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Let’s talk about:

  • How the Instagram algorithm works based on our experience
  • How to “beat” the Instagram algorithm
  • How long it takes to make friends with the Instagram algorithm
  • How the Instagram algorithm works based on what Instagram says

Ready?

How the Instagram algorithm works in 2021 based on our experience

From trial and error, this is what we found:
How the Instagram Algorithm works

And that’s it.

Can you see what you need to focus on?

  • Getting genuine comments
  • Getting more “Shares”
  • Getting more “Saves”
  • Making people feel good or helping people so they come back to your account for more
  • Experimenting and engaging until you start getting more comments, shares, saves, reach and impressions (reach and impressions = more people are checking out your content)

How to “beat” the Instagram algorithm?

You don’t really have to “beat” the algorithm.

Don’t focus on the Instagram algorithm.

Focus on:

  • Engaging meaningfully with other people’s posts (see page 215 of our Instagram Guide for quick 10 minutes engagement strategies)
  • Creating content that people want to comment on, share or save.
  • Creating content that makes people feel good or help people.

How?

How to get more comments

  • Ask questions in your caption, your carousel, or in your video, like:
    • Has this ever happened to you too?
    • What would you do if___?
  • Start conversations, like:
    • What’s your opinion about this?
    • What do you think about this?
    • Or like this one that we posted on our account: “What is one Instagram tip you would give your younger self?”
  • Add calls-to-action at the beginning or at the end of your caption:
    Encourage people to leave a comment. For example, on our account, we LOVE playing with emojis. And we’ll tell people to share an emoji if they enjoyed our post. Like for this post.
  • Be yourself:
    Write like you would speak to a friend, show your personality, share a story, like we did for this post.

Tip:
There are a bunch of caption ideas in Preview app. All the captions are organized into categories. To get more comments, I recommend these caption categories:

  • The caption “Starters”
  • “Personal”
  • “Get Comments”
  • “Weird questions”
  • “Call-to-action”
  • “Tag” – to encourage people to tag their friends in the comments section
  • And all the “Questions” caption ideas – like “Travel questions”, “Food questions”, “Book questions” or questions based on different seasons like “Winter Questions”

Where are the caption ideas in Preview?

How to get more shares

  • Create relatable, funny, inspirational, motivational or entertaining content
  • Share quotes (these usually get a lot of shares)
  • Share memes (if it fits with your personality/brand)

Tip:
Use the “Share this post” caption ideas in Preview app to get different sentences that will encourage your community to share your post.

How to get more “saves”

  • Share tips, tricks, tutorials
  • Share ideas
  • Share favorites
  • Share something unique, interesting or motivational

How to make people feel good

  • Be relatable (people just want to connect with you, share highs and some lows – you choose what you feel comfortable sharing)
  • Be authentic (be you – don’t be afraid to show your personality – people will feel it!!)
  • Help people (with tips, tutorials, or things that have helped you, advise you wish people told you earlier)
  • Have fun / play games
  • Start conversations (anything on your mind lately? What’s something you’d like to talk about?)
  • Post frequently so people can follow you along
  • Write and talk like you would talk to a friend (don’t overthink it, just go for it. You can always adjust your caption later if you prepare it in Preview first)

Tip:

If you have a business, you can use these caption ideas in Preview:

  • “Service-Based Business”
  • “Behind the Scenes”
  • “Personal” (and relate it back to your business)
  • “Entrepreneur”
  • “Popular Sayings” (super fun ways to start your caption and be #relatable #ontrend)

Where are the captions in Preview?

Post Reels

Have you tried posting Instagram Reels videos?

Instagram Reels can boost your account because the “algorithm” loves them right now.

The trick with Reels:

  • Post them in your feed (not just in the Reels tab – we noticed even big content creators get more views nearly every time they post Reels in their main feed)
  • Use hashtags (especially if you have a small account)
  • Post consistently (don’t give up if your first few Reels)
  • Join trends (check the Reels or TikToks of other content creators in your industry/community and create something similar with your own personality)
  • Create your own Reels (have an idea? Just do it)

Tips:

Instagram Reels videos can beat the Instagram algorithm

Do *ALL* my posts need to get comments, shares and saves for the Instagram algorithm to push my posts?

Not every single post has to get comments, shares and saves all the time.

It really depends on your account and content.

For example:

  • If you share only quotes, you are more likely to get more shares over time.
  • If you want to share only super helpful tips and tricks, people will save them.

So you can mix things up.

For example, let’s say you are a hair stylist:

  • Post quotes (to get more shares)
  • Post tips (to get more saves)
  • Play games or ask questions (to get more comments)

Done.

Here’s an example of a feed you can create:

Instagram feed example to make friends with the Instagram algorithm

How long does it take to become friends with the Instagram algorithm?

You might say:

“Ok, I’m doing all the things: I’m putting calls-to-action, I’m asking questions, I’m posting consistently, I’m posting quotes, and I’m not growing or getting comments, saves or shares”.

Let’s be real.

It can take time.

We’re in it for the long-run. We’re looking for a sustainable, real way to grow our Instagram.

So I’m going to say it straight away:

Growth can take time

And let’s be ok with it.

It can take time to create your content, test different content ideas, engage consistently, find out what your audience likes or needs help with, nurturing the people who already follow you, until Instagram notices your persistence and understands what your content is about, and who to show it to more.

But once they do: you’ll be on your way to nurture an amazing community on your account.

So keep going. Even if it seems like people are not answering your questions. They are. People are reading your captions. They might not answer in the comments section yet. But you are starting a dialogue with them, in their head. This is a crucial first step.

How long does it take to grow?

It all depends on how consistent you are, your content, and how dedicated you are to your vision.

It can take a month.

It can take 6 months.

It can take a year.

We’ve seen new business owners posting quality content consistently for 6 months (and sometimes more) until they started to gain traction. And now that they have traction, their business is flourishing.

How the Instagram Algorithm works

How often do you need to post to make the Instagram algorithm happy?

Instagram is like exercising.
You won’t see results straight away.
But you’re building your muscles as you work out consistently.
Just like you won’t get fit if you don’t work out.
You won’t grow if you don’t post.

Moral of the story:

Just post consistently.
You will only grow if you post.

It doesn’t mean you have to post every single day.

Just find a realistic schedule that works for you and your life.

As we always say: “The goal is to be consistent. Not burned out”.

Click here to download our free Instagram Growth Guide if you need help, a system or post ideas. We share all our Instagram tips, tricks and strategies in there, from goal settings, to feed design, how to choose hashtags, Insta Story strategies and engagement flows.

How the Instagram algorithm works based on what Instagram said

Ok, you’ve read our opinion and what has worked for us.

But what does Instagram themselves say about their algorithm?

According to Instagram, there are 6 factors that influence what posts people see on top of their “home feed”:

  1. Interest
  2. Recency
  3. Relationship
  4. Frequency
  5. Following
  6. Usage

Let’s look at each one of them:

1. Interest

Instagram predicts how much you’ll care about a post, based on what you liked, watched, shared, saved and commented on in the past. If a post is similar to your interest: they will show it to you.

What it means: the more people interact with your content, the more likely you will appear on top of their home feed the next time you post.

2. Recency

Instagram will show posts that are recent first, instead of a few days old.

What it means: if you post consistently fresh content, you will be more likely to get more people to see your content.

3. Relationship

Instagram will show your post to people who interact with you the most, or who are the “closest” to you, first. How do they know this? By checking how much these people had commented on your post, and how much they tag you in their posts too.

What it means: the more people interact with your content, or the more you have interacted with them, the more likely Instagram will show your next post to them.

4. Frequency

Instagram will try to show people the best posts since they last opened their Instagram app.

What it means: If you posted hours ago, and your post did really well within these hours (you got comments, shares, likes, saves), new people could have a chance to see your post on top of their feed.

5. Following

If you follow 1000 people, it would be impossible to see all of their posts in one scroll. The algorithm will assess what posts would be the most interesting to you based on what you usually like, watch and comment on.

What it means: Once again, if people are interacting with your

6. Usage

The more time you spend scrolling, the more content you will see.

That’s it!

To sum up, this is what the Instagram algorithm loves:

  • Posts people comment on
  • Posts people share
  • Posts people save
  • Posts that make people feel good
  • Consistent posts (choose your own consistent schedule)
  • Being you and human (because people will come back to your account for more)
  • Interactions (people interacting with your content, and you interacting with other people’s content)

Connection = growth.

Have fun planning your amazing posts!

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