Instagram Algorithm Explained: Your 2024 Guide

Written by Andra
Written by Andra

Content Writer at SocialBee

The Instagram algorithm has long been a topic of intrigue, speculation, and sometimes frustration for both casual users and dedicated content creators alike. As we slowly wrap up 2024, understanding this ever-evolving algorithm is more crucial than ever. 

Recent statistics reveal that over 2 billion people use Instagram monthly, with 81% of users leveraging the platform to research products and services. With numbers like these, it’s evident that mastering the intricacies of the Instagram algorithm can be the difference between getting lost in the digital shuffle and achieving optimal visibility. 

Dive into this guide to unravel the latest nuances and strategies surrounding the Instagram algorithm!

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Short Summary

  • The Instagram algorithm aims to enhance the user experience, favoring posts with high engagement, recency, and strong user relationships.
  • Instagram has different algorithms for the main feed, Stories, Explore Page, and Reels, each with its own factors influencing content visibility.
  • To succeed on Instagram in 2024, it’s important to respect community guidelines, create original content, post at optimal times, engage with comments and DMs, use relevant hashtags, and add location tags.
  • Tools like SocialBee can help optimize posting times, track interactions, and provide insights for a strategic approach to Instagram.

What Is the Instagram Algorithm?

The Instagram algorithm represents the set of rules and calculations used by Instagram to determine the order and priority of content displayed to users on their feeds, Stories, and other sections of the platform.

This algorithm aims to present users with the most relevant and engaging content based on their behavior, preferences, and interactions on the app.

Here are a couple of elements influencing how the Instagram algorithm works in 2024:

  • Purpose: This algorithm aims to enhance the user experience by presenting users with the most relevant and engaging content tailored to their behavior, preferences, and interactions on the app.
  • User engagement: The algorithm favors posts with high engagement, including likes, comments, shares, and views, especially soon after they’re published.
  • Recency: Newer posts are given some preference, ensuring users see fresh content, though not in strictly chronological order as in Instagram’s early days.
  • Relationships: If a user frequently interacts with another account (likes, comments, DMs), the algorithm recognizes this relationship and prioritizes content from that account in the user’s feed.
  • Profile searches: Regularly searching for a specific profile indicates a strong interest, prompting the algorithm to showcase more of that profile’s content.
  • Content type & interaction duration: Depending on the type of content (photo, video, carousel) and the time spent by a user on it, the algorithm adjusts what type of content to show more of in their feed.
  • Direct sharing & DMs: Content shared through direct messages or stories suggests high engagement and might get a boost from the algorithm.
  • Frequency of use: The frequency with which a user opens Instagram can influence what they see; more frequent users might see a blend of recent and relevant posts.
  • Following count: Users following many accounts might not see all posts from every account due to the sheer volume of potential content.
  • Diversified content streams: Your main feed, Instagram Stories, Explore Page, and Reels have their own algorithms, with frequent interactions dictating which content gets prioritized.

How Does the Instagram Algorithm Work?

Social media algorithms are the invisible hands that curate and guide our online experiences. Instagram, one of the most popular social platforms, continually tweaks its algorithm to ensure user satisfaction and engagement.

Let’s dive into the various aspects of how this complex mechanism operates:

  1. How does the feed Instagram algorithm work?
  2. How does the Story Instagram algorithm work?
  3. How does the Explore page Instagram algorithm work?
  4. How does the Reel Instagram algorithm work?

1. How Does the Feed Instagram Algorithm Work?

The Instagram Feed is designed to showcase the top content you’ve missed since your last visit. This feed curates a blend of posts from the people you’re following, and from Instagram profiles that might align with your interests, determined by predictive algorithms.

Since the very beginning of the year, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri has announced that the platform will focus more on photos when it comes to Instagram feed content. 

Here are some other factors that influence the Instagram feed algorithm:

  • Your likelihood to engage with the post through comments, likes, or shares
  • The probability of you checking out the profile
  • The anticipated duration you’d spend reading a post

The sequence in which posts appear is determined by your past interactions, the post’s popularity, information about the person who posted, and your relationship with their account.

instagram story tab

To personalize your Feed, you can mark certain accounts as favorites, positioning their content at the forefront. Alternatively, you can view the Following Feed to see posts from the accounts you follow in chronological order. 

To maximize reach and engagement, understanding when your audience is most active is key. Instead of manually trying to post during these peak times, tools like SocialBee come in handy. By scheduling posts at optimal times based on your audience’s engagement patterns, you can ensure your content gets the attention it deserves.

Furthermore, with tools like SocialBee, not only can you optimize posting times, but you can also gain insights into the kind of content that resonates most with your audience. This data-driven approach takes the guesswork out of content creation and allows for a more strategic approach to Instagram.

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SocialBee is your all-in-one solution for streamlining social media content management. With a robust scheduling tool, you can effortlessly design a calendar-based strategy for timely posts across all your platforms. Especially for Instagram enthusiasts, SocialBee supports a myriad of content types including single images, videos, carousels, Stories, and Reels.

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2. How Does the Story Instagram Algorithm Work?

When you launch the Instagram app, prominently displayed at the top is a line-up of the most recent Stories from the profiles you follow. The Instagram Stories algorithm works meticulously behind the scenes to curate this lineup.

Its purpose? To ensure you see Stories you’re most likely to engage with, based on a range of predictive measures or proxies.

Instagram assesses all the Stories from your followers over the last day to understand which ones capture your attention first. Instagram’s objective is not just to showcase any story, but to predict the ones you’ll potentially open, respond to, show emotions for, or even like.

The Instagram algorithm ranking factors are driven by various signals derived from your past interactions with Stories. These signals are pivotal in deciding the order in which Stories are presented to you or other Instagram users. 

Instagram Story

These are some of the factors that influence the way Story Instagram algorithm works:

  • Frequency of viewing: How often you watch Stories from a particular creator or account in the past few weeks.
  • Interaction level: The regularity with which you engage or interact with an author’s Stories.
  • Connection depth: Determined by how often you’ve messaged or communicated with the creator.

By aligning Stories based on these personalized proxies, signals, and predictions, Instagram aspires to prioritize Stories from those you have the deepest connections with or care about the most.

3. How Does the Explore Page Instagram Algorithm Work?

Instagram’s Explore page operates on an algorithm that seeks to usher users into a world of fresh and relevant content. 

explore page

This algorithm is informed by the same cues used for the feed and Stories, but its specialty lies in personalizing and ranking content that resonates most with individual users. Among the many interactions, the algorithm holds likes, saves, and shares in the highest regard.

Let’s consider a user who has a passion for gourmet coffee. Instagram’s algorithm might highlight posts about specialty coffee brewing techniques, reviews of local coffee shops, or even broader themes like tea or pastry pairings. This is all in an effort to cater to their taste preferences.

For content creators, to boost the chances of your posts landing on someone’s Explore page, it’s essential to integrate relevant hashtags and be in sync with current trends. For instance, if a particular coffee bean or brewing method is gaining traction, incorporating that into your content can elevate its chances of being showcased. 

Being in tune with what’s trending in the coffee world or even in the broader realm of gourmet foods can help your content resonate more with users and the Instagram Explore page algorithm.

4. How Does the Reel Instagram Algorithm Work?

The Instagram Reels algorithm plays a pivotal role in shaping the user experience on the platform. Its primary function is to curate and present compelling content within users’ feeds, ensuring that audiences are consistently exposed to fresh and engaging videos. 

text over reels

Here’s a breakdown of how the Instagram Reel algorithm works:

  • Diverse discovery: Unlike the regular Instagram feed which mainly showcases posts from followed accounts, the Reels algorithm aims to introduce users to new, compelling content from a broader range of creators.
  • Sound popularity: When you post Instagram Reels, you can add an audio track to each one of them. The level of user engagement with the sound can also boost your Reel content.
  • Past interactions: The algorithm takes note of the Reels users have previously engaged with (viewed, liked, commented on, or shared), using this data to predict future interests.
  • Similar user preferences: By observing what similar users like or engage with, the algorithm can make more informed recommendations.
  • Emphasis on quality: To stand out and be promoted by the algorithm, creators are incentivized to produce high-quality, compelling content that resonates with viewers. This ensures a consistent standard of content on the platform.
  • Dynamic refinement: The more a user interacts with Reels, the better the algorithm becomes at tailoring recommendations. Over time, this results in a highly personalized and engaging feed.

Tips for Using the 2024 Instagram Algorithm to Your Advantage

In 2024, effectively navigating Instagram’s digital maze requires more than simply sharing photos; it demands a strategic approach. To truly stand out and harness the platform’s vast potential, it’s essential to understand and adapt to its current algorithm. 

Here are some tailored tips to help you optimize your content, engagement, and overall Instagram strategy:

  1. Post at the right time
  2. Craft original content
  3. Monitor your Instagram DMs and comments
  4. Use relevant hashtags and keywords
  5. Add location tags
  6. Respect community guidelines

1. Post at the Right Time

To maximize the reach and impact of your content on Instagram, it’s essential to schedule and publish posts when your audience is most active. Understanding your users’ interests and behavior plays a crucial role in determining the optimal times for engagement.

It’s not just about posting frequently; it’s about posting strategically. Optimal timing can significantly enhance the visibility and engagement of your content.

With tools like SocialBee, not only can you optimize posting times, but you can also gain insights into the kind of content that resonates most with your audience. This data-driven approach takes the guesswork out of content creation and allows for a more strategic approach to Instagram.

Best day to post on Instagram Worst day to post on Instagram Best time to post on Instagram
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  • Wednesday
  • Friday
  • Saturday
  • Sunday
  • 6 AM – 9 AM
  • 12 PM – 2 PM
  • 5 PM – 6 PM

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In a landscape that’s continually shifting, leveraging advanced tools and staying informed about algorithm changes is the best way to ensure your content stands out and reaches its intended audience.

2. Craft Original Content

The Instagram algorithm loves unique, authentic content that engages users. 

Here are some tips to craft high-quality content:

  • Raw over refined: In a platform saturated with polished images, unedited or minimally edited photos can stand out. Showcase the real, unfiltered moments to offer authenticity, which can resonate deeply with viewers.
  • Embrace imperfections: Whether it’s a candid shot, an off-center frame, or even a photo with a slight blur, content that doesn’t always adhere to the “perfect” aesthetic can be refreshing and relatable.
  • Repurpose content: Reuse and reimagine your top-performing content. You could turn a photo into a graphic, or a carousel post, or even a video. This not only gives old content new life but also saves time.
  • Vertical storytelling: Instead of single, standalone posts, create a sequence of interconnected content that tells a story. This encourages viewers to engage more deeply and spend more time with your content.
  • Text as visuals: Use text-based posts or incorporate text heavily into your visuals. A profound quote, an interesting fact, or even a short story presented as an image can capture attention amidst a sea of photos.
  • Blend mediums: Combine photographs with illustrations, animations, or digital overlays. This blend can create a unique aesthetic that distinguishes your content from others.

Dedicating effort to original content not only satisfies the algorithm but also captivates and retains your audience’s attention.

3. Monitor Your Instagram DMs and Comments

Engaging with the responses you receive on your Instagram content is more crucial than many realize. The content posted on Instagram doesn’t just gain traction because of its quality or creativity; one of the most important ranking factors is user engagement. 

Algorithm ranking factors include how often users interact with your content, and a history of interacting with the person who posted plays a significant role. 

If someone frequently interacts with your content by leaving comments or sending DMs, and you actively respond, it tells the algorithm that there’s a valuable connection there. This, in turn, can boost the visibility of your future posts in their feed.

Managing and responding to these interactions can be a time-consuming task. To streamline this process, you can use tools like SocialBee, which allows you to track mentions, comments, and DMs, ensuring you never miss an opportunity to engage with your audience.SocialBee Social Inbox

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By integrating tools like SocialBee into your social media strategy, not only do you ensure consistent and timely audience engagement, but you also free up valuable time, allowing you to focus on creating more compelling content and strategizing for further growth.

4. Use Relevant Hashtags and Keywords

Using relevant hashtags and keywords is more than just a way to categorize your content; it’s about providing essential information about the post and ensuring it reaches the right target audience. 

By incorporating pertinent hashtags, your photos and videos become discoverable to a broader audience, including those who might not be your followers but share similar interests. Instagram’s algorithm ranks content based on its relevance, and one way it gauges this is by evaluating the hashtags used in relation to users’ interests and behavior. 

Adam Mosseri also mentioned in an Instagram Story that using hashtags doesn’t necessarily boost a post’s reach compared to posts with few or no hashtags. However, he did commend the proper use of hashtags. Therefore, strategically selecting hashtags that align with your content increases its chances of appearing in user feeds.

5. Add Location Tags

Geotagging, or adding location tags to your posts, provides valuable information about the person who posted and the context of the content. This feature is especially beneficial for photos and videos that have a location-centric appeal. 

By geotagging, you not only enhance the authenticity of your post but also cater to a local audience or those interested in that particular location. 

The Instagram algorithm often factors in location-based activity across the platform, making it more likely for your content to reach users who have shown interest in that specific area or locale.

6. Respect Community Guidelines

Abiding by Instagram’s community guidelines is not just a matter of principle but also has a direct impact on the visibility and popularity of a post. The platform has set rules that rank content based on its adherence to these guidelines. 

For instance, video content that violates any of these norms might not only get lower engagement but could also face penalties or removal. 

Instagram accounts, especially business accounts, need to be particularly vigilant. Ensuring that their content aligns with these guidelines is paramount not just for maintaining a good reputation but also for optimizing reach and engagement on the platform.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Is the Most Important Thing to Keep in Mind about the Instagram Algorithm?

The most important thing to understand about the Instagram algorithm is that it prioritizes engagement. The algorithm is designed to show users content that they are likely to engage with, based on their past interactions.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown:

  • User engagement: Content that receives higher engagement (likes, comments, shares, and saves) shortly after being posted is seen as valuable and is therefore more likely to be displayed prominently in users’ feeds. Similarly, content that keeps users on the platform longer, such as videos or carousel posts that require more time to view, may also be favored.
  • Relationship with the poster who posted: If a user frequently interacts with an account (e.g., liking, commenting, DMing, or tagging), the algorithm interprets this as a close relationship and is more likely to show content from that account to the user.
  • Profile searches: If a user searches for your profile repeatedly, Instagram considers your content highly relevant to that user.
  • Content recency: While engagement is vital, the algorithm also considers how recently the content was posted. Newer posts are generally prioritized over older ones.
2. Why Is the Reach on My Instagram Feed Posts So Low?

The diminishing reach of Instagram feed posts can be attributed to several factors:

  • Feed algorithm: Instagram now prioritizes content based on user engagement and relevance rather than post time. If your content isn’t deemed engaging, it might be shown less frequently.
  • Platform changes: Adjustments to Instagram features or the algorithm itself can influence post visibility.
  • Content competition: With millions of daily posts, standing out is essential. If users often skip your posts, the algorithm might reduce its visibility.
3. Why Are There Different Algorithms for Feed, Explore, and Reels?

Instagram uses distinct algorithms for Feed, Explore, and Reels due to their unique purposes:

  • Feed: Prioritizes updates from accounts you frequently interact with.
  • Explore: Suggests new content based on your interests and past actions.
  • Reels: Focuses on trending short-form videos for entertainment.

Different user engagements and content types in each section necessitate these specialized algorithms for an optimized user experience.

2024 Instagram Algorithm Solved: Time To Make the Most Out of It!

The digital dance of Instagram’s algorithm can be perplexing, especially with the new changes in 2024. However, staying one step ahead has been made easier with platforms like SocialBee.

A Swiss Army knife in the realm of social media strategy, SocialBee brings to the table features that streamline, optimize, and amplify your Instagram presence. With a focus on photos and personalized engagement this year, it’s crucial to stay agile and responsive. 

By harnessing the insights and automation capabilities of SocialBee, creators, and businesses can navigate the algorithmic waves with confidence. 

As the digital narrative evolves, arm yourself with the right tools and techniques. Start your 14-day free trial now!

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