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How To Work The IG Algorithm: Stories and Reels

Last week, we took you through how the Instagram algorithm works for feed posts. Today, let’s take a look at two newer formats of the platform - reels and stories - and how the 2021 Instagram algorithm works with them.

The most important thing to remember is that Instagram moved from chronological display of posts to a more complex format for one reason: so that people could see posts they care about. In the old days of chronology, users were missing most of their friends’ posts and seeing whatever random content happened to be at the top of their feed.

So, keeping this in mind, your goal as a creator must be to allow the algorithm to learn that your followers care about your content and actively choose to engage with it.


Instagram Stories

Like feed posts, Instagram uses prior interactions to figure out which accounts users are interested in. These accounts are brought to the start of a user’s feed.

The first few accounts displayed on top are accounts users interact with, frequently view, and could engage with through sharing the story, doing its poll, answering a question, reacting to it, or dropping a reply.

Tip! Increase your follower’s engagement with your account, add interactive stories! Ask questions, have polls, create stories which encourage your audience to get involved with your content. This will help them see your stories first and also help the positioning of your static feed posts.


Additionally, the more views you get, the better ranked your account will be in the algorithm’s eyes. So, post stories consistently! Stories are designed to be swiped through and binged. The more stories you post, the greater chances people will see your content even if it isn’t one of the first few ones that show up at the top of their page.


Reels are the fresh new way to get big on Instagram. Just as their stories were designed to mimic Snapchat’s, or IGTV was designed to mimic Youtube, reels are here to grab eyeballs from TikTok to Instagram.


Understanding how reels work can be a surefire way to supercharge your growth as an influencer.

The kinds of reels to avoid - according to Instagram:

1. Recycled Content

Instagram themselves clarified that reels which are obviously recycled from other apps will be deprioritised. If there is a TikTok watermark, or any other app’s sign, it won’t do well on the platform.

2. Low-resolution Content

Blurry videos which do not make for a good user experience will not be pushed up. If there is a lot of background noise, and the quality of the video is below average, you can expect it to underperform.

3. Text-heavy Content

Of course, sharing information through reels is encouraged. However, the text should not overpower the visual aspect, nor should it take up most of the frame.

4. Reels with Borders

Pretty self-explanatory, but basically Instagram wants reels that are tailored to its requirements and guidelines. If you follow best practices for reels, that includes shooting vertical videos designed for IG.

What kind of reels should you post?

Entertaining, experimental, funny content! Generously use filters, transitions, and audios. Have fun playing around with trends and cool new things. The algorithm will reward you for it.

Now that you know how to use stories and reels to your advantage, get out there and get creative! Instagram can be a wonderful place to make fresh and fun content. Good luck!

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