The 2021 Instagram Algorithm Breakdown: How to Get Your Content Seen!


Once. upon a time when I started using Instagram many years ago, The feeds were in chronological order (but it didn't work).

Luckily instagram realised it would keep people on the site longer if they sorted the feeds by your interests. Like any good stalker he knows what your interests are by watching how you interact on the site and then converts this information into algorithms (patterns of behaviour).


The Instagram algorithm decides which content gets seen. Every single time a person opens the app, the algorithm instantly combs through all available content, and decides:

  • Which posts go to the top of the newsfeed, and in what order;

  • Which posts are featured on the Explore tab;

  • In which order Stories, Live videos, Reels and IGTV videos show up, in the feed, and their respective tabs, etc.

Basically, the Instagram algorithm is the set of rules that controls your content’s organic reach. Before the algorithm was implemented in 2016, people used to miss 70% of the posts, and 50% of their friends’ posts.

You can see the effects of this by looking at who is at the top of your viewing stats in the story setting, you'll notice its the people you interact with (inc DM) the most. It knows who you like and who you ignore and curates the content out that you will enjoy.

When you post within the first hour Instagram is watching that post and showing it to all your core fans, the ones that are really engaged with your content and also everyone you engage with. These are the people that you DM the most, share, like, comment on their posts. In lame man terms the people you are the most 'social' with on social media.

Instagram is watching you all the time, so when you post your content on IG it already knows who your 'core fans are' If these people react well to this content IG will start pushing the content to the next tire of your advocates and so on until your entire network of followers sees and interacts with the post. This reach includes the hashtags you have used and locations ect

Core Fans

Now you understand why its so important to have a core following I will run you through a few ways I increase this group of people to benefit my various IG campaigns .


Factor #1: Interest

Just like real life if someone speaks to you, always reply. This includes comments on posts and when you are mentioned. If you have any reason to send them a DM, even if its to say thanks for the follow etc or even discuss their latest story.

This will let IG know this person is wanted as part of your core following. Your interaction with them will also encourage them to like and share your content which then tells IG .......

You are interesting!

Your Instagram feed isn’t only based on who you follow, it’s also based on the accounts and types of posts you’ve liked historically. The more the Instagram algorithm thinks you will “like” a certain type of post, the higher it will appear in your feed and the same for the audience members you care about the most.

IG figures out who you care about the most, based on how you use the app:

  • People whose content you like (possibly including stories and live videos)

  • People you direct message

  • People you search for

  • People you know in real life

Instagram will try to calculate this relationship (and your interest level) as soon as you follow someone by serving you their content and monitoring how you engage with it.

Social media is at the end of the day for being 'social' so try and chat and interact with accounts as much as possible.

According to Instagram, the most important engagements for feed ranking are comments, likes, reshares, and views for videos, which is really helpful to know as you plan your strategy or posting plan.

Also consider how many people you follow on Instagram? If you follow a lot of people, then Instagram has more options to choose from, so you probably won’t see all of the posts from every account.

On a related note, it could be worth systematically doing some admin on your accounts by removing inactive or “ghost” followers.

If a large percentage of your following is inactive, they could be doing more harm than good for your account’s algorithmic ranking.


Factor #2 Hashtags

Hard working and under appreciated! Treat hashtags like online folders containing all the content that is relative to you.

Follow these relative folders/hashtags, keeping them relevant to your brand so for example if you sell beauty products follow #beautyinfluencers or/and #antiaging as examples, but not anything that isn't relative such as #guineapigs . You want to tell the algorithms you are 'Beauty' based. It will then loosely connect you with this genre and also collect all the content in this genre for you to see.


Factor #3 Countdown

That first hour after posting is crucial to the success of your post. Do all your account admin before posting:.

  • Reply to your direct messages.

  • Share posts to your stories.

  • Share your posts to your story.

  • Reply to comments on your posts.

All this new data is added to the IG algorithms giving it data that says;

'Hey IG I have potentially new people to add to my established core audience, look who i'm interacting with'

Everyone you've just interacted with will see your content in the first push out. These actions are time-bound and should be considered for the first hour after posting.


The Instagram Stories algorithm also puts a lot of focus on timeliness, as it wants to make sure it’s always showing you the latest stories from your favourite accounts. If you regularly engage with an account, their new stories will be bumped to the front of your feed every time they post — even if you’ve watched all their stories from the previous day.

So with this in mind, it’s a good idea to consistently post to Instagram Stories.

By posting to Instagram Stories more often, you have a better chance of reaching viewers as they browse their daily stories — and the more views you gain, the better your ranking will be


Factor #4 Posting Time

Another key tip is to post at the right time. If for example you want to advertise your preteen clothing line on IG , the worst times you could posts this content is between 7.00 - 9.30 or 2.30 - 3.30 as the parents are probably busy.

To work out your best time to post is to look at your instagram analytics or even look at your 'instagram live' (as if you were about to start a live video) and it will tell you everyone that is currently online.

Posting at the right time massively improves your chances of your core followers seeing your content and being able to like, share and interact with it. Its all well and good having a thousand core followers but if you post at a time when they are not online you've missed your window.


Factor #5. Add Value

Make you content 'Saveable'. if you are going to produce content that people can save (which is what you should be doing ) you need to make sure your content has value. So that can be content that is a carousel (multiply images) that has tips people can scroll through and save for a later date

Ask people to share their opinions on your content in the captions i.e 'comment below what you think' or 'whats your favourite' just ask open questions and kick start a great conversation.


Factor #6 Sharing

The reason why quote pages are so popular is because the content is so shareable. everyone has that moment where one pops up on the feed that feels relative and you know your friends will appreciate.

So its worth adding a few quotes or tips on your page that people can like and share.

'Tip of the Week' really works if quotes don't feel relevant

Bonus Tips

Share all your posts directly into your own story. it increases how many people who will see your posts with that first hour and even the next 24 hours depending on their IG usage.

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