If you’ve been working on your social media content strategy or trying to improve your social media performance, you may have heard the words “Instagram algorithm.” But what does it mean and how does it work? Learn more about the mysterious algorithm and how you can use it to grow your social media presence.


What Is the Instagram Algorithm?

There’s a lot of confusion about what the algorithm is and isn’t. The biggest misconception is that there’s only one. The truth is, each part of the app (e.g., the feed, Reels, Explore) has its own algorithm that’s designed to select the best and most relevant content it thinks the user will enjoy. Basically, the algorithms decide what shows up first in your feed, Story, Reels and explore page every time you visit the app.


There are multiple factors that influence the Instagram algorithm for feed posts:


  1. Information about the post. What kind of content is it? When was it posted? How many people have liked it?
  2. Information about the person who posted. How interesting is this person to you? How often do people engage with their content?
  3. Your activity. What type of content do you engage with? How often do you open the app? How long do you spend on Instagram?
  4. Your interaction history. What’s your relationship with the accounts you follow? Do you interact or comment on someone’s content?


Instagram also takes into consideration the likelihood that you’re going to spend time on the post, comment, like, save and tap on the profile. The app then calculates and scores the post, which then determines the order it appears in someone’s feed.


How to Make the Algorithm Work for You

As complicated as the algorithm may sound, there are ways you can use it to your advantage – and it all comes down to creating great content. Here are our top tips to increase the chances that your posts will appear on your followers’ Instagram timeline.


Embrace New Features

Instagram is always rolling out new features, such as Reels or Story stickers, and they love it when users are quick to adopt them. The next time the app debuts something new, jump on the trend!


Create Different Types of Content

Variety is the spice of life! Or should we say the spice of Instagram? Creating different types of content helps you reach more people and even new audiences. While the algorithm doesn’t favor any one kind of post over the other, it will favor the kind of content that individual users interact with the most. For example, if someone engages with videos more, the algorithm will favor videos for that person. If you want to appeal to each type of audience (e.g., Reel lovers or feed fanatics), repurpose your content! For example, you could turn a video into a carousel post or share your post to your Stories.


Engage Your Audience

If there’s one thing the algorithm rewards, it’s engagement! The more engagement your posts get, the higher the algorithm will boost them. If you’re posting to your feed, make sure you write captions that encourage your followers to engage with it. For example, you could ask them to “like” if they agree, leave a comment with their thoughts, or tag a friend in the comments. If you’re posting to your Story, use one of the Instagram Stories Stickers.


Remember, engagement is a two-way street. If a follower leaves a comment, responds to a question sticker or direct messages you, make sure you interact back! When you engage with your followers, you not only improve the chances of your content being seen, but you also build a stronger connection with your audience.


Post at Peak Times

The algorithm also rewards timeliness. This means posting your content during peak hours or when the greatest number of followers are on the app. If you have a business account, Instagram insights can show you when your followers are most active. While this doesn’t guarantee a surge of activity, it may increase your reach and the likelihood your followers will see your content.


Leverage Hashtags

The more eyes on your post, the better. One way to do that is to use hashtags. Users can search and follow hashtags, which can increase your chances of reaching a wider audience. Plus, adding hashtags to your posts could increase your engagement. It’s a win-win! Just make sure your hashtags are relevant.


Analyze Your Content

Tracking the performance of your content is the best way to understand the kind of content your audience likes to see. When you know what resonates with your audience and what doesn’t, you can adjust your strategy accordingly to get the most out of the algorithm. This will ultimately save you time and effort in the long run. If you haven’t already, download our social media content planner. It will not only help you stay organized, but there’s space to analyze your content at the end of each month.


Before you promote your business on social media, make sure to read our Price Advertising guidelines.


Want more social media tips, content ideas and inspiration? Follow Herbalife USA on Instagram and Facebook.