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6 Factors of Instagram’s 2021 Algorithm - Explained

Recently, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri wrote:

“It’s hard to trust what you don’t understand. We want to do a better job of explaining how Instagram works. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, and we recognize that we can do more to help people understand what we do.”

So, what is this ‘Algorithm’?


To clarify, it isn’t a code or formula. As Mosseri explains, Instagram does not have one single algorithm that controls what users see or don’t see, instead relying on “a variety of algorithms, classifiers and processes, each with its own purpose.”

Since 2016, the social media site has switched from showing content chronologically and has relied on this method to determine what shows up on your feed. Meaning that every time a user opens the app, the algorithm prioritizes new and fresh content that are within your interests in the hopes of keeping you engaged on the app for as long as possible.


Because essentially these platforms are businesses and they want to sell ads.

Nowadays, getting that sweet sweet engagement is harder than ever and working with agencies such as Kommune can save you time and money by making your marketing stand-out against the 6 factors in Instagram’s algorithm.

The 6 Factors of the Algorithm

1. Session Usage

Instagram’s powerful algorithm basically functions on the massive amounts of data stored. The more time that a user spends on the app scrolling through their Instagram feed, the more data Instagram has to curate your experience and to show you the type of content that is currently trending.

You can leverage this by identifying the underlying similarities among the content you see in order to tailor a post to increase your engagement.

2. Interest

As we mentioned that the algorithm runs on data, Instagram tracks the behavior of users within the app and uses this information to comb through timely and fresh posts to evaluate and predict which ones each user would find interesting. The data they assess includes posts, accounts, and hashtags that you view and engage with.

The posts that they predict to be the most interesting will also appear on the top of your feed and will most likely show on your timeline for a longer period of time. This is why consistency is a huge factor when it comes to posting content since it will show up among other accounts with similar interests.

3. Following

The number of people you follow/ following you does matter. The more accounts a user follows, the more information the algorithm has to predict areas of interest. This also means that the more similar accounts that follow you, the wider your social reach would be within that area of interest.

That is why in 2021, having inactive, ghost, or fake followers actually harms your engagement rate since they are excluded from the algorithm. You can increase your engagement rate by removing inactive or bot accounts to start growing again.

4. Timeliness


This is a pretty easy one, as the newer the post, the more engagement it will have.

Thanks to Instagram Insights, you can check when your followers are most active on the app and plan your posts accordingly. There are also third party sites and apps that calculate the top 7 best times to post for each user!

5. Relationship

Have you wondered why your ex’s posts show up so often? It’s because the algorithm prioritizes accounts that you engage with or care about (or used to). Meaning that the more you interact with other accounts, the more you will show up on that user’s feed.

Interactions can be anything from direct messages, comments, likes, or views. Remember, when you upload a photo, Instagram takes the first 10 minutes to predict the level of engagement, so make sure to get as much interaction as possible within that time.

6. Frequency

The last factor that Instagram takes into account is frequency of your usage. The more frequent you post and interact with other accounts, the more data is collected and the more ‘valuable’ you are as a user. So unfortunately, if you want to grow your account it is recommended that you open the app and interact with others at least everyday.

To Sum It Up

Instagram essentially uses your data and content to generate revenue. The algorithm helps them make even more money by manipulating users to spend as much time on the platform as possible.


You Can Leverage This By:

  1. Feeding the right data to Instagram

  2. Post consistent content to attract accounts of similar interest

  3. Interact with similar accounts as much as possible

  4. Remove inactive followers from your account to increase engagement rate

Want to know more? Let us tell you all there is to know.

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