Instagram has had an algorithm in place since 2016, scrapping the “most recent” feed view, but it wasn’t until last week that they revealed how this algorithm works. Like Facebook, the Instagram algorithm uses machine-based learning to determine how your feed looks like every time you log in. Understanding this feed can help with social media marketing efforts on the visual social media app.

3 Main Factors

The Instagram algorithm mainly relies on three factors to determine how it sorts out content on feeds. These factors include:

Interest – What Instagram thinks you want to see based on past behaviours, including what types of posts you tend to engage with the most.

Timeliness – Priority is given over more recent posts. Instagram recently changed this part of the algorithm after users complained they were seeing posts that were too old.

Relationship – Instagram takes into consideration how close you are to other users. It looks at how often you engage with specific accounts, including being tagged in photos together.

Additional Influences

Although those are the three main factors, what you see each time you log in can also be influenced by:

Frequency – Instagram will always try to show you the best content each time you log in.

Usage – If Instagram sees you spend a lot of time scrolling, it will need to find more content relevant for you.

Following – Those who follow a lot of accounts will tend to mainly see the accounts Instagram thinks you like to look at the most first, so you may see less of specific accounts.

Popular Questions Answered

Instagram also took the time to denounce some myths surrounding the platform:

They don’t hide content. Very much like Facebook, Instagram will show you what it thinks you want to see the most first. However, unlike Facebook, Instagram does not hide posts. They are all on your feed, but you will have to keep scrolling to see them all.

Photos and videos are weighted the same. Instagram does not favour videos over photos like Facebook too, but if you tend to spend more time looking at videos, then Instagram may rank these higher on your feed.

Personal accounts don’t get preference over business accounts. Facebook may have announced a move to see more from friends and family on newsfeeds, but for now Instagram are treating accounts the same. This is something to consider if you were unsure whether or not to switch a business account yet.


Instagram claims that this algorithm allows users to see 90% of their friends’ posts as opposed to 50% before it was introduced. People are also spending more time scrolling through the app. This can only be good news for those wanting to promote their products or services using the social media platform, but it is important to remember that the only thing constant in social media is change. As Instagram continues to evolve, it may need to re-think its strategy. For now, it is quite favourable amongst marketers, definitely more so than Facebook!

Do you use Instagram for your business? Will an understanding of the Instagram algorithm change your strategy in any way? Let us know your thoughts, and follow us on Instagram for more social media hints and tips!