Demystifying Instagram’s Algorithm; Insights for Marketers

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We’ve all wondered about our Instagram feed and rankings. We have sought out theories and guesses to help us understand our content performance all to no avail. Well, powerless feeling is about to come to an end.

During the recently concluded Creator’s week, the head of Instagram; Adam Mosseri published a blogpost that sought to demystify Instagram’s algorithm and share some insight into the social platform’s internal processes, especially in regards to Feed, Stories, Reels and Explore pages.

Firstly, Mosseri cleared up the existence of public enemy number 1 “The Algorithm.” Instead of one giant all-seeing and all-knowing machine, the social media network uses a variety of “algorithms, classifiers and processes each with its own purpose” to create a personalized experience for its users. These factors/signals also differ per feature. For instance, the algorithms for Stories and Feed, differ from that of the Explore page because users engage with these features differently.

Here are the key takeaways that are essential to your Instagram planning and strategy:


How does Instagram Rank Feed and Stories?

According to Mosseri, there are a plethora of signals that Instagram’s technology relies on to determine rankings. In order of importance, here are the most crucial:

  • Information about the post. These are signals both about how popular a post is – think how many people have liked it – and more mundane information about the content itself, like when it was posted, how long it is, if it’s a video, and what location, if any, was attached to it.
  • Information about the person who posted. This helps us get a sense for how interesting the person might be to you, and includes signals like how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks.
  • Your activity. This helps us understand what you might be interested in and includes signals such as how many posts you’ve liked.
  • Your history of interacting with someone. This gives us a sense of how interested you are generally in seeing posts from a particular person. An example is whether or not you comment on each other’s posts.

How does Instagram Rank the Explore Page?

  • Information about the post. Here we are looking at how popular a post seems to be. These are signals like how many and how quickly other people are liking, commenting, sharing, and saving a post. These signals matter much more in Explore than they do in Feed or in Stories.
  • Your history of interacting with the person who posted. Most likely the post was shared by someone you’ve never heard of, but if you have interacted with them that gives us a sense of how interested you might be in what they shared.
  • Your activity. These are signals like what posts you’ve liked, saved or commented on and how you’ve interacted with posts in Explore in the past.
  • Information about the person who posted. These are signals like how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks, to help find compelling content from a wide array of people.

How does Instagram Rank the Reels?

  • Your activity. We look at things like which reels you’ve liked, commented on, and engaged with recently. These signals help us to understand what content might be relevant to you.
  • Your history of interacting with the person who posted. Like in Explore, it’s likely the video was made by someone you’ve never heard of, but if you have interacted with them that gives us a sense of how interested you might be in what they shared.
  • Information about the reel. These are signals about the content within the video such as the audio track, video understanding based on pixels and whole frames, as well as popularity.
  • Information about the person who posted. We consider popularity to help find compelling content from a wide array of people and give everyone a chance to find their audience.

Important Tips for Marketers

Armed with better clarity on Instagrams internal processes, here are a few tips that marketers should take into consideration when creating their next Instagram strategy:

  • Instagram isn’t out to get you and your business
  • Understanding these key signals will help marketers identify what metrics they should be paying attention to. Saves are just as important.
  • Your Instagram strategy should be all encompassing. Meaning be sure to incorporate Reels and Stories in your planning.  The more popular the content, the greater your chances of appearing on the Explore page.
  • Instagram will not highlight Reels that are TikTok watermarked, marketers will need to record a separate version specifically for Reels.
  • The key to Instagram success is to continually provide content that your audience cares about and speaks to their needs. 
  • Instagram plans to be even more transparent about how content is ranked and moderated. We will continue to bring you updates, so stay tuned!

If you are looking to improve your social media results or have questions regarding the latest platform updates, we’d love to chat!

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