Understanding Instagram’s Algorithm - The Basics

The best way to get “ahead” of Instagram (meaning, making your posts well-performing posts) is to stop overthinking every little thing and consuming all the wrong information. Go back to your “why” and think about your client's avatar each time you create a piece of content and post it. Genuinely make connections on the platform thus increasing the amount of content that the person sees.

Ever since Instagram did away with the “chronological timeline,” back in 2016, the platform creators developed an algorithm that would give its users a better, more tailored, experience. 

"Instagram’s primary goal is to maximize the time users spend on the platform. Because the longer users linger, the more ads they see. So directly or indirectly, accounts that help Instagram achieve that goal are rewarded.” (Planoly)

This would explain why the more you interact with specific accounts, the more you will see that account’s content on your timeline - which we will get more into later.

Let’s evaluate Instagram’s Top 3 “Ranking” Signals:


Instagram wants you to see what you want to see upon opening the app, and keep you seeing what you want to see - hence prioritizing the content you engage with most. Before the algorithm implementation, you would open the app and see everyone you follow and their posts in chronological order. Based on when you opened the app, you would probably miss around 70% of what you want to see.


“If a person often leaves comments on your posts, or if they have notifications enabled for your account, or you DM each other, or you tag each other in your posts, then the algorithm recognizes that the two of you are “close.

According to Instagram, this set-up allows users to see 90 percent of posts from their “friends and family.” Back when feeds were organized in reverse-chronological order, Instagram estimates people missed 50 percent of those important posts and 70 percent of their feed overall.” (Planoly)


Along with prioritizing the accounts, you interact with most, you may notice you see the types of content you interact with most. This is because the algorithm can predict what you are likely to engage with based on your past behaviors. If you consistently interact with fashion blogger content, you will likely start to see more content similar to that.


“The algorithm shows users newer posts first, according to this announcement from March 2018. We’d guess that this was in response to the endless campaign for a return to the reverse-chronological feed.

For brands, the timeliness (or “recency”) ranking signal means that paying attention to your audience’s behavior, and posting when they’re online, is key.” (Planoly)

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