How Instagram’s algorithm works

How Instagram's algorithm works

How Instagram’s algorithm works is ALWAYS in question if you’re a social media front-liner. There are so many variables! 

  • What should you post? 
  • When should you post? 
  • How do you get people to SEE your content?

Good news: The Instagram algorithm is not unbeatable. In fact, they give a bit of insight into how you can get your content seen by the most people. The four factors? Comments, likes, reshares, and views. But that’s just the beginning!

Let’s take a look:


Likes, comments, views, and reshares. They do matter! But maybe not exactly in the way you think. After a post goes live, a quick burst of engagement is an indicator that it’s a compelling post, and the Instagram algorithm will distribute more widely. This engagement is why post times matter! If you post something while your audience is asleep, that initial burst of engagement won’t exist, and there’s a chance your post can get buried. Not sure when your audience is online? Go to your insights!



If you’re not exactly sure what hashtags do, they aggregate relevant content into streams and allow you to reach audiences that are following along. Here are some steps to make this easy:

  1. Put your content into buckets. What types of content do you generally create?
  2. Build hashtag banks for each type of content. Maybe you have Food, DIY, and entertainment content. Each of these can have a separate set of hashtags to get that content to the right audience. We recommend keeping the number of hashtags on any given post to 30 or less.
  3. Follow other hashtags and engage with people posting content similar to yours!
  4. Engagement works here, too. If your post does well right away, Instagram will display your post more prominently in the hashtag feed.


Consistency matters—a lot. Whether you decide to post daily or some up with a schedule that works for you, don’t go days or weeks on end without posting. Can’t be online all the time? Consistency is what scheduling tools exist to facilitate.

It’s tough to build a relationship with followers when you ghost them every couple of weeks. In a nutshell:

  • Post five or so times a week.
  • Keep your stories active.
  • Engage with your audience regularly.
    • Answer some questions
    • Respond to messages
    • Repost stories that mention you

If you aren’t sure how to get the ball rolling or scheduling seems like a lot of work, maybe True Anthem can help you automate. We’re always happy to free up your time!

Other Q&A

Q: Does the Instagram algorithm prioritize videos over images? Or vice versa?

A: Neither! It bases it on the user. If the user engages with videos more often, Insta will prioritize the video. However, something to keep in mind is that videos take up 4x more real estate on Instagram’s explore page, which can help you bring in new users. Also, the video format increases the amount of time people spend consuming your content.

Q: Does comment length matter in the engagement algorithm?

A: Nope! Even an emoji will count as a comment.

Q: Does it help/hurt you to have a business account on Instagram?

A: Nope! All accounts receive equal performance from the algorithm. If a user interacts with you, they will continue you see you prioritized in their feed.

Q: What can I do to get my engagement up?

A: So many things! Here’s a quick bullet list of things you can do organically to help your engagement:

  • Cross-promote across Instagram! Use your stories to direct your feed, your Reels to promote your lives or IGTV, etc. Maximize your exposure!
  • CAPTIONS. Create engaging ones. Ask questions. Write things that are valuable to your audience.
  • Use all of the features in Stories! Polls, stickers, Q&A, all the things. Instagram Features will help your audience know how to engage with you.
  • Hashtags. Yes, again. If you have hashtags you’ve been using for a while, optimize. Make sure you’re reaching the right people with your hashtag banks.

How Instagram’s algorithm works is still largely a mystery and it seems like a feral beast, but honestly pretty manageable. Ensure you’re posting relevant content consistently and engaging with your audience, and it’ll work!

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