How the Instagram Algorithm Works And How to Beat It

In the past, visibility and engagement on Instagram were fairly easy to achieve because the algorithm posted everything in chronological order.  However, the shift away from chronological to a more complex system based on user preferences and engagement has made the algorithm harder for businesses to understand.

Here we break down top hacks to help you see everything you need to know about it so you can improve your Instagram marketing strategy and develop ways to stay ahead of future algorithmic changes.

How It Works: Predicts How Much You Care About a Post

Instagram doesn’t base your feed just on who you follow but also on who and what you like. The more the algorithm believes that you’ll like the post, the higher it will appear in your feed. This is based on past behavior on similar content and potentially based on machine vision analyzing the actual post content.

Therefore when a post receives a lot of engagement through likes and comments, the algorithm learns that your post is quality and is willing to show it to more people.

Though this explains how viral content spreads like wildfire on the platform, it doesn’t mean you have to reach thousands of likes on every post to get the algorithm to work for you. Instead, you just need to focus on creating quality content that your current and future audience will enjoy and want to engage with.

How to Beat It: Post Consistently

When you post new content consistently to Instagram, you’ll see improved engagement but also tell the algorithm that you are a quality account. The more consistently and frequently you post, the more likely your audience is to see and engage with your content.

However, when it comes to your ideal posting frequency, it depends on you or your business’s goals and the amount of time you have available to dedicate to your Instagram marketing effort.

If you start by posting multiple times a day and then transition to posting only a few times a week, your followers will start to leave you and you will see less engagement on every post.

As such, the best posting frequency for Instagram isn’t posting frequency that you can consistently maintain for the entirety of your brand’s life.

How it Works: Determines Follower Relationships

Many people believe that Instagram not only prioritizes posts with high engagement but might also restrict post-exposure based on your relationship with your followers. If you comment on a lot of someone’s posts or are tagged in photos with them, this tells Instagram that they probably fall into your friends and family category.

So both commenting on other profiles and responding to your own direct messages and comments is important if you want to grow on Instagram.

How to Beat It: Comments are Conversation

You can beat this by treating comments like a conversation – always replying and engaging with comments on your feed to alert the algorithm that you have relationships with your followers. If the comment doesn’t require a response, at least acknowledge it with a heart.

You can make sure you’re not missing anything by adjusting your account settings to include notifications about comments.

How It Works: Timeliness Matters

Instagram’s algorithm is paying attention to how long ago your photo was posted. It’s starting to care more about when you posted rather than just the content or post engagement. The algorithm always aims to serve you with the most interesting and latest posts.

It’s possible to hack the algorithm and increase your reach so you get more likes and followers by posting at a time when the majority of your followers are online.

How to Beat It: Pay Attention to Your Audience Insights

 Use your Instagram insight and activity metrics to find the times of day and days of the week when your audience is most active online. Schedule your Instagram posts to go live during times when the majority of your following is available to see it and engage with it shortly after it is posted.

This signals the Instagram algorithm that the content is popular and increases the chance that it will reach more people.

How It Works: Frequency Sorts Your Posts

Instagram uses how often you use Instagram to sort your posts. If you find yourself frequently scrolling through the platform, your feed looks more chronological because Instagram tries to show you the best post since you last visited.

However, if you check the Instagram I have less often, your food will be sorted more to what Instagram thinks you like.

How To Beat It: Change it Up

If you want to change how your Instagram feed displays itself, start using the platform a little more or a little less depending on the type of change you want to make.

How it Works: Pays Attention to Your Following

How many people are you following on Instagram? if you follow a lot of people, Instagram has more options to choose from so it’s highly likely he will not see all posts from every single account.

How to Beat It: Use the Mute Button

if you don’t think that your feed is showing you the account you want to see, you can start unfollowing them. Or, you can use the mute button to alert Instagram that while you still want to follow this person or account, you don’t want to see as much of their content. 

Engadget calls this a “soft unfollow”. Muting an account allows you to still see posts on their profile page and get notified about any comments or post you’re tagged in. it just removes their posts from your feed.

Any accounts you mute will not receive notification that you’ve needed them. You always have the option to unmute an account if you wish to see their posts in your feed again.

How it Works: Determines Your App Usage

the more time you spend on Instagram,  the more post you’ll see as the algorithm goes deeper into its catalog. If you’re only spending a few minutes each day in the app, then you’re just going to get the highlight reel from the algorithm.

How to Beat It: Change it Up

 If you want to change up the kind of content and how much content you’re seeing, you’ll need to adjust through usage up or down depending on the change you want to make.

It’s also worth noting that the Instagram algorithm determines what you see in your Instagram Stories feed, IGTV and on the explore tab. Its goal is to ensure you are presented with the content you are most likely to enjoy.

Content selection for these areas is based highly on your previous activity on the Instagram platform as well as the engagement rate of the content shown