How The Instagram Algorithm Works for Content Creators in 2024

The Instagram algorithm explained for 2024: Reels, Feed, Explore, Stories, and more!
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Trying to be BFFs with Instagram’s algorithm is basically like navigating a maze designed by an overly-involved helicopter parent who still makes your daily schedule and curates your friend group.

Its rules seem to change every other day and just when you think you’re in the clear to post that experimental artistic undies photo series hashtagged #moodygrams, it throws you back in time out.

But being completely at the mercy of the mysterious algorithm doesn’t have to be your fate.

With some key insights into how Instagram curates your feed in 2024, you can use a few Jedi mind tricks to ensure your content gets the engagement it deserves.

Let’s take a look under the hood to explore how you can get this temperamental algorithm to play nice.

It Knows When You’ve Been Bad or Good

The Instagram algorithm takes into account several factors when deciding what content to grace your followers’ feeds with, including:

  • Their interests: If Debra from accounting likes to double-tap on fitness model posts, she’ll probably see more booty pics.
  • Your history: If you went on a crazy-eyed coyote puppet video binge last week, expect to see more unhinged content on your Explore page.
  • Device differences: The algorithm is customized for both iOS and Android. So Android users may see different suggested posts than iPhone scroller.
  • Location variations: Instagram caters to trends and preferences based on country and region. An Atlanta account will likely see different featured Reels or ads than someone in Indianapolis.
  • Current viral content: Instagram always pushes the latest viral memes, news events, challenges, and more to keep their platform hot.

The algorithm is constantly shapeshifting, which means content that was hot yesterday might be ice cold today. You’ve got to keep up with what’s trending to catch that sweet wave of engagement.

Nailing the Instagram Trifecta: Feed, Stories & Reels

Succeeding with Instagram requires understanding how the algorithm works across its three main features:

The Instagram Feed

This is the bread and butter — the posts you see when aimlessly scrolling during that 2 PM work energy lull. The algorithm decides the order of these posts based on:

  • Competition level: If you follow 2 friends or 2,000 meme accounts, you’ll have different post volumes fighting for your attention.
  • Post details: Time posted and current popularity matter. So a viral dancing dog video from 2 hours ago may appear before your friend’s 7-week-old gardening pic.
  • Relationship closeness: Instagram shows more content from accounts you engage with frequently via likes and comments. So stalking your ex’s posts might cause their vacation pics to flood your feed (not speaking from experience).
  • Post relevance: Each post gets an engagement score that helps the algorithm guess how interested you’ll be. So even if your old college roommate posted 2 minutes ago, if it’s about knitting baby booties and you’re not a new parent who knits, you likely won’t see it up top.

The Instagram Story

Instagram really wants you watching Stories, so they display frequently viewed accounts prominently at the top of your Story feed. Stories you see first depend on the following:

  • Interactions: Direct responses and reactions to an account’s Stories mean you’ll probably see more of their content sooner.
  • Closeness: Friends and family tend to get priority placement in your Stories feed rather than that random influencer you watched once.
  • Views: Similar to the feed, if you consistently watch someone’s Stories, the algorithm will serve you more of the good stuff.

The Instagram Reel

Short-form vertical videos are giving TikTok a run for its money. The algorithm considers:

  • Viewer interests: It creepily evaluates your past liked videos to predict what you might double-tap next during your midnight scroll session.
  • Content details: Factors like audio tracks, effects used, etc. provide fodder for the algorithm to guess what you’ll engage with.
  • Creator popularity: The algorithm gives newbie creators a fair chance at going viral too — it’s not just for mega influencers.

Beating the Algorithm at Its Own Game

If you want the algorithm to show your stellar content to the masses, you’ve got to play by the rules. Here are 5 hacks to master:

Prioritize Relationships

Reply to comments on your posts and engage actively with your community. This signals to the algorithm that people dig your content so it should reach more folks.

Get Creative with Reels

Blend trending audios, effects, and humor into short entertaining videos — Instagram is highlighting Reels content so take advantage.

Use Niche Hashtags

Target specific communities like #InstagramMarketers rather than broader tags like #socialmedia for better engagement reach.

Encourage Favorites

Ask devoted followers to add you to their Favorites list of 50 accounts so your posts appear higher in their feeds.

Strategically Collab

Team up with a complementary creator to double your audiences and build authority around shared content.

The key is staying nimble as Instagram launches new features and shifts priorities. Keep calm and algorithm on, friends. Consistently creating engaging content your audience loves is the ultimate way to win.

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