Instagram Algorithm Tips for 2024

Staying on top of the Instagram algorithm feels like chasing a constantly moving target. Just when you think you've mastered it, Insta

Social Media
Mar 19, 2024

Staying on top of the Instagram algorithm feels like chasing a constantly moving target. Just when you think you've mastered it, Instagram changes the game again.

You might find yourself asking questions like, "When's the best time to post for the most likes and comments?" or "How can I get more eyes on my Instagram Reels?"

Don't worry, we're here to help. In this guide, we're going to simplify the Instagram algorithm for you and give you some handy tips to make it work to your advantage. If you still need help after this read, book a discovery call to learn more about our social media management services.

So, what exactly is the Instagram algorithm? It's a bunch of rules that decide which posts show up in your feed, in what order, and on other parts of Instagram like the Explore Page, Reels feed, and Stories.

How does the Instagram algorithm work?

The Instagram algorithm can seem like a mystery, but it's really about matching content (like Reels, feed posts, and Stories) with users (based on what they like and do on the app) to make sure everyone sees what interests them the most.

The goal behind the Instagram algorithm is to make everyone's time on the app enjoyable. Instagram's head, Adam Mosseri, prefers calling it "ranking" to make it sound less technical. He emphasizes that this system helps prioritize certain posts over others to enhance the value of Instagram for every user.

Mosseri mentioned in a 2022 Instagram Reel, "I get that some of you might doubt how ranking works, but it's key to making Instagram more useful for everyone."

He also pointed out that Instagram doesn't use just one algorithm to decide what shows up for you on the app.

A list of each of Instagram's "parts"/features: feed, stories, reels, explore, and search. The image explains that each of these has a different algorithm or list of ranking factors

Instead, he says they use a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes tailored specifically to each part of the app—Feed, Stories, Explore, Reels, Search, and more.

Here’s how those break down:

Interest: Instagram's algorithm tries to guess how interested you'll be in a post, using your past likes and interactions as clues. If you often engage with similar content, it'll show you more of the same.

Popularity of the post: The algorithm looks at how quickly a post gets likes, comments, shares, and saves. It also considers the timing and location of the post. Posts that get a lot of engagement fast are more likely to be shown to you.

Info about the poster: The algorithm also thinks about who posted the content. It looks at how often you interact with them, how frequently they post, and other factors to decide if you might find their content interesting.

Your interaction history: Lastly, the algorithm checks how much you've interacted with someone in the past. If you regularly like or comment on someone's posts, Instagram will keep showing you their content because it thinks you like seeing their posts.

The 2024 Instagram Stories algorithm

User Engagement: The algorithm pays attention to how much you interact with someone's Instagram stories, like sending them likes or direct messages. This helps it figure out which stories you really care about.

Viewing History: It also looks at how often you watch an account's stories. If you regularly view someone's stories, Instagram assumes they're important to you and makes sure to keep showing them in your feed.

Closeness: Finally, the algorithm tries to gauge how close you are to the person posting. If it thinks you're friends or family based on your interactions, their content is more likely to show up higher for you.

The 2024 Instagram Reels algorithm

User Activity: The Instagram algorithm starts by checking out what you've done in the past, like the reels you've liked, saved, re-shared, commented on, and recently engaged with. This helps it figure out what kind of content you might like to see more of.

Author Interaction: If you've previously interacted with the creator of a reel, the algorithm takes this as a sign that you're interested in their content. This makes it more likely for their reels to show up in your feed.

Reel Details: Next, it looks at specific details of the reel itself, such as the audio track, how long the video is, and what's written in the caption. These factors help decide if you might find the reel interesting.

Poster Relationship: Just like with posts and stories, the algorithm evaluates how closely you're connected to the person who shared the reel. If you have a history of interacting with them, their content is deemed more relevant to you.

The 2024 Instagram Explore page algorithm

Post Popularity: The Instagram algorithm pays close attention to how popular a post is, especially how quickly it gathers likes, comments, and shares. This aspect is particularly important for content in the Explore section, where the popularity of a post can significantly influence its visibility compared to your regular Feed or Stories.

Your Explore Activity: What you've liked or engaged with in the Explore section before plays a big role in what you'll see there in the future. The algorithm uses your past actions on similar content to tailor what it shows you, aiming to keep everything relevant and interesting.

Interaction History: The algorithm also looks at how you've interacted with the person who made the post. While you might not know the poster as well in the Explore section, your interactions with similar types of content are crucial for determining what you find engaging.

Poster's Recent Popularity: Lastly, the algorithm considers how much attention the creator of the post has received lately, including the overall engagement with their content. This helps ensure that you see a diverse range of content from various creators, making your Explore page more dynamic and varied.

The Instagram algorithm's top three ranking factors are crucial for anyone looking to boost their visibility on the platform:

  1. Relationship Between the Creator and Viewer: The interactions between you and your followers are key. Do you follow each other? Do you often exchange messages or comments? Regular interaction with a user makes it more likely for your new posts to appear in their feed. This emphasizes the importance of active community management for businesses. By responding to direct messages and comments, brands can significantly enhance their visibility on Instagram.
  2. Interest: The algorithm pays close attention to the types of content a user engages with. If someone frequently interacts with a particular type of content or format, Instagram will start showing them more of that content. This means creating content that resonates with your audience's interests can help increase your reach on the platform.
  3. Relevancy: Instagram assesses how relevant each piece of content is to the user. This includes analyzing how well it aligns with current trends and its timeliness—newer posts are generally seen as more relevant than older ones. Staying on top of trending topics and posting timely content can boost your chances of being seen by your audience.
heatmap showing instagram user activity in hootsuite

Instagram’s new algorithm is less focused on reels

After a heavy focus on reels in previous years, Adam Mosseri said on an IG Live that the Instagram algorithm is shifting to give more weight to other types of content, such as Stories and regular posts.

This change comes after feedback from users who felt that their feeds were becoming too saturated with reels.

Replayed reels now count toward your view count

While previously only first-time views were counted towards a reel’s view count, now, every time you watch a reel, it will be added to the total views. This means that creators may see an increase in their view counts as they create and share more reels.

Wondering how to get back in the good graces of the Instagram algorithm?

Start with a quick health check of your Instagram account. Tap your profile picture, head over to Settings and privacy > More info and support > Account status to ensure your account isn't running afoul of any community guidelines or policies.

Once you've got the all-clear, the key to making the algorithm work for you is twofold: creating content that truly speaks to your audience and actively participating in the community. Use hashtags wisely, tag relevant accounts, explore the potential of Reels and Stories—all of these are tools at your disposal to widen your reach and enhance your visibility on the platform.

Feeling overwhelmed or not sure where to start? Let's chat about how to tailor your Instagram strategy to resonate with your audience and align with your business goals. Book a discovery call with us today, and let's unlock the full potential of your Instagram presence together.

Instagram Algorithm Tips for 2024

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