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How does the Instagram algorithm really works?

As influencers on Instagram we are often asked about our expertise on how to master Instagram and how the platform really works. We have found that there is plenty of misleading or factually incorrect information floating around, especially in regards to the ever changing Instagram algorithm.

That is why we decided to put together this article on how the Instagram algorithm works, not only based on our own experience and knowledge, but with facts backed up by Instagram product lead Julian Gutman, as summarized in an eye opening article from TechCrunch.

Instagram Ranking Criteria

What you see on Instagram is based on your past behavior, including what you have liked, commented on or who you have followed before. Even if you have the same exact account twice, each feed will be different because it is based on your interaction with each of the accounts you follow and interact with.

There are three main factors that the Instagram algorithm takes into consideration when displaying your feed and choosing which images to show you: Interest, recency and relationship. Pretty simple, huh?

– Interest: It means how much Instagram thinks you will like the content and how much you will interact with the post.

– Recency: The fresher the content is the higher the chance you show up, so stop posting once a month. It will not show as much as if you are posting everyday.

– Relationship: The more you have interacted with a specific account the closer the relationship Instagram thinks you have with that account. It could be by commenting, liking and even being tagged together in photos.

Other factors that Instagram takes into account are how frequent you use your app and how many people you follow. The more accounts you follow the less you will see from each person, but you will see more the longer you spend on Instagram.

Some things to keep in mind about the Instagram algorithm:

  • Instagram’s feed ranking does not universally favor the photo or video format. However, each individual feed is fine tuned based on what kind of content they engage with. There is a good chance if you never stop to watch videos you will ultimately see fewer of them.
  • Instagram does not favor accounts who use Stories, Live, or other features within the app. Engage with Instagram and your audience in the best way for you and Instagram will see this.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Instagram does not downrank specific users for posting too frequently or using a certain feature often. Instagram might swap in other content between someone’s posts if they share a quick session of images.
  • Instagram does not differentiate between personal or business accounts, so switching your type of account will not help or hurt your reach. If your reach is declining, test new ways to interact with your audience.
  • Simply put, shadowbanning is not real. According to Instagram, it does not hide users content for posting too many hashtags or tagging the same accounts. However, beware as your audience can view this as spam, limiting your overall reach and engagement.

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