Everything You Need To Know About The Instagram Algorithm

The first step to beating the Instagram algorithm is understanding it.

Earlier this year, Instagram rolled out a new algorithm, and it’s a heck of a lot more complex than the ol’ chronological feed. But, don’t throw your hands up quite yet.

We’re here to demystify the Instagram algorithm, plus reveal some of our tried and true tips for getting more engagement.

How The Instagram Algorithm Works

Let’s all just take a deep breath. The Instagram algorithm doesn’t have to be scary, and once we break it down for you, you’ll see how you can use it to your advantage.

Instagram uses its algorithm to create, essentially, customized feeds for each of its users.

Even if you follow the exact same accounts as you BFF, your feeds will still be different.

Because, magic!

Actually, the Instagram algorithm inputs your past behavior (i.e. the Instagram likes and comments you dish out) in order to ensure you’re seeing the content from the accounts you care about most.

Back when it was just the chronological feed, Instagram reported users were only seeing 50 percent of posts from their friends and family.

But with the new Instagram algorithm, you now see 90 percent of posts from your friends and family.

The accounts Instagram considers your “friends and family” might actually be your friends and family, but it’s more likely the accounts you interact with the most.

Your likes and comments directly impact the content showing up in your feed.

For example, if you like every single one of Chrissy Teigen‘s posts and occasionally leave a comment saying Luna is the absolute cutest, the Instagram algorithm will register all that engagement and put Chrissy into your “friends and family” category.

Instagram thinks we’re pals with Chrissy Teigen? Yes, please. It’s also nice to know we won’t miss out on any of her hilarious content.

6 Factors Affecting The Instagram Algorithm

So, we know the Instagram algorithm tries to predict what posts its users want to see.

To do that, it uses six factors.

#1 Interest

This first—and dare we say, most important—factor is fairly straightforward.

The Instagram algorithm uses your past behavior to determine how high to place a post in your feed.

Think back to the Chrissy Teigen example.

Based on your history of liking and commenting on Chrissy’s posts, Instagram prioritizes her content in your feed.

It shows up higher than, let’s say, your college chem lab partner. You never “like” their posts, but you still can’t bring yourself to unfollow.

In order to keep you engaging on their platform, Instagram uses its algorithm to make sure you’re seeing the posts you care the most about.

View this post on Instagram

no idea what animal this is but i love it

A post shared by chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) on

#2 Timeliness

While your content preferences are super important, the Instagram algorithm also cares how long ago a post was shared.

To keep your feed  looking fresh, Instagram takes into account when something was posted.

Because no one likes a feed flooded with old posts, we love that the Instagram algorithm prioritizes recent posts.

#3 Relationship

Instagram wants to know who your friends and family are.

Okay, we promise that’s not as creepy as it sounds!

The Instagram algorithm determines your “friends and family” category based on the accounts you regularly like and comment on. Tagged photos also play a role.

Do you ever feel like you never see someone’s photos in your feed and you want that to change?

Take control of the relationship factor, and start commenting on posts of the accounts you want to see more of.

#4 Frequency

The Instagram algorithm notes how frequently you use the app.

Regular Grammers will have more chronological feeds while users who check the Instagram app less often will have feeds relying more heavily on the algorithm

Either way, the Instagram algorithm works to show you the best posts since your last session.

Learn about the Instagram algorithm and how to use it to your advantage
Image Credit: Jakob Owens on Unsplash

#5 Following

If you follow a lot of accounts, the Instagram algorithm has more options to sort through.

The more accounts the algorithm has to choose from, the less likely it is to show you all the posts from every account.

Your thumb might fall off from all the scrolling!

To be sure you’re giving the Instagram algorithm the best chance of showing you the posts you want to see, take care with the accounts you choose to follow or turn on post notifications for people you really want to see.

#6 Usage

You may not even know how much time you spend on Instagram (we’ve all gotten lost scrolling down the rabbit hole), but the Instagram algorithm knows.

Instagram uses that information to decided whether to just show you highlights or give you a more in-depth look.

The more time you spend browsing the more deeper Instagram digs into the content from the accounts you follow in order to curate your feed.

Instagram Algorithm Myths Debunked

Is the Instagram algorithm starting to make sense now?


If you’re still feeling a little freaked out, don’t worry. You’re not alone.

The mere mention of the Instagram algorithm has caused scores of influencers to nearly lose their minds.

We blame all the anxiety on the crazy rumors going around.

So, let’s clear a few things up.

Shadowbanning Isn’t A Thing

Instagram promises it doesn’t hide posts.

In the past, people have worried Instagram punished them for behavior such as using too many hashtags or posting too frequently.

But, according to Instagram, you will see everything posted by everyone you follow if you have the thumb strength to just keep scrolling.

A Business Account Won’t Hurt You

Since the dawn of time (okay, maybe just since 2017), people have debated the pros and cons of Instagram business accounts.

Recently, some people have theorized personal accounts hold more weight in the Instagram algorithm.

However, Instagram doesn’t prioritize one type of account over another, so just stick to whichever best fits your social media strategy,

You Don’t Get Bonus Points For Using New Platform Features

We’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but posting videos or using features like Instagram Stories and IGTV won’t boost your content in your Instagram followers’ feeds.

Maybe at one point it did but not anymore.

That doesn’t mean you should swear off features like Instagram Live forever though. Use all the tools Instagram gives you to create content your followers will love.

Beat the Instagram algorithm by using relevant hashtags and maybe you will get featured on the Instagram explore page.
Image Credit: Jakob Owens on Unsplash

How To Beat The Instagram Algorithm

We’ve broken down the Instagram algorithm and debunked some of the biggest myths surrounding it.

Now, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: how to beat the Instagram algorithm.

Pay Attention To Analytics

Since a business account won’t hurt you, make the switch from a personal profile to gain access to precious data.

Learn who your followers are (age, gender, locations). Take a closer look at why certain posts performs better than others.

The more you know the better you can serve your followers.

Develop A Brand

With the help of cohesive Instagram filters and thoughtful Instagram captions, you can create your own brand.

You want your Instagram followers to know a post is yours before they even see your handle.

They will be more likely to engage with your posts if they know, like and trust you.

Post Consistently

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know the less you post the fewer chances your audience has to engage with you.

That being said though, posting more isn’t necessarily better.

Find a consistent posting schedule that works for both you and your followers.

Your followers will be more likely to engage if they know when you’re going to post.

Use Relevant Hashtags

Now that we’ve debunked the shadowban myth, get out there and hashtag it up.

Instagram lets you use up to 30 hashtags.

To increase your chances of getting featured on the Instagram Explore page, use hashtags appropriate for your content and number of Instagram followers.

The goal with hashtags is to be found in the top nine section on Instagram.

Focus On Real Engagement

If you take anything away from this post, let it be that the Instagram algorithm prioritizes posts with more engagement.

Post pictures your audience will enjoy, and write captions with call-to-actions that encourage your followers to comment.

It’s all about relationships.

Respond to comments on your posts. Take time to engage with your followers’ content. Stay away from comment pods.

Instagram Queen Jenna Kutcher knows every post is a new opportunity to start a conversation with her Instagram followers.

Jenna showed her followers she cares and asked them to comment their biggest dream.

View this post on Instagram

I AM AN OVERNIGHT SUCCESS** As in, I’ve been working morning, noon, and night for the last 7 years to get to where I am today. 🤦🏼‍♀️ It’s easy to look at people who are further down the path and you and think it came easy or that they had some big break, but the truth is, behind every successful human are hours and hours of hard work (and usually a highly patient person carrying the weight!) ✨ From my first job ever as a limousine cleaner (seriously) to a paper mill tour guide (not joking) from $100 photo shoots to my windowless office that I couldn’t wait to escape, I’ve never shied away from the work it takes to get to where you want to go. 👋🏻 So keep showing up, put yourself out there, stay in your lane, do the work, figure out what makes you different, celebrate others, share your “secrets,” rinse, and repeat. Everyday is one step closer to the life you’ve been dreaming of… 💁🏼‍♀️ And if you need help chasing your dreams, I’m sharing all sorts of free education, my best strategies, and incredible interviews over at @goaldiggerpodcast! So tune on in and get inspired! ✨ I sincerely wanna know: what is your BIG dream? Tell me below (and connect with other dreamers!)

A post shared by JENNA KUTCHER (@jennakutcher) on

Beyond The Instagram Algorithm

In the Instagram algorithm, engagement is key.

So you can feel confident your content will reach the right people, Upleap provides dedicated account managers who will grow your Instagram with organic followers.

Upleap will help connect you with followers who will engage with your content. 

Let us help you get one step closer to beating the Instagram algorithm, and check out our no-commitment free trial!

By Alex

When she's not writing about the Gram, you can find Alex curled up with a book, reaching for another taco or watching anything (okay, everything) starring Winona Ryder. An avid traveler, she regularly posts photos of her life abroad in Mexico. If Alex could switch Instagram accounts with one celebrity, it would *hands down* be Chrissy Teigen.

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