Instagram: An overview of how the algorithm works

In 2016, Instagram users missed 70% of all posts and 50% of their acquaintances’ posts. To optimize this, Instagram has developed an algorithm that decides what content to see when you open the app. Accordingly, the algorithm is responsible for which posts appear first in the newsfeed and in which order they are placed on the “Explore” page. This also applies to the playout of stories, live videos, reels and IGTV videos in the feed and in the respective tab.

Instagram: An overview of how the algorithm works

As part of Creator Week in June, Instagram offered some insights and explanations on how to understand the infamous feed algorithm and what factors influence how our feed is displayed.

Instagram explains: “We want to do a better job of explaining how Instagram works. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, and we recognize that we can do more to help people understand what we do. Today, we’re sharing the first in a series of posts that will shed more light on how Instagram’s technology works and how it impacts the experiences that people have across the app.”

The Feed and Story Algorithm

According to Instagram, the following factors are important for the feed and story algorithm:

1. information about the contribution

This is basically about how popular the post is. Also relevant is information about the contribution itself. For example, location links, posting time, and the length of a video have a positive effect on the algorithm.

2. Information about the person who posted

Instagram uses the algorithm to find out how interesting the person might be for the user. This can be seen, for example, by how often the person is interacted with.

3. interaction history with a person

The interaction history shows how much the user is generally interested in seeing posts from a particular person. For example, a frequent liking or commenting signals to the algorithm that the user has a great interest in a particular person.

4. activity

How many posts on which topic the user likes helps the algorithm to understand how much interest there is in a particular topic.

A slightly different algorithm for reels

The algorithm for the fairly new Reels format is somewhat different. Here, the algorithm is specifically designed to play out content that could be entertaining for the user. The following factors are particularly important: the probability of a user watching the reel to the end, whether he likes it and whether he finds it funny. It also matters if the user clicks on the audio page and is even inspired to produce their own reel. Instagram is paying special attention to new and small creators.

What makes TikTok different?

Compared to Instagram, the competitor TikTok has come a long way in this discipline and already uses particularly relevant facts about user behavior to provide users with continuous content that is interesting for them. Instagram also announced it would limit the reach of reels that contain a TikTok watermark or similar. This is to avoid consumers seeing a reel as simply rehashed content from TikTok.


So it remains exciting and it is worthwhile to take the above-mentioned factors into account for a desired growth.


Instagram: An overview of how the algorithm works

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