How the Instagram algorithm works in 2021

How the Instagram algorithm works in 2021

How does the Instagram algorithm work? I think it’s the biggest “enemy” of all users. It also receives numerous updates and often it is necessary to adapt strategies to obtain new followers and greater engagement .

In this article we will therefore see how the Instagram algorithm works to try to get better results on our profiles.

Come funziona l'algoritmo di Instagram
How the Instagram algorithm works

How the Instagram algorithm works

Sometimes he behaves strangely: one day many people see a post, the next few people see it. It is therefore important to understand how it works and how to adapt your strategies.

How the Instagram feed algorithm works

There are 5 factors that influence the Instagram algorithm as regards the feed, that is the posts we see on the main page, the home page, of the app.

The feed is mainly based on the profiles you follow and the posts that Instagram thinks you might like.

But how does Instagram know which posts I might like?

Simply thanks to interactions. The more a person interacts with a profile and its posts, the more they will be shown at the top of the feed.

But what are the “best” interactions?

According to Instagram, the most important interactions for the feed are comments, likes, shares and, as far as videos are concerned, views. Precisely in this order.

Among these, strangely, the bailouts are not mentioned, which, personally, I think are the most important interaction after the comments. I’ll explain why later, keep reading.


The Instagram algorithm prioritizes the posts of the profiles you interact with the most and those of friends and family.

Instagram shows you posts based on how you use the app and gives priority to:

  • Profiles you interact with (including stories and direct)
  • Profiles you exchange private messages with
  • Profiles you are looking for
  • Profiles of people you know

Instagram will try to understand this relationship and your level of interest as soon as you follow a new profile.

Have you ever noticed that as soon as you follow a new profile you will find its content at the top of the feed and the ball of stories in the first place? Because Instagram needs to understand how much that profile really interests you.

Read also: How to direct with pre-recorded videos


The algorithm pays attention to the number of interactions to your post, but also to the time it was published.

If the users who follow you are online at the time you post your photo, as soon as your follower updates the Instagram feed your post will appear at the top (this also depends on how many profiles an account follows).

For this reason it is important to publish posts at the right time .

I also did an experiment, following what a very popular Instagram profile said, which explained how it had increased engagement by posting at unusual times. I recommend you read the post and follow me on Instagram so as not to miss similar posts.


By frequency I don’t mean the frequency of publication, but the frequency in which your follower uses Instagram.

Do you use Instagram often? Your feed will appear in chronological order and will see recent posts first.

Do you use it little? His feed will not be in chronological order, but based on what he might like best and, therefore, he will see posts based on the interactions with the profiles he follows.

For this reason, I repeat, it is important to publish at the best times.

Read also: How many times a week to post on Instagram?


If a user follows a lot of profiles, it gets complicated.

If you follow a lot of profiles and interact with a few, that’s one thing. But if he interacts with 300 or 400 profiles, the chances of him seeing your post are greatly reduced.

If you follow a lot of people, Instagram has more options to choose from, so you won’t see every post from every account.

For this reason, inactive followers, or who follow billions of profiles, do more harm than good.

How the Instagram algorithm works for the Stories

Usually the Instagram stories that appear at the beginning of your feed are those of accounts you interact with the most, whatever the interaction.

Or, as we saw earlier, they are those of a recently followed account.

In this case, the Instagram algorithm shows the stories in chronological order and based on the profiles you interact with the most.

For this reason, an effective strategy to increase the views of the stories is to spread them throughout the day, so as to reach all those people with different habits: those who log in several times a day and those that, on the other hand, do it only in the evening or in the morning.

Read also: How to program stories on Instagram

The Explore section is not the same for everyone: in fact, here you can find all the content that the algorithm is sure (or almost) will like.

This section changes according to your interests and how you use the app.

Basically it is very similar to the feed algorithm, only in this case most of the posts shown come from profiles you don’t follow.

But how do you end up in Explore?

First of all you need to do a good job of categorizing hashtags, using ones from your specific niche. Second, we need interactions.

But which ones?

Likes certainly have some weight, but I’d like to link back to what I said before the saves.

In fact, these interactions are underestimated. A post can also end up in Explorer “normally”, but the interaction that drives it is the saves.

This is an example.

The profile in question has just over 8,000 followers and , as you can see from the screen, 95% of the accounts that saw the post were not following my profile.

Also at the time of the screen the post (a video) has 28 comments. The average likes to posts on this profile is around 1,000: therefore it does not justify 35,000 visits from Explore.

I’m convinced that it was the bailouts, up to 600, that pushed the post into Explore and showed them to more and more people.

To reach this conclusion, I ran various tests and compared the stats of many posts, and the ones with a lot of saves ALWAYS had many visits from Explore.

How the Instagram algorithm works for IGTV and Reels

As for IGTV and Reels, the algorithm works the same as for the feed.

The algorithm shows a Reel at the top in Explore, which can be a nice way to get engagement and followers. In this case the most important interactions are the likes and the number of views of the video.

But how to increase them?

As for IGTV videos, you can share a 1-minute preview on your feed to get more engagement and give it a boost.

The same goes for the Reels. A useful trick, if you really don’t want to keep them on your feed, you can share them and then immediately remove them from the feed grid: they will still be visible on the home of your followers, but not on your profile (except in the special section). I also recommend that you always include relevant hashtags to reach people who may be interested in your profile.

Read also: 5 myths to dispel about the Instagram algorithm


Now, having said that, everyone has their own opinions on this and it should be so.

I report what I feel on my profiles and I rely on the statistics of the tests I do and, for a few months now, I have noticed that the interaction of saving has a greater weight.

But obviously you don’t have to bet everything on the interaction that, at the moment, pushes the most.

Saving is used by the user to always keep interesting content at hand that could also be useful in the future.

A user shares content with their friends or followers because it is interesting or funny, and for the creator this means free advertising.

Comments are useful for creating discussions with your followers or to discuss a topic and are useful for strengthening the community.

Like is the easiest interaction to use and many users use it compulsively during their stay on the social network. For these users, the algorithm, which will have to show content of interest to them, cannot be based solely on these interactions and will give more weight to other types of interactions.

Each piece of content you create must therefore have a specific purpose.

Do you want your posts to be saved? Carousels and informational posts have a higher chance of being saved.

Do you want your posts to be shared? Memes have a higher share rate.

Do you want users to leave comments on your posts? Add a Call To Action and look for the comparison.

Do you want users to like your posts? Post content that deserves it.

Of course I’m generalizing a lot, but it always depends on different factors like the niche, the people who follow us and many others.

If something doesn’t work, try different things, vary your content, and try to find the right balance for you.

When there are updates to the algorithm, as will soon happen for the Reels , we must also adapt our strategies if we want to continue to obtain results: we just need to understand its mechanism.

Well, we have seen how the Instagram algorithm works.

I also recommend that you save this page as a favorite as I will update it as soon as there is news (and there certainly will be) on this topic.

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