you're interested in. So, in simple terms, Instagram uses multiple 'rules' or systems, not just one, to decide what content to show you.

How the Instagram Reels algorithm works?

Listed below are the 3 key factors which the Instagram Reels algorithm uses to decide what content to show.

  • Interactions: It looks at what you've liked, shared, and commented on before. If you often interact with a certain type of Reel or a certain user's Reels, Instagram will show you more of that.
  • Video information: Details like what the video is about, where it was filmed, and details in the video all play a part. If you often watch Reels about cooking, for example, you'll see more cooking Reels.
  • User history: If you often use Reels, or use Instagram a lot, that can affect what you see too.

Keep in mind, the Reels algorithm wants to show you stuff you'll like, so the more you interact with Reels, the better it will get at showing you what you enjoy.

How the Instagram Feed algorithm works?

Listed below are the 3 key factors which the Instagram Feed algorithm uses to decide what content to show.

  • Interest: The algorithm predicts what you care about most and shows you that content first. It uses your past interactions to guess your interests.
  • Recency: Posts and Stories that are more recent will be shown before older posts. So, the algorithm also pays attention to when posts were made.
  • Relationship: If you often interact with certain people, like commenting on their posts or being tagged in their photos, the algorithm treats them as close relationships. You'll see more content from these people.

Remember, Instagram's goal is to show you content that you care about. The more you interact with the app, the better it gets at understanding your preferences.

How the Instagram Stories algorithm works?

Listed below are the 3 key factors which the Instagram Stories algorithm uses to decide what content to show.

  • Recency: Newer Stories will often appear before older ones. The algorithm gives priority to fresh content.
  • Relationship: If you engage often with someone's content, like liking or commenting on their posts, or if you message them frequently, you're more likely to see their Stories first.
  • Interaction: The algorithm also considers how often you interact with the Stories feature itself. If you watch a lot of Stories, the app will show you more of them, and from a wider variety of people.

The goal of Instagram is to show you content that you enjoy and interact with the most, and the Stories algorithm is a tool to help achieve that.

How the Instagram Explore page algorithm works?

Listed below are the 5 key factors which the Instagram Explore page algorithm uses to decide what content to show.

  • User activity: The algorithm looks at your past Instagram activity, like the posts you've liked, shared, or commented on.
  • Interactions: It considers the profiles you interact with most. If you frequently engage with certain profiles, you'll see more from them.
  • Trending posts: The algorithm also brings up popular posts that are trending in the Instagram community.
  • Personalization: Based on your activity, the algorithm customizes the Explore page for you. The more you use Instagram, the better it gets at showing you things you'll enjoy.
  • Variety: The Explore page is designed to show you a wide range of photos and videos, even from profiles you don't follow, to keep your experience fresh and engaging.

So, the more you use Instagram, the better the Explore page gets at showing you things you'll enjoy. It's like a personal guide to all the cool stuff on Instagram, made just for you.

Why and how often the Instagram algorithms update?

The Instagram algorithms update frequently because the platform constantly aims to improve the user experience. It does this by learning from users' behavior to show them more of the content they like and less of what they don't. As Instagram learns more about users' preferences and behaviors, it makes adjustments or updates to its algorithms.

There isn't a set schedule for when these updates happen. They could occur a few times a year or even several times a month. Instagram doesn't usually announce these updates, so the best way to stay on top of them is to notice changes in your engagement or reach, or follow official Instagram news for any major changes.

It's also a good idea to continuously experiment with your posting strategy and track your results to see what works best under the current algorithm.

How to use the Instagram algorithms to your advantage?

Listed below are 7 tips to use the Instagram algorithms to your advantage and 'beat it'.

  • Post regularly: To stay relevant and fresh in the minds of your followers, post regularly. This increases your chances of appearing in their feeds and Stories.
  • Engage with your audience: Respond to comments on your posts and interact with your followers. The algorithm favors accounts that have a high level of interaction.
  • Use features like Stories, Live, Reels, and IGTV: Instagram's algorithm tends to promote posts from accounts that use all its features. So, make sure to diversify your content.
  • Post at optimal times: Discover when your followers are most active and post at these times to increase engagement.
  • Encourage engagement: Create content that encourages your audience to like, comment, and share. The more engagement a post has, the more the algorithm is likely to favor it.
  • Use relevant hashtags: Using relevant hashtags on Instagram can make your posts discoverable to a wider audience, beyond just your followers.
  • Stay true to your brand: The algorithm is all about serving up more of what Instagram users like. So, be authentic and consistent with your content, and you'll find your niche.

By understanding and working with Instagram's algorithms, you can increase your reach and engagement on the platform.

What to avoid to stay in favor of the Instagram algorithms?

Listed below are 5 practices to avoid to stay in favor of the Instagram algorithms.

  • Posting low-quality or irrelevant content: Instagram's algorithms reward posts that are engaging and relevant to users. If your content isn't interesting or valuable, your engagement rates will likely be low, which can negatively impact your visibility.
  • Ignoring your audience: It's important to interact with your followers by responding to comments and engaging with their content. If you ignore your audience, the algorithms may assume your content isn't engaging and decrease its visibility.
  • Using irrelevant or spammy hashtags: Using unrelated or overused hashtags can lead to lower engagement rates. It's better to use relevant, specific hashtags that reflect your content.
  • Posting infrequently: If you don't post regularly, your content might be less visible to your followers. Aim to post consistently to keep your audience engaged and the algorithms happy.
  • Buying low quality followers or engagement: Instagram's algorithms are designed to identify and penalize accounts that use these tactics. Purchasing these services is not bad per se, but make sure they are of high-quality.

By avoiding these pitfalls, you can work with the Instagram algorithms to boost your visibility and engagement.

Is it possible to reset the Instagram algorithms?

Resetting Instagram's algorithm isn't a feature provided by Instagram. However, you can indirectly influence it by changing your interaction patterns. The algorithm learns from your actions - likes, comments, shares, and time spent viewing posts or stories.

If you want different content, start interacting with new types of posts and accounts. Engage more with the content you want to see, and less with the content you don't.

Over time, the algorithm will adapt and show you more of the new content you're engaging with. It's like teaching Instagram about your new preferences.


While Instagram's algorithm can seem complex and ever-changing, it becomes more manageable once you understand its basic principles. By creating high-quality, engaging content and interacting with your followers, you can work with the algorithm to enhance your Instagram success.

Margarita López Vázquez, who was born in Madrid, Spain, in 1990, is the driving force behind's marketing and advertising success. She joined the team in 2015 and, since then, has used her enthusiasm for technology and creativity to put the website on the radar.

Margarita López Vázquez OMExpo Marketer
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