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Published July 20, 2023 in

How does the Instagram algorithm work in 2024? Posts, reels, stories

Discover the latest changes and updates to the Instagram algorithm in 2024, and learn how to effectively engage users and promote your business on Instagram.

If you’re new to social media marketing or if you simply don’t have much time to spend on it, the word algorithm might send shivers up your spine. It might make social media platforms seem like complex, confusing tools for businesses. But in reality, you don’t need to understand every detail of how the algorithm works on a platform like Instagram to be successful marketing there. You really just need to know one key rule: the Instagram algorithm looks out for and rewards content that engages users.

However, to engage users, you must first make your Instagram content visible to them. Luckily, that is something within your control. Read on to learn all you need to know about Instagram algorithms to effectively promote your business on this platform.

What is the Instagram algorithm?

Overall, the Instagram algorithm is a set of rules that determines what content shows up on a user’s feed and in what order. One affects what a user sees on the Explore page, a place to find new content and accounts. Another controls the Reels feed, which is for short videos, and one more for Stories that disappear after 24 hours.

Top Instagram algorithm ranking factors that are still actual

Although the platform regularly updates its approach to ranking the content, three fundamental factors remain constant: the relationship between you, the creator, and your viewers, the interest your content sparks, and its relevancy.

Relationship between the content creator and the viewer

When an Instagram user engages frequently with another user by following their account, sending them direct messages, or leaving comments on their posts, the Instagram algorithm takes note of this interaction. This repeated engagement signals to the algorithm that these accounts have a strong connection, and as a result, users are likely to see more of each other’s new content appearing in their feeds.

The same works for business accounts. Hence, you should timely respond to direct messages and comments to enhance your visibility and ensure your Instagram content reaches a wider audience.


The Instagram algorithm learns what a user likes by seeing what they often interact with. The more a user interacts with a certain type of Instagram content, the more of that content they'll see. This way, Instagram always shows users content they like and find interesting.

Therefore, if you want your content to appear more frequently in users' feeds, encourage your followers to engage with you. Based on their activity, Instagram will recommend your content to other users. To nudge users for interaction, you can use tools such as polls for posts, pools or stickers for stories, and so on.

Source: Instagram

Relevancy and recency

If your Instagram content correlates with the trending topics, it’s likely to interest more people. Instagram also considers how fresh or recent a post is—the more recent your content, the more relevant Instagram considers it to be. This is why timely posting is still important in getting your content seen by more people.

But should brands aim to post on Instagram every day? Rather no than yes. The thing is that posting daily can lead to content competing with itself as most users don't log in to the app daily. For example, if a brand posts daily from Sunday, and a follower logs in on Friday, the Instagram algorithm might only display one or two of the six posts. This could result in lower reach and missed information. The optimal frequency for posting to Instagram is typically three to five times a week. This allows for the sharing of high-quality, relevant content without overwhelming followers or diluting your brand's message.

Top Instagram algorithm changes for 2024

As mentioned, Instagram keeps refining its algorithm to keep things fresh and exciting for users so that they spend more time in the app. Here are the major tweaks they've made to the Instagram algorithm in 2024.

The new algorithm deemphasizes Reels

In recent years, you might have noticed that Instagram has been all about reels. However, Instagram head, Adam Mosseri, announced a shift in this approach. The algorithm will now consider other content types like stories and posts. This change, a response to user feedback, aims for a more balanced content mix. The revised algorithm will diversify users’ feeds, catering to fans of stories, posts, and Reels alike.

Replayed reels now add to your view count

Before, only the first time you watched a reel was counted. If you watched the same reel again, it didn't count. Now, every time you watch a reel, it counts. So, if a business makes and shares more reels, it might see its view counts go up. This change gives a more accurate count and encourages businesses to make more interesting content.

Reels labeled with text are ranked lower

There's been a lot of talk about how Instagram's reels are ranked. Mosseri confirmed in an Instagram story that reels with any word marks will be ranked lower. This includes obvious brand logos, like TikTok's, and watermarks from video editing platforms. But, Mosseri also made it clear that not all videos made outside Instagram are subject to this. Specifically, if the video doesn't have a word mark, it won't be affected by this ranking rule.

New content limitations for teens

From 2024, Instagram has put teens in a stricter content control setting. Now it’s harder for them to find sensitive content or accounts in areas like Search and Explore page. This change is happening to keep young users safe online. Particularly, Instagram restricts content for teens that includes violence, discussions on self-harm or suicide, content about eating disorders, nudity or sexually explicit content, and content featuring restricted goods.

European users now have chronological feeds

Instagram has introduced changes for users in Europe because of the EU's Digital Services Act (DSA). Now, they can choose to see stories and reels only from people they follow. These will be shown from newest to oldest. This also applies to Search results that won't be customized based on what users have done or liked before.

How does the Instagram algorithm work for Feed posts?

The Instagram feed algorithm prioritizes content that users are likely to enjoy and interact with. But how does this algorithm determine which content will be interesting and engaging to users? Instagram ranks feed posts by analyzing these key factors:

  1. Interest. The Instagram algorithm predicts user’s interest in a post based on their past engagement with similar content.

  2. Post popularity. The algorithm assesses the post's popularity based on the speed of gaining likes, comments, shares, and saves, as well as the post's time and location.

  3. Creator information. Next, it evaluates the content creator's details such as past interactions and post frequency to determine their relevance to users.

  4. Interaction history. It also considers the user’s interaction history with a creator to decide how much the user might want to see their Instagram posts.

How the Instagram Reels algorithm work

Just like feed posts, Instagram shows reels that it thinks a viewer will probably like and interact with, using certain factors to rank them. These factors include:

  1. User activity. Initially, Instagram's algorithm analyzes users’ past behaviors, like what reels they liked, saved, re-shared, and engaged with recently.

  2. Creator interaction. If a user interacts with a creator who posted in the reels before, the algorithm considers it as interest in this type of content.

  3. Reel information. Instagram analyzes information such as audio, video length, and caption text to determine a reel's relevance for a particular user.

  4. Creator information. Like the feed, the reels algorithm uses the user's relationship with the creator to gauge the relevance of their content to the user.

How the Instagram Stories algorithm work

The Instagram stories algorithm usually shows stories from accounts that users interact with the most, regardless of the story's specific content. Here are the signals for the Instagram Stories algorithm to display relevant content:

  1. User engagement. The Instagram system measures how much users interact with an account's stories through likes or direct messages.

  2. Viewing history. Next, it prioritizes stories from accounts users frequently view, assuming they don't want to miss them.

  3. Closeness. The algorithm now evaluates the user's relationship with the creator to estimate the likelihood of a close connection.

How the Instagram Explore page algorithm works

While the Home feed primarily displays content from accounts that users already follow, the Explore feed consists largely of content from new accounts.

How the Instagram Explore page algorithm works.png
Source: Instagram

The Instagram Explore page algorithm promotes content that it predicts users will find most interesting, based on the following factors:

  1. Post information. The Instagram algorithm considers a post's overall popularity, including the number of interactions it receives in a short period.

  2. User’s activity in Explore. The algorithm then analyzes users' previous actions on similar content to decide what to show them.

  3. Interaction history. Like other parts of Instagram, the algorithm considers users’ relationship with the creator and recent interactions. This part of the app primarily features content from creators to whom users are not subscribed. For your content to appear in a user's explore section, they should have interacted with similar content before.

  4. Information about the creator. The algorithm considers a poster's recent popularity, including interactions with them or their content, to diversify users’ Explore pages with different creators.

How to "beat" the Instagram algorithm to increase your reach

And while you can't directly influence the outcome, you do have control over the process. Follow these tips to maximize your efforts in improving your Instagram ranking.

  1. Switch to a business or creator account

If you haven't done it yet, now is the time. Switch to a business account to access insights and analytics features—this will help understand which content performs well and guide future Instagram posts.

  1. Choose the nickname wisely

Instagram search only looks at your name field and your username/handle for keywords, not the rest of your bio. If you want to be found for a keyword, or something specifically relevant to your business, your brand, your niche, your solution, or your product, those words need to be in both the name and username. So don’t waste time stuffing your bio full of keywords and hashtags; they won’t make a difference in Instagram search. Instead, use that space to explain what your business does and why prospects should choose you. Save the keywords for your name field and handle.

  1. Interact with your audience

Engage with followers by responding to comments and messages. This enhances visibility and builds trust, reminding them that real people are behind the screens.

If interaction with followers on Instagram takes up too much of your time, automation can help. For example, with Chatfuel, you can set up automatic responses to comments under posts and reels, direct messages, story replies, and mentions in stories. Furthermore, you can automate responses to frequently asked questions, generate leads, and even add a button to your Instagram ads that will open a conversation in WhatsApp.

Sign up for a free 7-day trial to assess Chatfuel’s capabilities for promoting your business on Instagram.

Interact with your audience.png

  1. Don’t overdo feed posts

When you post every day, you’re actually making your content compete with itself because your business’s average follower doesn’t open the Instagram app every day. So let’s say you post an image every day starting on Sunday, but one of your Instagram followers doesn’t log in until Friday. In this case, the algorithm’s not going to show that user all six of your Instagram posts. It’s going to choose one or two it thinks are most important, and not display the rest in their feed. As a result, your followers may miss important information from you, and your images will all receive a lower reach than if you had just posted twice. Posting three to five times a week is usually enough for most businesses.

  1. Post reels with trending audio

Reels feed, in contrast to regular feeds, primarily consist of content from creators that users do not follow, making them an ideal tool for reaching a broader audience. Using trending audio can increase your reel's visibility, as Instagram's algorithm favors videos featuring trending songs.

  1. Encourage engagement with stories features

High follower engagement increases reach on Instagram stories. To encourage your followers to interact with you, ask questions via the question sticker and try adding pools, stickers for sharing, and hashtag stickers.

Encourage engagement with stories features.png
Source: Instagram

  1. Post stories regularly

Ensure regular and consistent posting of stories to maintain your profile's "active" status and increase its visibility. And to help get your stories seen by more people, try using hashtags. You can add a sticker with one broad or general hashtag (like an industry, topic, or geographical area: #science, #socialmedia, #sandiego, for example). Stories are only available for 24 hours, so the chances that someone’s looking for something super niche-specific in that time frame are not likely. You have a greater chance of showing up in those search results with a broader hashtag, although there’s generally more competition for those.

  1. Tag users in your stories

Tagging other users in your stories can be a great way to boost engagement and reach. When you tag someone, they will likely share the story with their own followers, increasing your visibility to a new audience. Just make sure to only tag relevant users and not spam people with tags. Tagging users in stories can boost engagement and reach. When tagged, they may share your story, increasing your visibility. Only tag relevant users to avoid spamming.

Wrapping up

Mastering the Instagram algorithm isn’t about finding a silver bullet (which, to be honest, doesn't exist). It's all about understanding its rules and playing along. Create engaging Instagram content, keep up with your posting, and interact with your followers. Stay on top of trends and use features like hashtags, tagging, and reels to increase your visibility. Use your business account and analytics to see what's working. Remember, it's all about creating meaningful connections with your audience on Instagram.