How the Instagram algorithm works and how to work with it in 2024

Our easy to follow guide tells you everything you need to know about the Instagram algorithm in 2024
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The term ‘Instagram algorithm’ refers to how the platform decides to rank content.

The algorithm determines what will appear on user feeds, the Explore page, Reels page, Hashtag page, and Stories. Most importantly, it ranks content in order of what should be most appealing to the viewer. If you’ve ever wondered why certain content appears at the top of a page while other content is miles down, that’s the Instagram algorithm at work.

While it sounds like a thing of mystery, the Instagram algorithm actually makes perfect sense. It’s basically a system that analyses how people behave on Instagram, crunches the numbers, and uses the data to decide what kind of content users are likely to enjoy.

If you want to grow your following on Instagram, you have to learn how to hack the Instagram algorithm because it’s your passport to increased visibility and engagement.

How does the Instagram algorithm work?

While you’ll often hear the term ‘Instagram algorithm’, there are actually various algorithms involved when it comes to ranking content. All have a singular goal to prolong the time people spend on the platform by giving them relevant and interesting content. 

Below is a breakdown of the algorithms you need to pay attention to:

  • Feed algorithm – a record of the user’s activity within their own feed (all their likes, comments, shares, and saves) along with information about the post and the account it came from
  • Stories algorithm – any stories that the user has looked at or engaged with
  • Explore Page algorithm – a record of their activity in the Explore Page
  • Reels algorithm – their activity in Reels and information about the accounts that posted


These algorithms monitor everything users do and crunch the findings to show content that’s likely to tick viewers’ boxes. Learn how to harness these algorithms and you can make sure your brand’s posts are shown to users who are likely to find them interesting.

How the Instagram algorithm measures Feed posts in 2024

The Instagram Feed algorithm uses a complex process to predict the type of content a user is likely to engage with. It takes a post and monitors the following:

  • Post information – is it a photo or video? How many likes did it get and when was it posted
  • Poster information – are you linked to the user in any way? Are your posts likely to be of interest to them and do your posts get much engagement?
  • Their activity – what sort of content do they consume and engage with?
  • Their history – have they engaged with your content before?

There are also factors that can cause the algorithm to look upon a post less favorably, namely:

  • Low image quality
  • Lack of originality
  • Watermarks
  • Any violation of community guidelines
  • Content that’s been reported

How the Instagram algorithm measures Reels in 2024

If you want to grow your brand on Instagram, hacking the Reels algorithm is a must. As with the Feed algorithm, the Reels algorithm seeks to give users videos that they’re likely to engage with. 

This means that your Reels should be entertaining, inspiring or quirky, and high quality. Don’t post Reels that are grainy, recycled, or lack that creative spark because the algorithm will penalize you for it. 

Here are some key factors to boost the ranking of your reels:

  • Information – include up-to-date useful information
  • Account authority – the more established your account, the better your Reels will rank
  • Trending sound use popular or trending sounds to increase your chances of inclusion on niche-specific playlists
  • Hashtags – hashtag properly to be seen by those interested in your niche
  • Watch time – the longer people view your Reel, the better it’ll do, so go all out to capture users’ attention


And here are some best practice guidelines you should stick to if you want to maximize engagement:

  • Focus on quality – invest in the best camera you can afford, along with lights and a microphone. Use a clean background and shoot like a pro. If your Reels look amateurish, they’ll sink like a stone
  • Use effects – enhance watchability by using effects such as zooming in for drama, filters, or text effects to highlight important moments
  • Leverage captions – ask questions that users will feel compelled to answer, include niche hashtags, and mention other, bigger accounts 
  • Engage with other Reels – like and comment on reels both in your niche and from other accounts. You can also create remakes of popular Reels
  • Promote – it’s always worth promoting your Reels outside of Instagram, for example, on your website, blog, or newsletter

How the Instagram algorithm measures the Explore Page in 2024

The purpose of the Explore Page is to help users discover new content and accounts that may interest them. The algorithm customises each user’s Explore Page so it looks different to anybody else’s. 

It’s the one page on Instagram that’ll deliver content from accounts the user doesn’t already follow, and will rank the posts according to how interesting the user is likely to find them.

How the Instagram algorithm measures Stories in 2024

The Instagram Stories algorithm is a little different to the others as it prioritises accounts that the user already regularly interacts with. The user’s behaviour determines what shows up. The one thing you can influence as a brand is recency as this is another important determining factor. Newer posts appear first on Stories.

How does Instagram use engagement to rank content? 

When it comes to the Instagram algorithm, engagement is key, which means that comments, likes, saves, time spent, and profile clicks are all important metrics. 

Having analyzed the user’s behavior on the platform, it delivers content that they’re likely to engage with. As a brand, your goal is to create content that encourages engagement and is, therefore, going to rank well.

When you plan content, try to create posts that will do the following:

  • Attract likes or comments
  • Get saved
  • Prompt action from the user with calls such as ‘click link in bio’

10 ways to hack the Instagram algorithm

  1. Great hook – when posting Reels, go all out to make your opening as interesting and eye-catching as you can. Hook people in with exciting props, leverage a current trend, or serve up a surprising statistic 
  2. Trends – leverage current trends in songs, hashtags, or memes, but make sure they’re relevant to your brand
  3. Cross promote – signpost your new Reels by sharing links in your Feed captions so that your followers can find them easily. Ask them to head over, like, and comment. Use hashtags in your Feed posts so that both pieces of content work together to boost engagement
  4. Educate – the Instagram algorithm favours content that seeks to educate (and does it well). Aim to include tips, hacks, or behind-the-scenes footage that’s both informative and entertaining 
  5. Timing your posts – one of the easiest ways to harness the power of the Instagram algorithm is to post at the optimum time. You can find out when this is by following our comprehensive guide to Instagram posting
  6. Be consistent – it’s vital that you post high quality, relevant content on a regular basis to keep followers interested. In 2024, the Instagram algorithm is going to be promoting Reels heavily, so make a habit of posting them regularly
  7. Great captions – writing great captions is a good way to encourage engagement. If you want to know more about how to write the perfect Instagram captions, follow this guide
  8. Hashtag wizardry – Instagram prioritises hashtags, making them a powerful tool when it comes to hacking the algorithm. To make your post more visible, add relevant hashtags to your caption or the first comment of your post. Use trending hashtags if they’re relevant to your content. How many hashtags? You can use up to 30 per post or reel and 10 on a story, but maxing out on hashtags might irritate your followers. Five killer hashtags should be sufficient 
  9. Go live – going live on Instagram is one of the quickest ways to boost engagement. As soon as you go live, Instagram will send a push notification to any of your followers who have them enabled. You’ll also appear at the front of the Stories queue 
  10. Use analytics – the key to harnessing the Instagram algorithm lies in understanding what goes down well with your key audience. Every brand should delve into analytics to find out which posts worked well and which didn’t. To access analytics, visit your profile and tap on Insights 


For more information on boosting your brand on Instagram, check out our guide to Instagram ads and our insights into Instagram marketing, plus find out how to sell products on Instagram

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