Everything you need to know about the Instagram algorithm

Earlier this week we guest hosted #ChatGram on Twitter, talking about the Instagram algorithm: What we know about how it works, some tactics we’ve seen influencers using in the wild to boost their engagement around it, and how brands can borrow from those tactics.

In case you missed the chat or just want all of this information in one place for easy reference, we wrote up a quick recap for you.

Got questions or something we missed? Find us on Twitter @UnionMetrics.

What we know about how the Instagram algorithm works

At the Machine Learning @ Scale event in February of this year, Thomas Dimson from Instagram gave a presentation (you can watch it here) about shifting Instagram’s algorithm from chronological to the format we have now, which seems to be primarily weighted by the following factors (or at least these were the factors they used when designing the new feed; some may have changed since February):

  • People whose content you like
  • People you direct message
  • People you search for (signals that you’re interested in an account but not seeing their content)
  • People you know in real life (this information could come from Facebook or photo tags)

We don’t know exactly how each of these factors is weighted, or even if they are, but it can give brands an idea of how to allocate their time on Instagram; perhaps more should be spent interacting with fans, followers and influencers if a brand isn’t spending much of their time doing that currently.

How influencers and brands are keeping up engagement around the algorithm

A lot of influencers have been vocal about their dislike of the new algorithm, claiming their fans and followers are no longer seeing all of their content when they used to.

Posts similar to the one below have been going around on many influencers’ Instagram Stories lately:

insta influencers algorithm


This is counter to Instagram’s own research, which showed that users weren’t seeing 70% of the content in their chronological feed. As Social Media Today reports:

“The solution to this, according to Dimson, is to either get people to follow fewer users, ensuring they always see the content most relevant to them, or to implement an algorithm to highlight the content they’re most likely to engage with, based on the aforementioned factors.”

That was their motivation for reordering the feed; presumably they’re getting feedback from influencers and other high-profile users now on what is and isn’t working for them since the new algorithm has been rolled out for some time.

In the meantime, influencers and brands are attempting to boost their engagement with the algorithm in a few ways, which you can get full details on in our post that covers taking advantage of Instagram Stories and forming pods.

How brands can borrow from these tactics

While pods don’t make as much sense for brands as they do for personal brands and influencers, brands can keep in mind a certain amount of reciprocation can go a long way on Instagram, especially between your brand and your biggest fans and advocates, some of whom might be influencers in their own right. The more steady engagement your posts get, the more likely they are to appear higher up in the feeds of your other followers, giving them the chance to engage more deeply with your content.

You obviously still need to be crafting the most compelling, useful and/or entertaining content possible in the first place.

To know which content is resonating with your audience so you can plan more of it for the future, you need to measure. Let us know if we can help with that! And you can get started with our free checkup below.

Want more engagement on Instagram? Our checkup analyzes the last 30 days of posts, likes and comments on your account to quickly give you key insights into how to improve.

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