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How The Instagram Algorithm Works For Feed Posts

Once upon a time, your Instagram feed was chronological: the latest posts were at the top of your feed, and posts from three days ago were buried unless you scrolled far down enough.

Now, the biggest social media platform’s algorithm is more complex. We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about the algorithm in 2021, and how you can take advantage of its workings to boost your content.


Over the next couple of weeks, here at qorner, we will take you through the ins-and-outs of gaming the algorithm - starting with how to optimise your static feed posts.

Instagram revealed 6 aspects that determine when you see what posts on a feed.

  1. Interest

The algorithm is designed to show people what they are most interested in. This means any posts similar to ones you’ve engaged with before are pushed up on your feed.

As an influencer, this is one reason why consistency is important. If you post once a day, your audience who likes a post on one day is likely to see your content again and again because the algorithm has faith that they like your content.


On the other hand, if you post once in a while, the algorithm doesn’t have clear feedback which suggests that your followers will like your post. And then your post may not be at the top of your audience’s feeds.

2. Relationship

Instagram aims to create a user experience where close relationships and IRL friends are most visible while scrolling through. By analysing who you talk to on DM, which accounts you search for to stalk, or any other interactions on the platform, IG is trying to figure out who you are close to.

There are many types of engagement. Comments, re-shares, likes, saves, and views are the kinds of engagements that decide which accounts Instagram thinks you’re interested in.


3. Timeliness

Instagram aims to be relevant and up-to-date. It wants its users to see the latest trends, posts, and content which is compelling enough to keep them on the platform for longer.

So, in addition to monitoring engagement, Instagram looks at when you post to see how novel and upcoming it is. There are several applications that help you determine what time is the best time to post for your demographic and followers.

Using such a service, and scheduling posts accordingly, allows you to maximise the engagement you’re likely to receive on a post. And that, in turn, will help boost your posts to the top of your followers’ feeds.

4. Frequency

How often somebody uses the platform shapes what content they see. Instagram clarified that the algorithm does not ‘shadowban’ anybody or hide content. It simply prioritises.

That means if you spend enough time on the application, you will see all the posts from the last 3 days. But if you use it only occasionally, then the top posts curated for you will be displayed as soon as you open the app.

5. Following

The more people you follow, the more filtration the algorithm needs to do.

Instagram does its best to remove inactive users and spam accounts, but cleaning up your own follower list is a great way to show that most of your followers are real, active users. This will show high engagement.


6. Usage

Similar to frequency, Instagram confirmed that they do not penalise content creators who post very often. However, if there are many consecutive posts chronologically from the same account, Instagram might break these posts up for a better user experience.

Once you are familiar with these 6 aspects of the algorithm, you can structure your engagement with other content creators and your audience accordingly. For example, encouraging your followers to comment will make it easier for them to see your posts the next time. Maximise your social media presence with insights like these and more. Next week, we’ll look at how the algorithm works for stories, reels, and IGTV videos. Good luck, and get posting!

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