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10 Instagram Algorithm Facts You Should Know


By Jillian Warren

Published July 15, 2021

7 minute read

Discover the top 10 Instagram algorithm facts you should know — as confirmed by Instagram themselves!

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Stay on top of the biggest social media marketing trends!

There are plenty of rumors when it comes to the Instagram algorithm.

At Later, we’re all about the facts. No hearsay here, thank you next.

We’re sharing the top 10 Instagram algorithm facts you should know — as confirmed by Instagram themselves.

10 Instagram Algorithm Facts You Should Know:

  1. There are Multiple Instagram Algorithms Working Across the App

  2. The Feed Algorithm Determines Ranking Based on Four Key Factors

  3. The Feed Algorithm Also Considers the Likelihood of Five “Important” Interactions

  4. Adding Someone to Your Close Friends List Boosts Their Ranking

  5. Timeliness is an Important Signal, But Not the Only Signal

  6. All Account Types Are Treated Equally (Personal, Business, and Creator)

  7. Every Comment Counts as an Interaction

  8. The Number of Interactions in the First 30 Minutes Does Not Determine Ranking

  9. The Feed Algorithm Does Not Favor Video Over Photos

  10. Bots and Comment Pods Don’t Work

#1: There are Multiple Instagram Algorithms Working Across the App

You’ll often hear the Instagram algorithm referred to as a singular concept, but in fact, there are multiple algorithms at play.

For example, the Instagram feed algorithm is different to the Instagram Explore Page algorithm, and the IGTV algorithm is different to the Instagram Reels algorithm.

While each algorithm is slightly different for each experience, they all work on the same principle: to deliver content that users are most likely to find interesting.

#2: The Feed Algorithm Calculates Ranking Based on Four Key Factors

In a recent Instagram Live, Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, shared exactly how the Instagram feed algorithm works.

During the broadcast, Mosseri revealed the most important factors that the Instagram algorithm takes into account:

  • Information about the post itself: Is it a photo or a video? What subject is it about? Does it have a lot of likes?

  • Information about the poster: Are they a friend? Do they post often?

  • Your activity: Do you tend to watch a lot of videos? What content do you typically engage with?

  • Your interaction history: Do you like or comment on a lot of the poster’s posts?

Based on this information, the algorithm calculates how likely someone is to interact with a post, known as a score of interest, which ultimately determines the order in which posts are displayed in someone’s feed.

#3: The Feed Algorithm Also Considers the Likelihood of Five “Important” Interactions

During the Live, Mosseri also shared which interactions are “important” to the Instagram algorithm.

These key interactions, or “proxies,” as Mosseri refers to them, are taken into account by the algorithm when determining feed ranking:

  • Time spent: Are you going to spend time on the post?

  • Like: How likely are you to like the post?

  • Comment: How likely are you to comment on the post?

  • Save: How likely are you to save the post?

  • Tap on Profile: How likely are you to tap on the profile after seeing the post?

If the algorithm calculates that someone is unlikely to carry out any of these interactions on a post, it will be deprioritized in their feed.

#4: Adding Someone to Your Close Friends List Boosts Their Ranking

Adding someone to your Close Friends list is also an indicator to Instagram’s algorithms.

If you add someone to your Close Friends list, you’ll probably see their posts and stories bumped higher when you open the app.

On the flip side, if you indicate you are not interested in a specific post on the Explore Page, you are effectively deprioritizing that type of content with the Instagram algorithm.

**#5: Timeliness is an Important Signal, But Not the Only Signal

**

When it comes to Instagram’s algorithms, timeliness (i.e. when a post was shared) is important.

However, it is not the only signal — “the feed is roughly, but not strictly, chronological,” explains Mosseri.

This means that a post could be shown ahead of a more recent one, if the algorithm determines it to have a higher score of interest for that user.

However, as more time passes, recency (or the lack of it) will outweigh the score of interest — and the algorithm will favor newer posts instead.

#6: All Account Types Are Treated Equally (Personal, Business, and Creator)

In a series of stories on the Creators account, Instagram confirmed that all account types are treated equally when it comes to the algorithms.

This means that you can have a personal, business, or a creator account — and it doesn’t make any difference to how your content performs.

Switching to an Instagram Business account allows you to get more insights into how your content is performing, and it also means you can auto publish your posts with Later — so you can say goodbye to those late night logins!

#7: Every Comment Counts as an Interaction

One of the longest-running myths about the Instagram algorithm is that it doesn’t count comments that are less than three words in length.

The reality? All comments are taken into account, even if they only contain an emoji or two.

In fact, it all depends on the individual user. If they regularly engage with your content, odds are you’ll rank higher in their Instagram feed.

Comments are an important engagement indicator for the Instagram algorithm, so with this in mind, it’s a good idea to reply to your comments on a regular basis.

Not only will this keep conversations active on your posts, but it also shows your audience that you’re engaged — which can be great for promoting more interactions.

TIP: Use Later’s Conversations inbox to view all of your most recent comments in a feed on your desktop, so you can easily review and reply to all your conversations.

#8: The Number of Interactions in the First 30 Minutes Does Not Determine Ranking

Instagram has confirmed that the number of interactions a post receives in its first 30 minutes does not determine feed ranking.

As we’ve shared above, the feed algorithm determines post ranking based on four key factors, and these are not capped at the 30 minute mark.

However, it is a good idea to share your posts to align with when your audience is most likely to engage with your content.

TIP: Use Later’s Best Time to Post feature to automatically calculate your seven top posting times based on your best performing posts from recent months.

Upgrade to one of Later’s Starter, Growth or Advanced plans today and start capitalizing on your best times to post.

#9: The Feed Algorithm Does Not Favor Video Over Photos

Instagram’s feed algorithm has zero bias between photo and video content.

However, video content is typically more engaging and gets more “time spent” per post, two important indicators for the algorithm.

As such, video content generally outperforms photo content on the app — a key factor to take note of.

#10: Bots and Comment Pods Don’t Work

Thanks to Instagram’s machine learning algorithm, fake interactions (such as using bots or comment pods) will always be identified and ranked as such.

In an Instagram Stories Q&A, Instagram shared that the best way to build sustainable engagement is by being authentic and transparent on the platform.

In short? Trying to cheat the system doesn’t work, no matter how elaborate your scheme is.

If you genuinely want to improve your algorithm ranking in 2021, the most important thing is to post consistently and regularly engage with your audience.

And there you have it, the top Instagram algorithm facts you should know!

Building a genuine relationship with your followers is the most powerful way to “hack” the algorithm, and keep your audience coming back for more!

Start scheduling with Later, the #1 Instagram marketing platform trusted by over 2 million businesses! Sign up now – it’s free!

Stay on top of the biggest social media marketing trends!

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