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Instagram Algorithms: How They Affect Your News Feed

When scrolling through Instagram, do you ever wonder why you see posts from people you don’t follow? Do you find yourself liking a photo on Instagram and then see it was from a week ago? You may think, “oh no! They think I’m stalking their profile!” Why does this happen? The answer lies in how the photo-sharing app delivers content to your newsfeed Instagram’s algorithm determines the content users see on their newsfeed.

Needless to say, changes to Instagram’s algorithm will also affect the content users see. Differing views exist when it comes to algorithms. On one side of the coin, people want relevance. But, at the same time, users also prefer content in chronological order.

Understanding Instagram’s algorithms require much thought and teams of engineers, scientists, and strategists designing these formulas. Let Premiere Creative break down how Instagram content makes its way to your newsfeed!

Your Instagram Feed

Any time a social media algorithm updates, it affects businesses and marketing. Instagram feeds feature accounts you follow but also bases your interests. Instagram’s primary goal places friends and family first. Previously, when newsfeeds were in chronological order, roughly half of the posts seen were from users’ loved ones. With the 2018 update, this percentage soared to nearly 90% in the hopes to deliver content that users will find more meaningful.

How does Instagram know your friends and family? Based on the content you have engaged with in the past, Instagram attempts to predict what matters to you. Also, owned by Facebook, Instagram uses all of your Facebook data. If you list people on Facebook as a relative or close friend, Instagram knows and factors this into its algorithm.

6 Important Instagram Algorithm Factors

So how exactly does Instagram determine a user’s preferred content? We’re glad you asked! While Instagram’s algorithm continues to change, there are six factors Instagram measures.

1) Interests

We all have our preferences, and Instagram’s algorithm will predict your level of interest in posts. If Instagram believes you will like a post, then it will appear higher on your feed. Based on past trends and Facebook data, similar content you have engaged with shows up first. Does this give you a better understanding of why you always see Motivational Quotes?

2) Instances

Instagram now prioritizes recent posts relevant to your interests. You should see fewer pictures posted two weeks prior, so you won’t look like a creeper when you engage with the post. Holiday posts now appear during the appropriate timeframe, and you can like accordingly.

3) Interactions

You may like or comment on posts from your favorite restaurant or celebrity from time to time. Likewise, a friend or family member may tag or mention you in a post. Engagement with posts sends a message to Instagram indicating a close relationship. Frequent interactions with specific accounts make these posts more prominent in your newsfeed.

If you feel you do not see enough of your favorite bakery’s cupcakes, start engaging with its profile. The more you like and comment on posts, the more sweets you will see. Also, next time you go and pick up a few cupcakes, post a picture and tag the bakery.

4) Intervals

Do you experience periods of time when you’ve simply had enough of social media? You’re not alone since many users take social media sabbaticals where they log out for a bit. But taking a vacation from Instagram, as well as any social media, will affect the content appearing in your newsfeed. You will see older posts based on your interests, which apparently does not include Instagram. If you feel frustrated with typically seeing Latergrams, the more you open up the app, the fresher content in your feed.

If you check Instagram frequently, your feed will appear differently, in a more recent order. New and relevant content continues to emerge the more you engage with the app.

5) Intensity

Do you consider yourself a hard-core Instagram enthusiast? The more time you spend on Instagram, the more posts you will see. You put Instagram to work as they will go on an expedition to present more pictures to you.

Maybe you use Instagram with a low level of intensity. If so, you will see the standard algorithm as it pertains to your behaviors.

6) Influences

How many accounts do you follow? If you can’t get enough motivational quotes and follow every inspiring profile, you likely won’t see posts from your friends and family. If you feel unsatisfied with your feed, the time for a purge has come. Lift any burdensome accounts by clicking the white follow button and changing it to a blue unfollow.

Accepting Instagram’s New Algorithm

Like any app update, we may love or hate it, but we have to accept it. Developers put much thought into algorithms. Some things we cannot change.

Chronological Feeds

Chronological feeds no longer exist, and Instagram has no plans to revert. If you find yourself dissatisfied with the posts you see, begin engaging more and assessing your Facebook and Instagram profiles. Look at friends and accounts you follow; make adjustments, and improve your feed. If you keep scrolling, you will eventually see every post if you keep that thumb moving. Instagram does not hide posts, and you have to balance the content. What you see can be tweaked to what you get.

Instagram Business Profiles

A business profile does not give a user preferential treatment. If you are thinking about changing to this type of account, it does not expand your reach.

Videos vs. Photos

Instagram views videos and photos as similar content. No matter how well you sing or dance, a picture says 1,000 words, and videos do not get a higher ranking. If you do not watch many videos on Instagram, you typically will see fewer videos in your feed.

Stories and Live Videos

These posts will not give you more clout. Instagram states that they treat all users equally and will not favor one account over another.


Don’t you love people who post pictures of every single moment? You see they ate Cheerios for breakfast and a Chicken Caesar Salad for dinner. You may not want to know every detail of their life, Instagram doesn’t issue a penalty for oversharing. You have an option of muting the content they share. If a user posts one photo after another, their posts get disrupted with other users’ posts in between.

Hashtags #winorlose?

What about hashtags on Instagram? #FTW (for the win)! You can post as many hashtags as you want with Instagram. Just don’t overdo it. Too many hashtags cause visual clutter. Instagram has been running new formatting tests. The concept to have hashtags sit under posts in squares has begun. Hashtags expand your reach, add followers, and increase engagement. A win! If you include at least one hashtag, it increases engagement over 12%. Don’t you think that’s #instagood? Businesses can post, using hashtags with a target audience in mind. Descriptive hashtags draw awareness to your business and can help deliver a positive image of your brand. Hashtags offer a free form of marketing.

Unlocking Insta-Success!

Simply stated, Instagram, described, as a photo-sharing social media platform app, limits computer capability. The term Instagram captures the words “instant camera” and “telegram” meaning a portable camera. Carrying around a laptop taking photos of sunsets and storms can be tedious. Users can share pictures they shot at any moment. With one billion active accounts, Instagram lets individuals and businesses express themselves to the world. Instagram has become a relevant form of social media. Sometimes people prefer looking at pictures rather than reading. It definitely can be used strategically to boost brand awareness. If you don’t use it already, give it a shot.

If you want to gain insight on Instagram algorithms and the instrumental role Instagram can play in your business, we can help! We would #love to help you get a handle on hashtags and other features. We want to keep you having #bestoftheday moments day after day and get ahead of other local businesses. Contact the Social Media Experts at Premiere Creative by giving us a call at (973) 346-8100, and we will make sure your #instamood remains happy!