I’ve been getting lots of questions on this lately: How does the Instagram algorithm work to maximize likes, comments and followers?

My friends at Hootsuite complied this original post, a long version, and I’ve distilled it for you, so it’s easy to understand.

Here’s the thing to remember: Instagram’s primary goal is to maximize the time users spend on the platform: the longer users linger, the more ads they see: accounts that help Instagram achieve this are rewarded.

Instagram’s top 3 ranking signals:

1️⃣ Relationships: Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes content from accounts that users interact with a lot: comments, DMs, tagging. The algorithm recognizes that the two of you are “close.”

2️⃣Interest: The algorithm also predicts which posts are important to users based on their past behavior.

3️⃣Timeliness: The algorithm shows users newer posts first. For brands, the timeliness ranking signal means that paying attention to your audience’s behavior, and posting when they’re online, is key.

Other Factors:


👉Frequency of Use: This depends on how often a user opens the app. The algorithm aims to show users the best and most popular posts since they last looked at their feed.

👉Following Account: If a user follows a lot of accounts, they’ll probably see fewer posts from any one specific account. But they’ll see a wider breadth of posts overall. But if they follow a smaller number of accounts, they’ll likely see more of each account’s posts.

👉Usage a.k.a. session time: A user who spends 45 minutes on Instagram will go deeper into the back catalogue and see more posts than a user who scans for 5 minutes, and catches only the greatest hits.

👉Using Stories or going Live won’t make the algorithm like you more.

👉Verified users don’t get special treatment (and neither do business accounts).

Next Blog…7 tips to make the Instagram algorithm work in your favor!

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