How the Instagram Algorithm Works (And How to Make it Work For You)

Content, consistency, and connectivity are the key to the Instagram algorithm and making it work for you.

Over the last months of 2017 and well into 2018 the Instagram algorithm has been a significant point of discussion when it comes to digital marketing.

Brands, influencers, and Instagram users, in general, are struggling with the news feed which is no longer in chronological order which means posts need instant engagement to push to followers.  When the feed was in chronological order, it was “almost guaranteed” that your post would be seen. Now it is very much depended on how fantastic your content looks, how relevant it is and mostly how it connects your followers, so they engage with it.

In simple, the Instagram photos and accounts you interact with are the ones you will see more from in the current algorithm. This goes across your engagement on Instagram, from posts in your feed to Instagram stories, posts in the explore feed and your direct messages as well. The current algorithm takes into account all your activity. The ‘explore’ page on Instagram is a significant monopoly on Instagram especially with the new insights features which tells you how many people in the explore feed have seen your post. The idea of the explore feed is pushing relevant content to users that aren’t following your account. The more your content is seen by accounts not following you the more chances you have to grow consistently and make the Instagram algorithm work for you.


Content is critical in the Instagram/ Facebook game considering Instagram is a platform from Facebook. So where content is concerned look at it on a 365 basis – you are online 365 days a year, and you don’t have to post every single day, but your content needs to undertake what is happening around your business in the 365.

This is where the content map comes in. The content map is a brainstorm that outlines are your brand messages, campaign dates, and key dates in the annual year, so your brand doesn’t miss an opportunity online. The point of the content map is pushing your brand in a direction creatively and literally; this is crucial for a platform like Instagram where the first touch with a consumer is how content is framed. In the content map, consider using different techniques like the user-generated content or Instagram Story shoutouts. This is where you plan it all out to make it less overwhelming and to make it work long-term.

Having a look at your content is the first point to make the Instagram algorithm work for you. Looking at key touch points and capitalising on these opportunities.

Here is some clever content that aligns brand messages (visually and literally) but in a relevant way for consumers.

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We all know consistency is vital to the growth of an account on social media, especially on Instagram. Where the Instagram algorithm is concerned, consistency means engagement – organic and growing engagement.

To get engagement posting needs to happen consistently – at least three posts a week is the first step to gaging consistent engagement. This involves posting at the right times and when your followers are most active – use your insights!!!

Then there’s engagement on your end as a brand. Engaging (commenting, following, liking) content of influencers in your industry. Commenting back to your follower comments at least in a 24-hour window after your post has gone live.

Our trick – take at least 10 minutes a day to engage with people in the explore page of your account because these are accounts specially curated to be shown to you based on your interests. Engaging with these accounts opens up your algorithm to accounts that aren’t following you, and in return, your content goes into their explore feeds.


A combination of content and consistency. Instagram provides ample touch points to connect – just be savvy with the content you are putting on Instagram and provides points to engage.

Wha does this mean? Use geo-tagging and hashtags (the right hashtags) to get your content trending within geo-tag and hashtag feeds and stories. Use polls for feedback and provide opportunities to your followers to speak to you for example, “swipe up to tell us your thoughts.”


How do you know the algorithm is working for you- check out the difference in the following statistics.

  1. Profile views – how is this growing week on week
  2. Impressions and reach on both your feed and Instagram Story – how is this increasing
  3. ‘Accounts that saw this post weren’t following you’ – in the ‘view insights’ on Instagram posts


Still stuck when it comes to Instagram? Our Instagram Marketing workshop will answer all your questions and more.

Sameera is a Social Media Strategist and Digital Content Manager. My passions lie strongly in influencer relations + digital strategy. I thrive on creating campaigns for brands and purposefully harnessing the power that influencer’s can bring to a marketing plan.