Instagram Algorithm 2021: How To Conquer It

Instagram Algorithm 2021: How To Conquer It

Sep 7, 2021 14 min read

Ever since Instagram has switched from the classic chronological feed, its algorithms have become the topic of several discussions and debates.

Instagram is constantly evolving. Just last year, Facebook introduced the new shop feature, which allows social media users to set up their online business and sell products (even without a website) on Facebook and Instagram.

However, that is not the only feature of Instagram that has changed. Recently, Instagram has introduced lots of improvements within its algorithm. It continues to curate and organize its feed to provide more relevant content to its users.

The head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, shared his two cents on how the Instagram algorithm works by publishing a blog post on June 8, 2021.

The Instagram algorithm 2021 dictates which content gets pushed to the top of user feeds. If the Instagram algorithm 2021 does not favor you, your posts will fall behind.

This blog post will share how the Instagram algorithm 2021 works for feed posts, stories, explore pages, reels, and IGTV, along with tips to hack the Instagram algorithm for higher engagement. Let's get to it!

You can directly jump to a section of your choice or keep scrolling.

First Things First, What Is The Instagram Algorithm 2021?

We use a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose. Each part of the app – Feed, Explore, Reels – uses its own algorithm tailored to how people use it. - Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram

The Instagram algorithm 2021 is a highly sophisticated system designed for how users find content across the platform. Initially, the algorithm simply followed a chronological pattern. You would see the newest posts on your feed first without any other factor playing a role.

The algorithm is influenced by several ranking factors that make each user's feed tailored to their usage and what Instagram thinks they will like to see … quite literally.

The Instagram algorithm is often changing. The Instagram @creators account is set to bust some of the most common myths and rumors about its algorithm, answer the commonly asked questions and interact with creators across the platform.

Instagram Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Creators Instagram

In an effort to improve transparency in 2021, Instagram has further broken down the algorithm to organize content in users' feeds.

We are sure your eyes will glaze when you realize how elusive the Instagram algorithm 2021 actually is. It can behave in mysterious ways, but it can be tailored to work with your Instagram content strategy once you understand it.

How Does The Instagram Algorithm 2021 Work? - The Six Principal Ranking Signals

The type of content that Instagram displays on a user's feed (be it an image post, carousal, reels, IGTV, or on explore page) is majorly based on six ranking signals.

1. Interests

Instagram shows its users the content that they will highly engage with by considering their behaviors and interests. For instance, if a user constantly views, comments, or likes on food-related videos and photos, Instagram will most likely deliver similar kinds of content to their feed.

2. Relationships With Other Users

The Instagram algorithm 2021 detects interaction among several users to understand which content the users like to see the most. If a user constantly likes and comments on a specific creator's posts, that user will most likely see more of that particular creator's content in their feed.

3. Frequency Of Instagram Use

Frequency is about how often you are on the app. Based on your screen time, Instagram will organize posts in your feed. If you are spending little time on the app, it will show you what it thinks you will like over a while. If you spend a lot of time using the app, your feed might be more chronological because Instagram wants to offer you the best and latest posts, and it will show you the best posts since your last visit.

4. Usage

Avid Instagram user's feeds are more likely to be filled with more variety of content because that's how the Instagram algorithm 2021 functions. You don't have to worry about them running out of ideas to show posts on your feed if you follow a large number of creators.

With a higher frequency of usage, the algorithm will have more information to showcase relevant content on a user's feed.

5. Number Of Follows

Instagram takes a note of how many pages/accounts/creators you follow to prioritize different posts in your feed. When you follow a large number of creators, there might be fewer posts from specific ones. It all comes back to how often you engage with the accounts that you follow.

Following more accounts gives Instagram a chance to choose from more content. The more Instagram accounts that you follow, the more posts you are likely to miss.

6. Timeliness

Instagram wants you to remain up-to-date with trends and seasons. It's doubtful that you will see a Halloween-themed post in January. You will most likely see the trending post on top of your feed.

Instagram will check the timeliness of a post to determine if it is still relevant to a user's interests. Instagram ensures that every user's feed is filled with timely content as new posts are more essential to people.

Know more about Top 5 Instagram Marketing Trends For 2021!

How Does Instagram Algorithm 2021 Rank Feed Posts?

Instagram has gone into further detail to describe how the key factors affect the content appearing on the feed. These crucial factors in order of importance include:

Information About The Post

This includes how trending a post is, the number of likes it has got, the time it was published, where it was posted from, and how long a video post tends to go.

Information About The Content Founder

This includes how exciting or valuable the creator is to the user and how much engagement the creator has obtained in the past few weeks.

User Action

Instagram understands what the user might be interested in seeing from its recent activity, like how many posts they have liked.

A Users History Of Interacting With The Content Creator

This signal points to how interested a user is in seeing posts from a specific creator. An illustration could be if the user and the creator have commented on each other's posts.

Here are the five interactions that Instagram views when looking for content that should appear on the user’s feed. Instagram sees how likely a user is to

  • Spend a couple of seconds on the post
  • Comment on the post
  • Just like the post
  • Conserve/Save the post
  • Tap on the profile picture associated with the post

There are some exceptional cases where the algorithm takes other factors into account. Those cases are

  • Your feed will avoid showing too many posts in a row by the same person.
  • Any Instagram content that does not comply with the community guidelines is taken down.
  • Instagram makes all of your content harder to appear in users' feeds when you constantly post misinformation.

Instagram Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Creators Instagram

How Does Instagram Story Algorithm Work?

Instagram stories appear at the start of users' feeds. The Instagram story algorithm ensures that you view the latest stories from the accounts you engage with the most. You could be engaging through likes, comments, shares, saves, tagging in photos, DMs, etc.

When you are just starting out with Instagram marketing, you need to pay extra attention to posting stories. Posting stories consistently is an excellent way to reach your audience and deliver your message.

Know more about Instagram Stories : 5 Tips To Improve Engagement

Instagram users browse their stories daily (as stories have a lifetime of only 24 hours). Hence, consistent publishing is the only strategy to get more eyeballs. This also ensures that both the viewers and creators remain active on Instagram daily. Using location and hashtags in your stories further refines it for better reach.

The timelines of posting also affect the Instagram story algorithm. The most recent and freshly posted stories appear in the front line on the user's feed. Hence you must keep posting stories at different times of the day rather than posting all stories at once.

Instagram constantly rolls out new features to add to stories. As a creator, you should make use of these features to the full of your advantage to keep your audience interested and hooked in your content. Use the polls feature to understand your audience's preferences or take their feedback. Also, use the 'DM me' sticker in your stories to strike exciting conversations on a 1 to 1 level with your followers.

Instagram Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Statusbrew Instagram

When you go live on Instagram, your stream is pushed to the first spot in the row of stories. Your followers are also notified as soon as you start a live stream, letting them know that you have gone live and should join you.

Know more about Instagram Story Analytics: Understanding Stories Metrics

How Does The Instagram Algorithm 2021 Work For Reels?

If you want to get the best out of your Instagram marketing, it is crucial to focus on video content. You have two video content formats on Instagram - reels and IGTV. Rather than just posting photos, you should also concentrate on IGTV and reels as they drive better engagement and provide increased reach.

The Instagram algorithm 2021 for reels gives more priority to accounts you engage and interact with the most. For instance, if you like, comment, view, and share IGTV or reels videos of a specific Instagram account, this sends a signal to the Instagram algorithm that you are enjoying the content of that account.

If you want to gain a higher reach on our reels, you should share it on your story after posting them on your feeds. This way, even if your reel does not appear at the top of your follower’s feed, they can still know that you have posted a reel and watch it. Another fantastic way of increasing reach on reels is by using relevant hashtags.

The Instagram algorithm 2021 for reels suggests content from creators it thinks you will find entertaining. For the most part, you will see reels from creators in your feed you don't even follow, but you might have shown interest in the topic or the audio or the creator's reel sometime.

Here's are the ranking signals in order of importance that the Instagram algorithm for reels looks for:

User Activity

Instagram looks at the reels that the user has liked, commented on, and engaged with recently. This tells Instagram what is relevant to the user.

Interaction History

Instagram looks if you have ever engaged with this creator's reels in the past. If you don't follow the creator, but if you have ever liked, commented, or watched any of their reel on repeat, you will most likely see them again in your feed.

Information On The Reel

Instagram sees if the audio track that has been used in the reel is trending or not, the popularity of the reel, its pixels and whole frames, and the content.

Information About The Creator

How compelling do other users find the creator's content? If a creator has a lot of reels going viral, it indicates Instagram that users love their content, and they will share more of it in several users' feeds.

Instagram ignores reels due to

  • Low-resolution video
  • Watermarking
  • Related to political issues
  • Content shared by political figures, parties, or governments

Know more about 7(+1) Tips To Get Discovered On Instagram Reels

Instagram Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Statusbrew Instagram

How Does The Instagram Algorithm 2021 Work For IGTV?

The Instagram algorithm 2021 for IGTV works similarly to the reels algorithm. Instagram suggests the IGTV that you are most likely to be interested in.

IGTVs are long-form video content on Instagram that lasts up to 15 minutes when uploaded through mobile and 1 hour in the case of a website.

To stretch your IGTV reach, post a preview on your feed to give a sneak peek to your followers. This boosts the Instagram algorithm 2021 for IGTV and provides it with a positive signal.

Instagram Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Creators Instagram

The Instagram algorithm 2021 prioritizes IGTV from the creators you interact with most and the topics you engage with most in your feed. Instagram also suggests IGTV videos on your explore page according to what they think a user might be interested in.

Know more about Four Tips To Increase Engagement On Instagram Live

Instagram Explore Page Algorithm

The explore page essentially shows you content entirely from new creators!

Instagram explore page algorithm functions very similar to the feed's algorithm. Both the algorithms essentially deliver content that seems interesting and relevant to them for different users.

You can actually search for keywords in the explore pages. This will show posts matching those keywords. This suggests that the explore page takes into account much more than just relevance and engagement. It also recognizes what is in the post and relates it back to keywords that are searched.

By sharing great content, using strong, engaging captions, using relevant hashtags, you are contributing towards being shown on the explore page!

Know more about 350 Best Instagram Captions For 2021

Unlike feeds and stories where the majority of posts that you see are from people you follow, the explore page shows posts recommendations from people you don't follow.

To find out if your post has been ever featured on the explore page, go onto your post and view the post insights. You will come to know where the reach on your post has arrived from!

Know more about How To See Post Insights On Instagram

Instagram Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Hopper HQ

The Instagram explore page algorithm is a series of steps taken to create a unique explore feed for every Instagram user. A multitude of factors that the algorithm takes into account to choose the content that best fits your interests are given below.

Information About The Post

How many and how quickly have people liked, commented, shared, and saved the post. These are more critical ranking signals for the Instagram explore page algorithm than they are for feeds and stories.

A User's Interacting History With The Content Creator

Mostly, the post will be shared by someone you have never heard of. If you have ever interacted with them, that gives Instagram a sense that you might be interested in what they share.

A User's Activity On Instagram

Indicates the piece of content that you gravitate towards. As an instance, if you prefer video over photo content or vice versa.

Information Concerning The Content Creator

The number of Instagram users who have interacted with the post in the last few weeks and how many times they have interacted with it.

Instagram follows the recommendation guidelines as the set of rules for deciding which post should be featured on the explore page. You will most likely not be shown content that promotes tobacco on your explore page.

What Does Instagram Algorithm 2021 Not Rank? - Instagram Shadowban

Shadowban is one of the most common issues of Instagram that restrict your content visibility. It also refrains from showing up your posts on the explore page. There becomes a shadow on the posts that prevent them from being seen by other Instagram users.

Instagram's shadowban algorithm is not very transparent at present. This leaves creators even more confused when their posts never went against the guidelines. Hence, Instagram is working on developing in-app notifications so that creators know why their post was taken down. They are also exploring ways to let creators know when what they post goes against the recommendations guidelines.

Several reasons that cause a shadowban on your Instagram posts include

  • Using banned hashtags
  • Using a specific set of hashtags for a long time
  • Crossing the daily limits of posting on Instagram
  • Getting reported by others

Know more about How To Avoid Getting Blocked Or Banned By Instagram

How To Beat The Instagram Algorithm?

The Instagram algorithm 2021 might be tough to crack but is not impossible. Here are some tips for outsmarting the Instagram algorithm 2021 and improving your account's performance and reach.

Using Instagram's Newest Features

Instagram always puts in extra effort to popularize its newly added features. As a creator, being among the first ones to jump on the bandwagon will bring you even more significant dividends than you may think at a glance. One of the most recent examples is the introduction of Instagram reels. Everyone who uses it gains an extra advantage of this boost while the platform is making a move to promote it.

Post Carousels

Carousels are a great way to get audiences to spend more time with your content and boost post engagement. Carousel posts pull 3x the engagement and 1.4x the reach of other post types.

Leverage this feature by posting up to 10 swipe-worthy images, whether it's a collection of customer reviews, before-and-after shots, your favorite pieces of user-generated content, or event recaps.

Know more about 5 Reasons Why Instagram Carousels Are A Secret Weapon For Instagram Marketing!

Engagement Is The Key

In the social era of 2021, nothing is more important than engagement. If you want to grow your account and want people to engage with your content, you need to engage with others first.

For the Instagram algorithm 2021, the comments are much more important and valued than likes. The more comments you get, the more are the chances of your post landing in people's feed.

Optimize A Hashtag Strategy

If you want your content to reach beyond your follower's range who are likely to engage, hashtags are the best way out. When choosing hashtags for your posts, research your target audience and the hashtags you want to fall in front of your audience . Find the best mix of your niche and the trending hashtags to get excellent results. Ensure not to use banned, spammy or wrong hashtags.

In a recent study, Instagram revealed that up to 5 to 6 hashtags work best in captions.

Know more about 300+ Best Hashtags For Instagram In 2021

Instagram Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Statusbrew Instagram

Be Consistent With Your Posting Schedule

Since the Instagram algorithm 2021 favors recent posts, posting on a consistent basis is always encouraged. Posting daily is not essential but posting consistently is. While posting daily will bring a significant level of engagement, you can plan to post every other day, three times each week, or every weekend.

Make a note to post when your audience is most active and schedule your content to go live at that time, every time.

Know more about The Best Times To Post On Instagram In 2021

Instagram Algorithm 2021

Switch Content Formats

Switching up content format not only keeps things interesting for your audience but also gets your posts favored by the Instagram algorithm 2021. Use a combination of available features, including regular feed posts, stories, shoppable posts, reels, IGTV, and so on.

The Instagram algorithm 2021 prefers accounts that use:

  • Instagram's in-app camera and filters
  • IG's messaging tool
  • Geolocation tags
  • Story buttons and stickers

Instagram Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Statusbrew Instagram

Measuring Your Instagram Post Success With Statusbrew

The Instagram Insights section provides data only from the past seven days. However, by connecting your Instagram profiles with Statusbrew, you can easily measure insights beyond just 7 days.

Statusbrew's Instagram Report allows you to understand the impact of your social efforts with 130+ social media metrics. From audience growth and demographics, top engaged posts, stats by channel, engagements, impressions, reach, to sentiment analysis, you get the most meaningful insights to optimize engagements on your posts and gain maximum social ROI.

Instagram Algorithm 2021

Statusbrew's intelligent reporting feature extracts the best time to post on Instagram for your brand and allows you to schedule content so that it automatically gets published at that time.

Statusbrew's Instagram Story insights analyze how your stories are performing w.r.t different metrics. It also provides insights into the first 24 hours from the time the story was posted.

Start your free trial today and see for yourself!

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Rushali Das

Rushali is a content writer at Statusbrew. She is fond of writing content that compels people to slow down and look more closely to discover the unknown stories.