How the New Instagram Algorithm Should Change Your Social Strategy

How does the Instagram algorithm actually work? This is a question we often first get when clients onboard with us, it’s a question that’s caused a lot of confusion since Instagram moved away from a chronological feed.

In this blog post, we’re sharing how the Instagram algorithm works for feed posts, and how you can improve your ranking.

The Instagram Algorithm in 2021

If you’ve spent any time on Instagram, you’ll know that the algorithm can behave in mysterious ways, but once you understand how it works, you can begin to work alongside it.

Here’s everything you need to know to understand the Instagram Algorithm in 2021:

How the Instagram Algorithm Works for Feed Posts in 2021

According to Instagram, there are 6 key factors that influence the Instagram algorithm for feed posts:

1. Interest
2. Relationship
3. Timeliness
4. Frequency
5. Following
6. Usage

Factor #1: Interest
Your Instagram feed isn’t only based on who you follow, it’s also based on the accounts and types of posts you’ve liked historically.

The more the Instagram algorithm thinks you will “like” a certain type of post, the higher it will appear in your feed.

Basically, what you see in your Instagram feed is a combination of all of your Instagram behaviors. The accounts you interact with the most, the people you are tagged in photos with, and of course, the type of posts that you like and comment on.

This is why consistently showing up on Instagram is so important.

It sends positive signals to the Instagram algorithm — and gives your audience more opportunities to interact with your content.

What Engagements Are Most Important to the Instagram Algorithm?

When it comes to feed performance, we know the algorithm prioritizes content that receives the most engagement.

According to Instagram, the most important engagements for feed ranking are comments, likes, reshares, and views for videos, which is really helpful to know as you plan your content and captions.

Factor #2: Relationship
The Instagram algorithm wants to prioritize posts from your friends, family, and accounts that you care about.

So in order for Instagram to show you what you want, the algorithm uses your interactions to piece together who is closest to you.

People whose content you like (possibly including stories and live videos)
People you direct message
People you search for
People you know in real life

Instagram will try to calculate this relationship (and your interest level) as soon as you follow someone by serving you their content and monitoring how you engage with it.

Factor #3: Timeliness
Not only does the algorithm pay attention to how much engagement your Instagram post gets, but it also looks at how long ago the photo was posted.

Instagram’s algorithm cares about when you posted, because it always wants to serve you the latest, most interesting posts.

By finding your personalized best time to post on Instagram, you can hack the algorithm to increase your reach and get more likes and followers.

And if you post at a time when your followers are online and most active, you give yourself a better chance of getting more likes.

Factor #4: Frequency
How often do you open the Instagram app? If you’re a frequent scroller, your feed will look more chronological, since Instagram tries to show you the best posts since your last visit.

If you check the Instagram app less often, your feed will be sorted into what Instagram thinks you’ll like, instead of chronologically.

Factor #5: Following
How many people do you follow on Instagram? If you follow a lot of people, then Instagram has more options to choose from, so you probably won’t see all of the posts from every account.

On a related note, it could be worth systematically removing inactive or “ghost” followers.

If a large percentage of your following is inactive, they could be doing more harm than good for your account’s algorithmic ranking.

Factor #6: Usage
If you spend a lot of time on Instagram, you’re going to see more posts as Instagram digs deeper into its catalog.

If you spend enough time on Instagram, you can even run out of new content to see. Once this happens, the algorithm will serve you suggested content from new accounts — based on your previous interactions.

However, if you only spend a few minutes in the app each day, then you’re going to just get the day’s highlights from the algorithm.

How to Improve Your Ranking with the Instagram Algorithm

If you want to improve your ranking with the Instagram algorithm, the best thing you can do is drive as many interactions (likes, comments, DMs, saves, and shares) as possible.

And by building momentum with your existing community, you’ll soon find your content is being surfaced to new audiences.The most important thing is to keep engaging with your audience at the heart of your strategy.

Building a genuine relationship with your followers is the most powerful way to “hack” the algorithm and, most importantly, it will work wonders for your brand too.

Let’s Chat

Interested in hearing how Good Commerce can elevate your social media management? Contact us to book a Brand Discovery session and let’s start achieving your business goals together.


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