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[SOLVED] Instagram Algorithm Tips for 2024

The Instagram algorithm affects everyone who uses the platform. Learn the latest ranking factors and make sure your content gets seen.

Hannah Macready March 6, 2024
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Keeping up with the Instagram algorithm is a bit like trying to hit a moving target. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, they go and change it again.

On any given day, you’re probably wondering: what’s the best time to post to maximize engagement? Or, how do I get my Instagram Reels in front of more people?

Luckily, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll break down the basics of the Instagram algorithm and offer some practical tips to make it work for you.

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What is the Instagram algorithm?

The Instagram algorithm is a set of rules that rank content on the platform. It decides what content shows up, and in what order, on all Instagram users’ feeds, as well as the Explore Page, the Reels feed, Stories, and so on.

How does the Instagram algorithm work?

In simple terms, the Instagram algorithm looks at information about content (Reels, feed posts, and Stories) and users (interests and behavior on the platform) to serve the right content to the right people.

The main purpose of the Instagram algorithm is to make each user’s experience with the platform as pleasant as possible. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri refers to the algorithm as “ranking” (maybe because that term sounds less robotic) and stresses the importance of favoring some posts more than others.

“I know a lot of you are skeptical of ranking,” said Mosseri in an Instagram reel shared in 2022, “but it really does help us make sure that Instagram is more valuable to each and every person who uses the platform.”

Mosseri also claims that “Instagram doesn’t have a singular algorithm that oversees what people do and don’t see 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

Source: Instagram

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:

The 2024 Instagram Feed algorithm

A list of the top four factors that impact Instagram's feed algorithm: Interest, post popularity, poster information, and interaction history
  1. Interest. The Instagram algorithm takes into account how much Instagram predicts you’ll care about a post (based on your past behavior and engagement with similar content).
  2. Post popularity. The algorithm then considers how popular the post is based on how quickly it gains likes, comments, shares, and saves, along with when and where it was posted.
  3. Poster information. Next, it uses information about the poster to determine how interesting they might be to you. This includes factors like past interactions, post frequency, and more.
  4. Interaction history. It also takes into account your history of interacting with a particular person to determine how interested you are in seeing their posts.

The 2024 Instagram Stories algorithm

The top three factors that influence the Stories Instagram algorithm: user engagement, viewing history, and closeness
  1. User engagement. The Instagram algorithm looks at how much you engage with a particular account’s stories, such as sending likes or DMs.
  2. Viewing history. Next, it considers how often you view an account’s stories to prioritize those from accounts that it thinks you don’t want to miss.
  3. Closeness. From there, it considers your overall relationship with the author and how likely you are to be connected as friends or family.

The 2024 Instagram Reels algorithm

  1. User activity. First, the algorithm on Instagram looks at your past behavior, such as which reels you’ve liked, saved, re-shared, commented on, and engaged with recently.
  2. Author interaction. If you’ve interacted with the person who posted the Reel before, that signals to the algorithm your level of interest in their content.
  3. Reel information. The algorithm then accounts for factors like audio track, video length, and caption text to determine how interesting the reel might be to you.
  4. Poster information. Similar to feed and Stories, the algorithm considers your relationship with the poster to determine how relevant their content is to you.

The 2024 Instagram Explore page algorithm

The top 4 factors that influence the Explore Page Instagram algorithm: Post information, your activity in Explore, Interaction history, and information about the poster
  1. Post information. The Instagram algorithm looks at the general popularity of a post, including how many people have interacted with it in a short amount of time. Notably, Instagram says, “These signals matter much more in Explore than they do in Feed or in Stories.”
  2. Your activity in Explore. The algorithm then takes into account your past actions on similar content to determine what to show you.
  3. Interaction history. Just like in other parts of Instagram, the algorithm considers your relationship with the person who posted and how much you’ve interacted with them in the past few weeks. On Explore, you’re likely less familiar with the poster, so your past interactions with similar content are key here.
  4. Information about the poster. The algorithm looks at how popular the poster has been recently, including how many people have interacted with them or their content. This helps to surface a variety of content from different creators on your Explore page.

Top Instagram algorithm ranking factors overall

If you wanted to break down the Instagram algorithm ranking factors overall, here’s what that would look like.

A list of the top 3 most important ranking factors of the instagram algorithm: relationship between creator and view, interest, and relevancy

The 3 most important ranking factors of the Instagram algorithm are:

  1. Relationship between the creator and the viewer. Do you follow each other? Do you message each other or leave comments? If you have repeatedly interacted with a specific user in the past, you are more likely to see the new content they post. (This is very important for businesses: Active community management, including responding to DMs and comments, can improve a brand’s visibility on Instagram.)
  2. Interest. Does a user typically interact with this type of content? When the Instagram algorithm recognizes that a user enjoys a specific content type or format, it shows them more of the same.
  3. Relevancy. Instagram decides how “relevant” every piece of content is. This includes an analysis of where it fits with trending topics as well as the timeliness factor (recent posts are considered more relevant than older posts).

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Top Instagram algorithm changes for 2024

As Instagram continues to evolve, it’s important to keep up with changes in the algorithm. Here are some of the top Instagram algorithm changes for 2024.

Some content will be more restricted for teens

As of 2024, Instagram automatically places teens into the most restrictive content control setting. This means that teens may have a harder time coming across potentially sensitive content or accounts in places like Search and Explore. This change is being made to help promote a safer online environment for young users.

Restricted content will include:

  • Violent content
  • Content about self-harm or suicide
  • Content about eating disorders
  • Nudity or sexually explicit content
  • Content that includes restricted goods

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.

Users can now pay for a blue checkmark

In 2023, Meta rolled out Meta Verified, a way for users to pay for a blue checkmark on their accounts. Verified accounts benefit from higher visibility in the algorithm and additional features like access to a real person for common account issues. However, this change has sparked controversy as some feel that verification should be earned rather than bought.

So far, the feature is still being tested and is currently available in the U.S., U.K., Canada, India, and Brazil. The global rollout is expected soon.

Reels with word marks are ranked lower

This has long been speculated and now confirmed by Mosseri in an Instagram story. Reels with word marks, regardless of the word mark, will be ranked lower. This includes wordmarks like the TikTok logo, as well as watermarks from video editing platforms.

Mosseri did say that videos created outside of the Instagram app that don’t have a word mark are not affected.

European users can now see chronological feeds

In response to the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), Instagram has announced that users in Europe will now have the option to view Stories and Reels only from people they follow, ranked in chronological order from newest to oldest.

This change also applies to Search results, which will no longer be personalized based on a user’s previous activity and interests.

Instagram algorithm tips for every format

Instagram algorithm tips for feed posts

With all these changes and factors to consider, how can businesses and creators improve their visibility on Instagram? Here are a few tips for feed posts.

1. Respect the community guidelines

This is more of an all-encompassing tip. Whether you’re posting on the Feed, in Reels, or to Stories, Instagram’s algorithms limit the visibility of content that goes against the app’s Community Guidelines.

If you’re sharing misinformation, potentially upsetting or sensitive content, or even just low-resolution media, you may find your content less widely distributed.

Hot tip: if you think you’ve been shadowbanned, this is probably why!

2. Encourage engagement

Engagement rules all on Instagram (in fact, it’s one of the most important ranking factors on all the top social media platforms).

Views are great, but likes, comments, shares, and saves matter more. Increase your engagement by encouraging your audience to engage with your content by asking questions, hosting giveaways, or creating ultra-shareable posts.

3. Schedule your posts at the right time for maximum reach

Audience interaction is an important signal across the board on Instagram, so posting your content on the right day and time is going to make a huge difference to your organic reach.

Luckily, Hootsuite’s dashboard helps crunch the numbers and offers suggested best times to post based on your audience’s unique behavior.

heatmap showing instagram user activity in hootsuite

Still posting manually? Bring your brand into the future with our guide to how to schedule Instagram posts, and another on how to schedule Instagram Stories.

4. Use relevant hashtags

Hashtags help Instagram know what your post is about, and using them puts your content in front of the right audience.

Plus, unlike Instagram ads (the other way to expand reach past your existing audience), hashtags are free

5. Tag your location

Just like hashtags, location tags are a free way to give Instagram vital information about your post. The algorithm will share your content with other people in your area, assuming that the photo or video is relevant to them.

Plus, users who are searching for content published in a specific area will see posts tagged with that location.

6. Post consistently

This is key whether you’re looking for help with reach, engagement or follower growth. (Because, of course, those three things are related.)

On average, businesses should post 3-5 times per week on Instagram. If that sounds like way too much for your small biz, rest assured that just showing up consistently (every weekday, for instance), is enough to keep the ball rolling.

Pro tip: Consistency requires planning. This is where having a social media content calendar becomes crucial, as well *ahem* as scheduling your posts in advance with Hootsuite.

Look at how nicely planned out your Instagram posts could look in Hootsuite’s planner—for weeks or months in advance!

many social media posts scheduled in hootsuite planner

Instagram algorithm tips for Reels

7. Make original content

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri says that the platform values original content over reposted or re-shared content—so be as creative as possible when you’re brainstorming new posts.

Try using your original audio for reels, coming up with captions that are distinct and informative, and embracing unusual ideas.

8. Use trending sounds

Instagram Reels have become a very important (and lucrative) feature of the platform. Unlike the regular feed, most Reels that a user views will be from creators that they don’t follow, so Reels are a great opportunity to expand your audience beyond your followers.

But to do that, the algorithm has to put your content in front of new audiences. One of the simplest ways to signal to Instagram that your Reel is worth ranking highly is to use a trending song.

When a song is trending on Reels, the Instagram algorithm will show users lots of videos with that same song (you know how you sometimes get Reel songs stuck in your head? That’s why).

9. Post vertical videos

Instagram has confirmed that when it comes to ranking Reels, format matters.

Videos that are created in the vertical format (the way you hold your phone) have a better chance of ranking highly. This makes sense, considering Reels are designed to be watched on your phone.

Check out our Reels sizes cheat sheet to make sure your content measures up.

10. Remove word marks on reels

You heard it from Mosseri first. Reels with word marks, such as the TikTok watermarks, look like reposts, and the Instagram algorithm will penalize you if you post them to your Reels. Make sure to remove all word marks before cross-posting a Reel.

Learn how to remove TikTok watermarks here.

Instagram algorithm tips for Stories

11. Encourage engagement with Story features

Just like regular Instagram posts, engagement is the key to greater reach on Stories.

Here are a few ways to encourage your followers to tap, reply and share:

  • Ask questions. Use the question sticker or just ask for people to reply directly.
  • Polls. Using polls makes it easy for people to participate without having to type out a response
  • Stickers for sharing. Use the location sticker or the mention sticker to encourage people to share your Stories with their friends.
  • Hashtag stickers. Again, this helps Instagram know what your story is about so it can be shared with more people.

12. Post consistently

Just like with regular posts, consistency is key for Stories. Make sure to post regularly to keep the algorithm happy and your content in front of your followers.

Additionally, if you post consistently, your profile will be labeled as “active,” which can also help increase visibility.

13. Tag users in your Stories

Tagging other users in your Stories can be a great way to boost engagement and reach. When you tag someone, they will likely share the Story with their own followers, increasing your visibility to a new audience.

Just make sure to only tag relevant users and not spam people with tags.

Instagram algorithm tips for the Explore Page

14. Create high-quality content

The Explore page is where users can find new content that they might be interested in based on their previous activity and interests. To have your posts featured on the Explore page, it’s important to create high-quality content that resonates with your target audience.

Use high-resolution images or videos, engaging captions, and relevant hashtags to increase your chances of being featured on the Explore page.

15. Engage with other content

We know one of the main ranking factors for the Explore page is your activity on similar content. So, it’s important to engage with other content on Instagram, especially from accounts or hashtags in your niche.

This will show the algorithm that you are interested and active in that specific type of content, increasing the likelihood of your posts showing up on the Explore page.

16. Keep an eye on trends

The Explore page is also known for showcasing trending content. Keep an eye out for popular hashtags and challenges on the platform and try to incorporate them into your posts.

This will increase the chances of your content being discovered by a wider audience through the Explore page.

Instagram algorithm tips for Business, Creator, and Personal Accounts

17. Switch to a business or creator account

If you’re using Instagram for your brand or business, it’s important to switch to a business or creator account.

This will give you access to valuable insights and analytics about your posts and audience, allowing you to better understand what content is performing well and make informed decisions for future posts.

18. Engage with your audience

Engagement is a crucial factor in the Instagram algorithm, so make sure to respond to comments and messages from your followers. This shows that you are actively participating in the community and can lead to higher visibility for your posts.

As well, being responsive in your comment section and your DMs builds trust with your followers and helps remind them that there are real people on the other side of their screens.

Hootsuite Inbox lets you respond to messages across your social media ecosystem from a single platform.

replying to instagram comments in hootsuite inbox

19. Track (and understand) your analytics

No matter how busy you are, getting automatic analytics reports will help you with almost all of the above tips.

Taking the time once a month, for instance, to look at the numbers and see what’s working in terms of content, posting time, and hashtags will save you a lot of wasted effort.

Use an Instagram analytics tool to find out:

  • when your audience is online (so you can schedule your posts during that window)
  • which hashtags are performing well
  • what posts are earning real engagement

Meanwhile, a truly great tool (like Hootsuite) will give your brand the lowdown on everything from audience sentiment analysis to campaign click-throughs to customer service response times.

Hootsuite Analytics shows you the most important Instagram metrics to track alongside performance stats from your other social networks for easy comparison.

hootsuite analytics dashboard showing engagement across facebook, instagram, linkedin, and twitter

Bonus: Notice any big dips or spikes in your stats recently? Analytics is often the first place a social media manager can tell if something has changed in the Instagram algorithm — and start adjusting their strategy accordingly.

How to “beat” the Instagram algorithm and get your content seen

Everyone wants to know how to “beat” the Instagram algorithm, but the truth is, there’s no silver bullet.

Beating the Instagram algorithm is simply a matter of understanding how it works and using that knowledge to your advantage.

By creating high-quality, engaging content, staying consistent in your posting schedule, and actively engaging with your audience and the community, you can increase your chances of having your posts seen by a wider audience. Don’t forget to keep an eye on trends and utilize features like hashtags, tagging, and Reels to boost your visibility and reach even further.

For businesses, making use of a business or creator account and tracking analytics can provide valuable insights into what’s working for your brand on the platform. Ultimately, it’s about building a strong presence on Instagram and connecting with your audience in an authentic way.

Instagram algorithm FAQs

What is Instagram’s algorithm?

The Instagram algorithm is a set of rules that ranks content on the platform. It decides what content shows up and in what order, all across the app (users’ feeds, the Explore Page, the Reels feed, hashtag pages, etc.).

What triggers the Instagram algorithm?

You can trigger the Instagram algorithm by creating high-quality, relevant content that resonates with your target audience, staying consistent in posting and engagement, and trying out new content forms and features as soon as they come out.

How do I fix my Instagram algorithm?

If you think the Instagram algorithm isn’t picking up your content, start by checking your Instagram account status. You can do this by tapping on your profile picture, then going to Settings and privacy > More info and support > Account status.

From there, make sure your account is not in violation of any community guidelines or policies. If everything checks out, focus on creating high-quality content that resonates with your audience and engaging with the community. Additionally, consider utilizing features like hashtags, tagging, Reels, and Stories to boost your visibility and reach on the platform.

Start building your Instagram presence using Hootsuite. Schedule and publish posts directly to Instagram, engage your audience, measure performance, and run all your other social media profiles — all from one simple dashboard. Try it free today.

With files from Alyssa Hirose.

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By Hannah Macready

Hannah Macready is a freelance writer with 12 years of experience in social media and digital marketing. Her work has appeared in publications such as Fast Company and The Globe & Mail, and has been used in global social media campaigns for brands like Grosvenor Americas and Intuit Mailchimp. In her spare time, Hannah likes exploring the outdoors with her two dogs, Soup and Salad.

Read more by Hannah Macready

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