Understanding the Instagram Algorithm

social media management at Kinetix

What exactly is the algorithm?

Since Instagram has strayed away from its chronological feed, the “algorithm” has become widely discussed. Instagram’s algorithm customizes Instagram feeds to each user based on what it believes that user is interested in. In other words, Instagram’s algorithm decides what posts to show you. The app considers a few different measures when deciding what content to show its viewers. Each time an Instagram user opens the app, Instagram evaluates available content and then decides what to display to the viewer. 

Here is what Instagram is detecting:

  • What posts will be at the top of your feed and in what order
  • What stories will be displayed first
  • What posts will be shared on the explore page 

When Instagram finishes inspecting this information, your feed is ready to view. Since it takes Instagram no time to complete this task, your page generates instantly.

How does Instagram know the content to share at a given time?

Instagram observes the past behavior of its users, looks at previously viewed posts or stories and ranks new posts according to how interesting the specific user will find it. The highest-ranking posts go to the top of your feed each time you open or refresh the app. 

To do this, Instagram considers these algorithm ranking signals:

  • Interest
    Based on similar content, will you be interested in seeing this post or story? Do you typically engage with this type of content?
  • Timeliness
    Although all posts will be shown on an Instagram feed, recent posts are prioritized over older posts.
  • Relationship
    Is this content from an account you’ve recently interacted with? The algorithm assumes that if you have interacted with an account recently, you will be interested in more of that profile’s content.
  • Frequency
    How often are you checking the app? If you check it 10 times a day, you are more likely to see a variety of posts than if you checked Instagram twice a day. 
  • Following
    How many people are you following? If a lot, you see less of one account. In other words, someone following 2,000 people will miss more posts than someone following 200 people. 
  • Usage
    If you spend more time on the app, naturally, you will see more content as the algorithm continuously searches posts for you to view. 

With around two billion Instagram users, the algorithm manages to provide each person with a unique experience. Next time you are on the Instagram app, see if you notice any of these aspects of the algorithm.