Instagram has revealed how the Reels algorithm works, including details on how they recommend content to users and what will help increase your reach.


While Instagram’s main feed algorithm may still be contested (find out how it really works here), @creators ‘pulled back the curtain to show how the ranking algorithm works for Reels’ in a new Instagram post. The platform explained:

  • How they determine which Reels to show.
  • The four most important signals that can boost Reels reach.
  • How they determine which Reels NOT to show.


Knowing the factors that will determine how your Reel is ranked in the algorithm is powerful. It can boost your Reels reach, views and help to grow your account. Equally, it’s good to know what content won’t be promoted within the Reels algorithm, so you can steer clear.

How Instagram determines which Reels to promote


Similar to the main feed, each individual user will have a unique Reels feed depending on the interests Instagram has observed. Instagram uses watch data to provide users with content they think users will like. It’ll display a Reel based on how likely a user is to:

#1 Watch it all the way through.

#2 Like it.

#3 Comment on it.

#4 Go to the audio page of the Reel to make your own version.


That means a user is more likely to see your Reel if...


#1 It aligns with their past activity

Instagram will promote content to a user that’s similar to the Reels they have previously engaged with. If a user watches lots of football content, Instagram’s AI system will know what a football video looks like and will deliver that content to their feed. Similarly, if they’ve watched lots of Reels with the same audio, or if they have used it before, they’re more likely to see it.


#2 They have a relationship with you

A user's history of interacting with the person who posted the Reel is taken into account. This means your loyal audience members will likely see more of your Reels content.


#3 Is popular

If your Reel has millions of views, Instagram is likely going to push that Reel up the algorithm because it thinks everyone will enjoy it - no matter their interests. This means that Reels created by celebrities or public figures are likely going to be pushed up the algorithm, regardless of whether or not their content is relevant to users. Purely based on who they are and how so many people already engage with their profile.

How the Reels algorithm actually works

A user is less likely to see your Reel if….


#1 It has a low-resolution or watermark

Instagram made it clear that TikTok watermarks on Reels are a no no. A @creators post from February 2021 also stated that Reels with a border or with too much text covering the video won't be recommended to users.


#2 Focus on political issues

Instagram is yet to confirm what is deemed a ‘political issue’, but Reels that are made by political figures, parties or government officials on their behalf won’t make the cut.


To learn more about what you can do to boost your Reels views, click here.

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