Decoding the Instagram Algorithm in 2021

The landscape of marketing your business on social media has become more competitive than ever. Like most businesses, you have most likely created an Instagram for your business. As you maneuver the app, you may notice that your feed and explore page will start to become more tailored to your interests. This is due to an algorithm that is built into the application. This algorithm ensures you are seeing the content you want to see, when you want to see it. 

When Instagram first launched, the feed page would load in reverse chronological order. In simple terms, it worked much like your email inbox. Newly posted content showed up at the top of your feed, while older content showed up at the bottom. 

In 2016 however, Instagram introduced a new algorithm. This algorithm would decide the order of posts on a user’s newsfeed.

Since 2016, Instagram has continually updated the algorithm to better fit users’ needs. The big question for business owners who are trying to get the word out about their business is, how does the Instagram algorithm currently work in 2021? 

How it Works

Instagram monitors how customers use the app on a daily basis. It looks at the following for each user when they open the app. In turn, Instagram decides what content shows up for users. The Instagram algorithm revolves around:

  1. Interests– Instagram is a great place for people to connect with and follow people or subjects that interest them. Instagram monitors who users follow, who they interact with, how they interact with ads and which posts users like. When using your personal account, pay attention to what shows up on your feed. If you are liking and interacting with posts about fishing, for example, you will start to see more posts and ads about fishing. 
  2. Relationships– Instagram wants to make sure that posts people care about are being shown at the top of their feed. When an individual opens the app, Instagram aims to ensure that users see posts from people that they have relationships with, such as close family and friends. The algorithm analyzes the relationships between people by examining if they follow each other, if they are tagged in the same pictures, if they direct message each other and if they comment on each other’s pictures, among other factors.
  3. Time of Post– Although Instagram no longer works in reverse chronological order, they still ensure timely content is being shown to users. 
  4. Frequency of Use- The more a user goes on the app, the more recent posts they will see. The less a user goes on the app, they will see what Instagram thinks they want to see. If somebody is checking the app often, Instagram assumes they are using the app for quick updates. The app therefore assumes the user wants to see newer content as it is posted. 
  5. Usage/Session Time– If a user is on Instagram often, they will consume more content. In turn, more content will need to be displayed by the app. If the user spends a lot of time on the application, Instagram may run out of content that is disseminated by individuals they are following. In this case, Instagram will begin to show the user suggested posts they may like.
  6. Following– The more people a user follows, the more content they will have to choose from. This results in a broader feed.

Instagram will continue to update its algorithm as time goes on. For now however, these are the factors that determine what a user sees when they open the app. 

As you can gather from these factors, the more content that is posted on the app, the better. Consistently posting to your business’s Instagram account is crucial. Instagram simply wants more people to stay on their app. It is currently competing with other applications such as Tik Tok. Therefore, Instagram is rewarding accounts that contribute to the pool of content by posting consistently. These “rewards” may come in the form of Instagram boosting your content to the top of people’s feeds. 

Post consistently with value for your niche. This will drive leads, and sales as a result. 

Need help leveraging your social presence? Contact Above the Bar marketing. We will guide you in addressing all of your social media and digital marketing needs.