You want to finally hit the big visual social media platform, but do you really have to post five stories a day?
Post in the morning, post in the evening, at least 3 reels and stories, always with certain hashtags – but somehow you don’t succeed and you would like to understand the Instagram algorithm , because it’s pretty stressful for that:
Are you one of the countless freelancers who feel overwhelmed by Instagram because so many of the supposed guides to success contradict each other?
Info Straight From the Source: Understanding the Instagram Algorithm
To get straight to the point, the reason you couldn’t readily understand the Instagram algorithm is that there are four of them. Yes, exactly. Four algorithms.
This knowledge comes straight from the source: Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Instagram, has published a blog post and video to finally give us a proper explanation of how the popular platform’s ranking system works.
“In the app, individuals tend to search Stories primarily to connect with their closest friends, while Explore serves as a platform for discovering fresh and engaging content from various creators. For entertainment purposes, Reels offer a unique experience. To enhance user satisfaction and customization, we have thoughtfully organized these distinct areas of the app, introducing innovative features and controls such as ‘Make Friends,’ ‘Favorites,’ and ‘Follow.’ These additions empower users with even greater control over their overall experience.”
Adam Mosseri, CEO of Instagram
All Algorithms Flow Together to the User Experience
So Instagram has its own algorithm for Reels and another for Stories – but then the personalized user experience is also made up of the feed and the explore option.
One purpose unites all 4 algorithms: you should be kept on Instagram for as long as possible and be “busy” and entertained wherever you are.
The “viewing history” is included in the ranking of stories: How often do users look at the posts of an account? The most interesting ones are then prioritized. The number of interactions and the relationship to the authors of a post are also evaluated. It also counts whether messages are sent and comments are written. Therefore, stories that have a clear CTA and encourage interaction are best.
The feed is the “home base” from which users start their Instagram experience. It shows the content of the accounts that a user is following and also makes suggestions for additional content. These suggestions are calculated based on how long someone engages with posts or profiles, what they look at, and what they tap or click on. Interaction with the author also counts here.
Because Explores purpose is to discover new things, the Explore feed is made up of recommendations, which are posts and videos from accounts that users aren’t already following. Based on the user’s previous activities because they liked/saved/commented/shared or wrote a message. You can use topics, hashtags, and style of popular posts to inspire your own Explore tweaks.
Reels are also designed to help users discover new content, but like other short video formats, the focus is on entertaining users to keep them in the reel feed for as long as possible. Most of the reels are from new accounts that users aren’t following yet. Like Explore, Instagram searches based on a list of criteria and tries to find the most interesting reels possible.
So your job is to make as interesting or fun reels as possible that contribute to your goals. Reels are explained step-by-step in detail in the Instagram help .
If You Don’t Know Where to Start…
If you don’t know where to start, the best place to start is with Reels. The short videos can be used and reused on other platforms, giving you the best chance of expanding your reach to other followers than before.