How the Instagram algorithm works in 2018 – Everything You Need To Know

Earlier in 2018, Instagram updated its algorithm. Again.

We know, something else to worry about, right?


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But don’t panic too much – this latest change could actually help your organic growth.

Since Instagram announced its change from a chronological to an algorithm-based feed, back in 2016, commercial and personal users alike have been trying to figure out the best way to get their content seen.

Thankfully, the confusion was solved when Instagram staffers explained the mystery in June, this year.

This post will explain all you need to know about this latest algorithm and, thus, make it work for your business.



The three main factors: the three things that determine what your followers see

Other factors to consider

Conclusion – what you need to do


The three main factors: the three things that determine what your followers see


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Ditching the reverse chronological news-feed did not initially go down well with users. And whilst it took away the supposed simplicity of the platform, Instagram insists that it improved it.

They suggested that 70% of all posts were being missed by users with the old feed.

Instagram now says that users are not only seeing upwards of 90% of posts but are actually using the app more often.

The most recent update to the algorithm is re-introducing chronology but in a slightly different way. So, whilst newer posts are more likely to appear in the user’s news feed first, there are some other factors that could affect it. Let’s have a look at them and how you can make them work for your brand.

1. Interest

Instagram judges what your followers might care about the most, based on their past interactions. They look at engagement with and content of those posts, to get an idea of what that user wants to see most.


How to make this work for your brand: In this area, engagement is key. The more your followers interact with your content, the more you’ll be visible to them. Use calls-to-action, captivating visuals and captions that engage and encourage your followers to keep reading.

We should also point out here, that the more accounts who have a large, active and authentic following engage with your content, the more it’s visible. So, although any real-life, consistent engagement is invaluable to your brand, it’s also important to build relationships with the bigger names in your niche.


2. Recency

The more recent the post, the more likely your followers are to see it. This is a nod to the old way that Instagram used to work, and frankly, we’re glad they brought it back, even in its diluted form. As long as you know your audience and when they log on, it can really work in your favour.


How to make this work for your brand: This requires closer monitoring of Instagram Insights to figure out when the best time to post is, to reach the majority of your followers. You want yours to be the first post they see when they open up their app.

However, this can work against you if you don’t keep up with your posts. Post engaging content as frequently as you can when your audience is online to ensure you stay at the top!

Our best suggestion is to try upping the frequency of your posts gradually and pay attention to when your engagement numbers start to decline. For example, if you’re posting twice a day, try getting a third in and check back into Instagram Insights daily for an analytic report on whether your engagement increases or not.


3. Relationship

The Instagram algorithm judges your relationship with your followers. How often and how much your followers have engaged with your previous content will now make a difference to how much of your new content they will see.

The algorithm understands that the person with whom a user interacts with most is probably a person they want to continue to interact with and shows the content accordingly.

How to make this work for your brand: Developing relationships with your followers has never been more important. Consistent engagement is what you need, so knowing what your followers want to see and providing it is essential.

Take note of which of your posts get the most engagement and try to replicate that theme. Interesting and engaging content is always an absolute necessity. As before, you need your followers to engage with your posts expressively and be genuinely interested in what you have to show them.


Other factors to consider



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Aside from the three factors that are the main focus of the latest Instagram algorithm, there are a few other things to think about.

Instagram is a tricky horse to tame, but once you have, she’ll carry your business as far as it needs to go.

  • How frequently a user opens the app determines what they see – Seems a simple concept, right? But in our hazy days of five- hour Instagram marketing sessions, it’s easy to forget that the average person only spends a tiny portion of their day on the app, or sometimes don’t open it at all (the average, though, is 53 minutes per day, according to figures from Similarweb).

This means that much of your content may be missed by some of your followers, so keeping up with posting engaging and useful content is all the more important.


  • The amount of followers a person has determines how much of your content they’ll see – If the Instagram algorithm has posts from ten thousand followers to choose from, it’s going to severely limit the choices of what to display first, if at all. But if there are only five hundred, you’re more likely to snag a top spot with your audience. The main thing to consider here, then, is the quality and engagement rates of your posts. Be the best to grab the coveted top-post-spot.


  • The amount of time a user spends on the app also affects what they see first – If someone only tends to open their app for a few minutes, the Instagram algorithm will dump all of the content that the user is most likely to engage with, right at the top. This is another reason to build good relationships with your followers, so they see your posts first before the next mundane life task drags them away from your tantalising marketing techniques.


  • Hashtags – Hashtags work in much the same way as content. It depends very much on who has interacted and how many engaged followers the user has as to which hashtags will be most effective in getting your content seen. Again, it’s important to do your research here and choose the right hashtags for each post. Both hashtags and content are tailored to what Instagram has devised that each user would be most likely to see based on their previous engagement.

For a detailed look at using the right hashtag, check out this post.


Conclusion – what you need to do


To keep your top spot and your best followers you need to engage them. Give them beautiful pictures and useful, interactive captions, to keep them coming back for more. Know your audience to make sure you keep on doing so and be social. It is social media, after all. Interact with your followers and build relationships.


If you need a helping hand to boost your engagement and grab your followers’ attention, head over to Growth Factor to check out what we can offer your brand. From a free health check of your account to demographic targeting and post scheduling, we can help you to grow your following organically and get your brand noticed on Instagram.