Instagram – the land of filters, hashtags, and endless scrolling. But what’s the secret sauce behind getting your content noticed in this vast sea of photos and videos? The Instagram algorithm, a complex set of rules that determines what appears on your feed.

NB: This is an article from 3&6, one of our Expert Partners

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Summer last year the head of Instagram shared the first insight into how the various algorithms actually works. We’ve unraveled the intricacies, from how your Feed is ranked to what matters in Stories, Explore, and Reels. Armed with this knowledge you can strategize your content successfully.

What Is the Instagram Algorithm?

Before we unravel the magic behind going viral, let’s break down what exactly an algorithm is. In simple terms, an algorithm is a set of rules or processes that Instagram uses to decide what content appears on your Feed.

But here’s the twist – Instagram doesn’t have just one algorithm. It has a smorgasbord of algorithms, each tailored to different parts of the app.

So let’s break it down.

How Feed Is Ranked

A users’ Instagram Feed is personalized, serving up posts from friends, family, and accounts they follow. But how does it decide what to show first? Well, it takes into account everything from who they follow and engage with to the type of content they prefer, using signals to track their interests.

The Signals That Matter

So, what signals does Instagram use to determine user interests? It’s a medley of factors:

Activity: This includes the posts they’ve liked, shared, saved, or commented on – all revealing their interests.

Information About the Post: Instagram looks at how popular a post is, when it was posted, and even its location.

The Person Who Posted: If they’ve been interacting with someone’s posts, Instagram notices and bumps their posts higher up the Feed.

Relationship History: If a user engages with an account frequently, such as  commenting on posts, Instagram takes note.

From these signals, Instagram makes educated guesses about how likely they are to interact with a post. The more likely they are to engage, the higher that post will appear on their feed. It’s like a game of predicting their next move.

How Stories Are Ranked

Viewing History: How often they check out an account’s stories. If they’re a frequent viewer, those stories get priority.

Engagement History: Liking posts and sliding into DMs? If they’re actively engaging with an account, Instagram knows.

How Explore Is Ranked

Explore is a ticket to discovering new things on Instagram. It’s a mix of posts from accounts user’s don’t follow, carefully curated to pique their interest.

Here’s what goes into it:

Information About the Post: Post popularity matters – how many people are engaging with it and how quickly.

User Activity: If they’ve liked, saved, shared, or commented on a specific type of post, Instagram will try to serve them more of the same.

History of Interacting: You could think of this in a similar vein to re-marketing. If a user has interacted with an account in the past (even if they don’t follow them), Instagram would be more likely to show their posts on the user’s Explore page.

How Reels Are Ranked

Reels are Instagram’s spotlight for entertainment. To keep you entertained, they consider:

User Activity: Content user’s have engaged with in the past determines what reels they see.

History of Interacting: Just like Explore, past interactions matter here too.

Information About the Content: Instagram looks at the audio track and visuals used. This highlights the importance of utilizing trending sounds when you create Reels.

How can you hack the algorithm?

Now you know how the algorithm works, how can you optimize this information with your own Instagram strategy?

Read the full article at 3&6