Working with the Instagram Algorithm

Since its launch in 2012, Instagram has always been a photography focused app, shining a light on life's more artistic, picture-perfect moments. Over the years it has evolved into a platform for marketing and celebrity influence, becoming a space for people and brands to make a name for themselves. 

As Instagram’s popularity grew, in 2016, posts moved from appearing in chronological order to following an algorithm. The algorithm was created by Instagram to improve the user experience, help brands and influencers reach their audiences easier and create an illusion of endless scrolling. 

So, how does it work? The algorithm relies on three factors: when the post was published, the user’s relationship to the publisher of the post, and the user’s level of interest in the content.


While things aren’t chronological anymore, timeliness is still a factor, so frequent posting should still be a part of your overall strategy. No matter the algorithm, posting regularly will help you grow your audience, stay relevant and help create consistent messaging.


The easiest way to build a relationship with users is through engagement. The algorithm is looking at who the user is engaging with, but also who engages with the user. You can build a relationship with users by liking and commenting on their photos. When you do this, the user may comment back, like your comment, visit your profile, and follow you (if they don’t already). 

It’s important to build a relationship even with users who don’t follow you. While you’re not affecting their direct newsfeed, engaging with a user gives you a better chance of ending up on their explore page. 


Don’t ditch the hashtags! They’re not as popular as they were when Instagram first began, but hashtags will help your content land on the explore page. The Instagram explore page is populated by content similar based on who you follow and posts you like or save. The easiest way to fit your content into a genre recognizable by Instagram is through hashtags.

Overall, the goal of the Instagram algorithm is to give every user content they’re interested in. This may sound limiting, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as you are putting in the effort, delivering good content and engaging with users, your content will reach the audience it's meant to quickly and efficiently. Make the Instagram algorithm work in your favor!

Reach out with any questions you might have regarding how RSO can help you with your digital marketing.

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