Influencing the Algorithm-Based Instagram Feed

Google and its algorithm have shaped many of today’s internet platforms. By using intelligent technology that analyzes content, they can quickly determine what the user on the other end wants to see because it interests them or is helpful to their inquiry. The same functionality applies to social media sites such as Instagram. The Instagram algorithm decides which posts to show to people and much more. When we want to be popular on the platform, we should take a good look at this algorithm and what it deems worthy.

The Instagram Algorithm – Why does it exist?

If you have never asked yourself how Instagram decides what to show you, you have been unaware of a smart system that is constantly running in the platform’s background.

Instagram might be free, but it is still a business, and it benefits from many people using it. They are offering a service, and it’s in their interest to provide their users with the best experience, so they will keep coming back, spend a lot of time using their platform and recommend it to others.

So, what is Instagram’s service exactly? The platform provides its users with content that is entertaining and relevant to their interests. At the same time, it allows engaging with other people, whether they have the same interests or are famous people the users are fans of.

If you were to use Instagram but all the content in showed you was bad, you’d lose interest in it quickly. The more intuitively Instagram shows you exactly what you like, the more fun you will have when using their service.

Let’s say you create a new Instagram profile, and you want to find content. If you type in the word ‘Mustang’ you might find posts about cars and posts about horses. If you look at and like some horse posts, Instagram will learn that you aren’t interested in the car and start to predominantly show you posts about the horse. If you are interested in building a follower base in the USA and find your friends who are staying in the USA then there is no need to buy USA Instagram followers, the algorithm will automatically suggest people from there. Instagram just made using the app to find what you like much easier.

There are always analyses running in the background, looking at the things you like and using this information to curate the best content. 

If you search for a specific tag, there are countless posts it could show you first. To determine what is worth looking at, it might look at a user’s Instagram follower count. If one of the posts comes from an account with many followers, Instagram decides it must be high quality content because many people seem to regularly enjoy this account’s posts. This is one of many ranking factors that decide which post to show first. This is one of the reasons to buy followers to increase online visibility.

Ranking Factors

Not all Instagram ranking factors are public knowledge, but six have been announced by Instagram: Interest, Following, Frequency, Recency, Relationship & Usage.  

  • Interest – The algorithm analyses your behavior. It uses your followed profiles, the likes and comments you give, and which posts you look at for how long to determine what you are interested in. If you were to never look at video posts, Instagram would start to show you fewer posts in video format because it assumes you aren’t interested in watching videos.
  • Following – The number of accounts you follow determines what will be shown to you more often. If you follow few people, Instagram might skewer towards showing you the content from the person you interact with the most. If you follow many people, however, it will actively show you content from a wider breadth of users.
  • Frequency – If you use Instagram less frequently, it will not show you the most recent posts, but rather a collection of best posts that have been published since you last used the platform.
  • Recency – Instagram might not be chronological, but it still prioritizes the most frequent posts over posts that are weeks old.
  • Relationships – People you interact with a lot will be shown more frequently. They could be someone whose posts you like a lot or a friend who keeps tagging you in pictures.
  • Usage – Instagram measures the time you spend on the platform. If you use the service in short bursts, it shows you a collection of important posts rather than the entirety of your followed account’s contents.

How to use This Information to Influence the Algorithm

By knowing these factors, you can deduce the best actions when you are posting on Instagram:

  • If you know Instagram likes to show recent posts because it thinks they are more relevant, you know that there are best times to post your content. An Instagram Business Profile can give you the best information with the Instagram Insights function. It lists the times when users interact with your content. You can use this information to learn when your target group is online.
  • You can use the general fact that Instagram wants to market their service as much as they can market your content. If they add a new feature, such as Stories, be sure to use it. They want to establish the feature and will show it more prominently for a while.
  • If you know that the type of media content can be important, you learn you should not post videos or pictures exclusively, so even the people who prefer one over the other will see your content.
  • The relationship focus gives you an incentive to create engagement. When you make your followers interact with your posts more frequently, they will be shown your content more prominently.


Instagram’s algorithm helps its users have the best experience possible. It learns what their interests and habits are and applies this information to the things it shows them when and with which frequency. By looking at the ranking factors for Instagram’s algorithm, we can deduce the best practices when it comes to posting our own content. Timing, variety, and interaction are essential factors that will help our posts become more relevant in Instagram’s eyes.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.