I would love to share a few facts about how does the Instagram algorithm work. There are 7 factors that determine how your post will perform in the Instagram algorithm (and how many people will see it!). Later.com listed the 7 factors and ranked them in order of importance, based off their own research and conversations with social media managers. Here it is:
1. How Much Engagement You Get
In general, posts with high engagement (likes, comments, shares, views, etc.) will rank higher on your Instagram feed. When a post receives a ton of likes and comments, this signals to the Instagram algorithm that your post is quality, engaging content that more people will want to see, so the Instagram algorithm will show it to more users.
But it isn’t always about how much engagement a post receives. In some cases, the Instagram algorithm cares more about how quickly a post receives its engagement! One of the best known cases of this is trending Instagram hashtags. Even though the amount of engagement you get is really important, it’s slightly less important than how quickly you get that engagement.
This is why finding your best time to post on Instagram and then scheduling posts for those times is so important: if you post when the most people will see it, you increase your chance of getting more likes, quicker, which then helps boost your post in the algorithm.
2. How Long People Spend Viewing Your Post
The Facebook algorithm looks at the length of time you spend interacting with content, and it’s no different with Instagram! The Instagram algorithm uses the amount of time spent viewing a post as a key factor in determining how much to boost your post.
If you want to beat the Instagram algorithm, crafting great Instagram captions might just be the key. If you have an engaging caption, people are more likely to actually read it or click the “more” button, which increases the time spent on your post.
This is also why videos (or Boomerangs, which are posted in video format) perform so well in the Instagram algorithm: because it takes more time to watch them! Slideshow posts with a call-to-action to “swipe” to view more could be a good strategy to try as well.
3. Your Friends, Family, and Favorite Accounts
The Instagram algorithm is pretty smart! If you engage with a particular account regularly, you’re telling Instagram that you really like that account’s content. As a result, Instagram will show you more of that person’s content in your feed! This is why you probably see your mom’s Instagram posts at the top of your feed, even if she only has 20 followers and a few likes on each photo!
Same thing goes for people who love your content: if they are regularly liking, commenting, watching your Instagram Stories, or saving your content, your posts are more likely to be shown to them.
4. When Your Photo Was Posted
Another factor that the Instagram algorithm takes into consideration is the timeliness of a post, aka how recently it was posted. The Instagram algorithm will likely show you more recent posts rather than posts from a few days or weeks ago — however this isn’t always the case.
It really depends on how often you browse Instagram. If you only open the app a few times per week, you’re more likely to see top posts from a few days ago, to catch up on anything you missed.
In general, Instagram posts today have a longer half-life than they used to, meaning that more people can see your posts over a longer period of time. This is why you’re probably still getting likes from a photo you posted yesterday or the day before!
5. What Type of Content It Is
If the only factor the Instagram algorithm cared about was engagement, then we’d all see the exact same content! Luckily, the “genre” or type of content you engage with plays a big role in what content you see on your feed.
Have you ever noticed that if you engage with a bunch of accounts of a certain genre (sports highlights, for example), Instagram will begin showing you more of that content? This is the relevancy factor at play. If Instagram determines that you like a particular type of content, such as the NBA, it will do its best to show you other similar content that it thinks you will also find interesting, like posts from the LA Lakers.
6. If You’ve Searched For the Account
It might sound trivial, but another factor that the Instagram algorithm takes into consideration is what accounts you search for on Instagram. When you search for a specific account, Instagram takes this as a signal that you enjoy that account’s content and might show you more of their content in your Instagram feed.
7. Sharing Your Post in DM’s
Even though there’s no way to tell how many times your Instagram post has been shared in a direct message with someone, Instagram is still keeping track.
When you share a post with another user, Instagram counts this as a form of engagement, and assumes that you’re interested in seeing more of that type of content. So if you create awesome, engaging content that people are sharing with your friends, your posts could perform better in the Instagram algorithm.