How to Master the Instagram Algorithm

by | Mar 5, 2021 | Social Media

If you’re a small business owner on social media – specifically Instagram – right now, you may have noticed that things seem a bit different lately. Well, what came as a surprise to absolutely no one, but a disappointment to many, is that Instagram changed their algorithm. Again. 

And we know, it can be really difficult to keep up with all of these changes, and even harder to figure out how to adapt your usage of the app so that you appease the Instagram Gods. But, luckily, we’re here to help! Read on to find out exactly What’s Up With the Instagram Algorithm, and how you can make it happy.

1. Show up.

A while ago, Instagram changed the feed so it isn’t chronological anymore, but rather it shows the posts that the user is the most likely to engage with. So, logically, if your business posts consistently and frequently, the higher the chance that users will see and engage with your posts, resulting in your posts being pushed even higher up the user’s feed.

2. Be on time.

We know we just said that your feed isn’t really chronological anymore. And it isn’t. Not really, anyways. That being said, you’re still a lot more likely to get engagement if you post when your audience is actually on the app, versus three hours before they even wake up in the morning. To figure out exactly when the best time to post is, make sure to check out your IG analytics! There, you’ll find a handy little bar graph not only of the times of day that your audience is active, but also what days of the week they’re online. Later also has a feature that will tell you what your top seven posting times are based on your past post engagement.


3. Say goodbye to ghosts.

Not in like, an Exorcism of Emily Rose type of way, though. More of a “ghost followers can harm your account’s standing in the algorithm, so it’s best to do a purge of them” type of way. Think about it; if you have 1000 active followers, and 3000 inactive followers, that’s still 4000 followers, with 25% of them being active. Not too bad. BUT, if you are able to clear out the 3000 inactive followers, then boom, you’re at 100% active capacity. That will probably look pretty good to the Instagram algorithm, don’t ya think?

*full disclaimer, there’s a pretty low chance that you’ll actually manage to have 100% of your followers be actively engaging on your account. Not because of you, but because that would require a 100% chance that all of your followers are online at the exact right time to actually see and engage with 100% of your posts. A dream, but near impossible.

4. Be engaging.

This may seem a bit obvious, especially if you’ve been in the social media world for a while. But it’s important, and a lot of people miss the mark here! Instagram’s algorithm consistently boosts posts and stories from accounts that a user interacts with the most. Therefore, logic follows that the best way to get your posts to be seen, is to make your audience want to engage with them. Post polls in your stories, have swipe-up links (if you have 10k+ followers), ask questions in the copy of your posts… the list goes on! Keep doing this, and you’re sure to see a significant boost in your engagement. 


5. Remember the Explore Page.

In addition to your feed, Instagram also has the Explore Page, which, in layman’s terms, is basically a page consisting of posts from accounts the user doesn’t follow, but may enjoy. One key way that the algorithm figures out what posts a user might like is by searching through hashtags and keywords. That’s why it’s so important to make the best use of these. Making sure the accounts that already follow you are happy is one thing, but if you want to grow your followers, this is how to do it. Hashtags, keywords in your copy, geo-tagging, it all adds up to an account that makes the algorithm happy!

6. Use Instagram’s newest features.

Finally, one way to really flatter the algorithm is to make sure to actually use the new features that Instagram rolls out! Instagram really wants people to like and use their new features, so they’re going to boost them as much as they can. For example, Instagram is rolling out a feature that allows up to 4 people to go live in the same ‘room’ – see how you can make this work for your business, and watch how Instagram rewards you!

Hopefully, this little list will help you take back control of your Instagram engagement and follower growth. We know that Instagram has seemed especially difficult lately, but know that it’s not just you who’s feeling this way. Social media is constantly changing and seemingly throwing curveballs at us, but that’s why we’re here: to help you stay in the loop! What have you found to be the most successful trick you’ve used on Instagram?


Have questions or suggestions? We’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below or send us a message!