One of the things that new clients ask is how to be successful on Instagram. It seems to be one of the most popular social media networks right now and everyone wants to know the tricks to it. I can tell you that there is no quick fix to growing a huge following on Instagram, but I can show you how the Instagram algorithm works so that you can be successful in time.

The Instagram Algorithm

Instagram changed its algorithm in 2016 in order to create a better user experience. They wanted the best and most relevant content to be shown in users feeds. According to the social media scheduling service Buffer, there are three main points that Instagram uses in their algorithm.

  • Interest
  • Timeliness
  • Relationship


When Instagram changed their algorithm their biggest factor was how interested the user would potentially be in a post. This means that Instagram is using your previous likes, comments, and shares to predict what you will be interested in the future.

For example, if you continue to comment on posts from Martha Stewart, Instagram is more likely to show you posts from Martha and other food-related pages that you follow. They want to make sure that you are seeing content that you enjoy.

The downside to this part of the algorithm is that if you stop liking or commenting on people you do want to see, they may end up at the bottom of your feed. You have to remember that it’s not an exact science and is based on what you might in the future like to see in your feed.


Instagram wants to show you posts that you are interested in and that are currently relevant. This means that current posts tend to rank higher in the feed as opposed to posts from a few days ago.

It shows you posts from accounts that you show interest in and are current. Sometimes you get posts from an account that was posted a while ago simply because it’s one of your most liked or commented accounts. Accounts that you show little to no interest in will only show you current content.

The good news is that you can use Instagram’s analytics to find out when your followers are most likely to interact with your posts and post around that time. This will help increase visibility of your posts to your followers that repeating engage in your content.


Instagram wants you to be able to see posts from people that you have a true relationship with, either in real life or through the application. They want you to see content from people that you really care about.

They do this by bumping up content from people you frequently interact within the app. Remember – Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 so even interactions over there may affect posts you see.

Types of interactions that signal a relationship to Instagram can be:

  • liking a post
  • commenting on a post
  • sharing a post
  • watching Instagram stories
  • people, you direct message
  • people you know in real life

These actions signal to Instagram that you want to see content from these users in your feed. And they happily oblige.

How to Work with the Algorithm

There are other factors that go into the algorithm as well, but these 3 seem to be the main ones. What does that mean for people using Instagram to boost their business? You need to create fans that interact with content in order to keep it relevant in their feeds. You can do this by:

  • getting to know your followers
  • finding out their wants/needs/pain points
  • providing consistent content to solve their issues
  • engaging with your followers

Like I mentioned before, it will take time to grow your account and following, but knowing the tricks of how the Instagram algorithm works will help.

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