This is some text inside of a div block.
Social Media News
How the Instagram Algorithm Works
Global partnership enables...

How the Instagram Algorithm Works

Social Media News
June 10, 2021

Table of contents

Share this

I think it’s safe to say that all of us at some point in time have been a little confused by how Instagram’s algorithm works. The days of confusion are over! Instagram just released an article highlighting how their algorithm, rankings, and more work within their app.

What exactly is an “algorithm”?

One of the main misconceptions is that there is one algorithm that controls what you do and do not see. Instagram actually has many algorithms, classifiers and processes and each one has its own purpose. When Instagram first launched, the stream of photos was in chronological order. After a while, they noticed that a lot of users were missing posts from their closest connections. In 2016, Instagram introduced a Feed that ranked posts based on what you interact with and care about the most. Each area of the app uses a different algorithm such as; people want to see their closest friend’s Stories but turn to the Explore page to see something new.

Feed and Stories

Feed and Stories are the main areas users go to see their friends and family’s activity. With the Feed and Stories algorithm, there are a few steps. First, it gathers all of the recent posts shared by the people you follow with the exception of ads. From there, Instagram takes all of the information it’s receiving from “signals”. Here are the most important signals coming from Feed and Stories:

  • Information about the post
  • Information about the person who posted
  • Your activity
  • Your history of interacting with someone

After gathering signals, Instagram will make a set of predictions. These predictions are created by guessing how likely you are to engage with a post including commenting, liking, saving and taping on the profile photo. Judging by the actions you take, you will be more likely to see that accounts posts higher on your feed. Signals and predictions are added and removed over time.

Instagram post

Explore Page

The Explore page was designed so that the grid is made up of photos and videos that are found specifically for you. To gather the photos and videos that you may like, Instagram looks for signals such as posts that you’ve liked, commented on or saved in the past. Once those have been gathered, Instagram then orders them on how interested they think you will be in each. The signals that Instagram looks for the most in potential videos and photos on your Explore page are:

  • Information about the post
  • Your history of interacting with whoever posted it
  • Your activity
  • Information about the person who posted


Like the Explore page, Reels are mostly made up of accounts that you don’t follow. Because of that, Instagram goes through a very similar process. They will find reels they think you would like and then order them according to how interesting they could be to you. The most important prediction Instagram looks for when it comes to Reels is if you will watch that Reel all the way through. The most important signals include the below:

  • Your activity
  • Your history of interacting with the person who posted
  • Information about the Reel
  • Information about the person who posted

Thinking about creating your own Reels? These factors will limit your distribution.

  • Low resolution
  • Watermarks
  • Political issues
  • Reels made by political figures, parties, government officials or on their behalf
  • Instagram Reels

    The Search Function

    Have you ever tried to search for a person or company on Instagram but they didn't pop up at the top of the search list? Here are some important signals Instagram looks for when you search.

  • The text within the search bar
  • Your activity on the app such as likes, clicks, comments and saves
  • Help your profile show up in Search more by:

  • Creating a fitting Instagram handle for your brand
  • Have a profile name that is fitting in your bio
  • Add relevant keywords and hashtags in your post captions
  • Put relevant keywords and locations in your bio
  • Shadowbanning

    Shadowbanning has turned into a term that many people use to describe different experiences on Instagram. Instagram is developing more effective in-app notifications so that if your account becomes Shadowbanned, you will know exactly when it happens, why it is happening and what guidelines were broken.

    Tips on how to influence what you see on Instagram

    You influence what you see and don’t see on your Instagram feed. Looking to create a more consistent feed? Follow these tips below:

    • Select your Close Friends. You have the option to choose Close Friends for Instagram Stories. This will help prioritize these friends in your feed.
    • Mute people, you’re not interested in.
    • If you see a recommended post on your Explore page or in your Feed that you don’t enjoy, mark it as “not interested”.

    Thank you, Instagram, for giving us a little more context around how everything works! To learn more, check out the article from Instagram here.

    Social Media News

    Popular articles

    Subscribe to our blog
    Share this

    Close all those tabs

    Use HeyOrca to manage your social media content, approvals, and community in one place.

    Try it free

    *no card required

    By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.