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Instagram algorithm in 2024: how does the platform rank content?

In 2024, Instagram's algorithm still has the reputation of being mysterious and difficult to understand. Due to constant updates, developing a clear picture of its mechanisms to grow your popularity on the application is very difficult.

Thankfully, realising that many users fail to flourish, Instagram has decided to be more vocal about the way it ranks its content in recent years.

In this article, we'll dissect the 2024 version of the Instagram algorithm so you can better understand how it works and how you can succeed on the platform.

iPhone seen from the top left corner with the Instagram app logo
iPhone seen from the top left corner with the Instagram app logo

Key Takeaways

  • Multiple Algorithms for Different Features: Instagram uses a variety of algorithms, each curated for a different part of the app, such as the Timeline, Explore page, Stories, Reels, and Shopping sections.
  • Enhanced Monetisation and Engagement Tools: Instagram has introduced new monetisation features like "Gifts" and expanded subscription options for creators with over 10,000 followers. Additionally, it has introduced engagement tools such as "Hype Comments" on Stories.
  • Quality Control and Anti-Spam Measures: Instagram has intensified its efforts to eliminate spam accounts and bots, which dilute content quality and user experience.
  • Balancing Content Types: After focusing heavily on video content, particularly Reels, Instagram now takes a more balanced approach, giving equal importance to photo and video content.
  • Influencer Marketing Optimisation: Instagram remains a critical platform for brands launching influencer marketing campaigns. Considering that the algorithm favours content with high engagement, businesses should collaborate with influencers with active and engaged followers to increase organic reach.

What is the algorithm for Instagram in 2024?

Cambridge Dictionary describes an algorithm as "a set of mathematical instructions or rules that, especially if given to a computer, will help to calculate an answer to a problem."

For social media platforms, the "problem" is deciding which content should be promoted to which people's feeds and in what order.

Despite common preconceptions, Instagram does not use a single algorithm to decide which posts to feature. In reality, several algorithms decide which posts are promoted, each focusing on a different part of the app.

Let's investigate that further.

Essentially, a unique calculation decides which posts you will see on your Feed, another chooses content for your Explore page, another for the Story feature, and others are active in the Reels and Shopping sections.

To better understand how it works, it is necessary to understand Instagram’s purpose: to encourage the user to spend as much time as possible on the application.

Thus, while ensuring its interface is as intuitive as possible, Instagram must offer each user the most interesting and even addictive content to grab their attention.

The algorithm stores data about a user’s activity to best guess the content that will appeal to them in which order. It takes into account whether the content was created by the person's closest friends, relevant hashtags, and more.

How does the Instagram algorithm work, and has it been updated for 2024?

Instagram has introduced several notable updates in recent years, focusing on enhancing user experience, boosting creator monetisation, and boosting engagement.

1. Monetisation and Creator Tools

Instagram has significantly improved monetisation opportunities for creators. The "Gifts" feature, introduced in February 2023, allows followers to support creators through virtual gifts, building upon the initial "Stars" feature. Additionally, Instagram has expanded its subscription feature, enabling creators with over 10,000 followers to charge monthly fees for exclusive content, including live streams and stories.

2. Enhanced Engagement Features

Although not all user interactions have the same impact on a post, the number of interactions with a post has long been a sign of their value. Due to this, Instagram constantly tries to increase comments, likes, and shares on posts. Recently, it has rolled out a collection of new engagement tools.

"Hype Comments" now allow users to comment on a Story, giving people more options to respond than the previous emoji-only reactions. This feature aims to increase community engagement with Stories. In addition, the introduction of downloadable Reels with watermarks makes it easier to share content off-platform while still respecting the content's creator.

3. Content Discovery and Navigation

The navigation bar has been simplified, with the content creation shortcut now centrally placed and the Shop tab removed. Despite this, Instagram continues integrating shopping features across feeds, stories, and Reels.

For the Explore page, the focus is on presenting highly engaging and trending content from new accounts, encouraging users to discover new interests​

4. New Apps and Features

Instagram has launched the Threads app, designed as a text-based conversation platform to compete with Twitter. This app allows users to post text content, reply, and engage with others while linking directly to their Instagram accounts.

5. Quality Control and Safety

Instagram has accelerated its crackdown on spam accounts and bots. These accounts dilute the quality of feeds, significantly cutting people's interest in using the application. Too frequently, scammers impersonate popular creators, asking for investments or financial data through DMs from fake accounts. Such content on the application gives it a "Wild West" feeling and undermines communities.

However, some users find the updates overly combative, causing them to ban and censor genuine comments and content.

Yet, above all, Instagram aims to enforce its community guidelines and prevent the sharing of misinformation or upsetting content. As a result, it has allowed users to pay for a blue checkmark that verifies their account since 2023. Instagram promotes the content of these Meta Verified accounts more than that of those without the checkmark.

In addition, Mosseri is adding features to keep teenagers safe on the app, stating in his own Instagram post, "This week, I’m sharing an overview of the work we do to keep teens safe on Instagram. We think about this in three buckets: 1/ parental controls to let parents shape their teens’ experience, since they know what their teens need best, 2/ defaults for teens to make sure their experience is safe, and 3/ time spent tools so teens can manage their time in a way that’s intentional."

6. Suggested Posts

Alongside content from people a user follows, Instagram now includes more algorithm-based recommendations. By adding "suggested posts" similar to the content a user typically enjoys to the Feed, Instagram encourages people to discover new, exciting, and relevant content.

7. Original Content

Instagram now promotes original content over reposts to keep Feeds fresh and engaging.

Instagram now promotes original content over reposts to keep Feeds fresh and engaging.
Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, has stressed the benefits of novel content, stating, “People expressing themselves is the heartbeat of Instagram. It’s what makes Instagram work. One of the things I’ve learned from speaking with creators is how important getting credit for their work is to them.”

As a result, when Instagram finds repeated content on the platform or finds a word or watermark, it will only recommend the original post unless it has been significantly changed or is in meme format. Further solidifying this change, Instagram will add the original creator's link to reposted content.

8. Balancing Photo and Video Content

In 2022, Reels was Instagram's golden egg. As a result, they were a great way for creators and brands to reach new audiences and feature on feeds.

However, the heyday of video content on Instagram is over. In a Q&A session, Mosseri stated, “I think we were overfocused on video in 2022 and pushed ranking too far and basically showed too many videos and not enough photos.”

Since then, Instagram has worked to balance the visibility of photos and videos. Mosseri continued, “Things like how often someone likes photos versus videos and how often someone comments on photos versus videos are roughly equal, which is a good sign that things are balanced.”​

What are the 5 main factors of the Instagram algorithm?

Let's consider the factors that affect whether a post shows on a user's feed.


The algorithm predicts how much a user will care about a post based on their past behaviour towards similar content. In addition, it assesses how interested others were in the content and how much they interacted with it through likes, comments, and saves.

The platform considers the number of saves a post has to play a pivotal role in understanding how interesting it is for followers and new audiences. Put simply, saves are an important signal, signifying strong user interest and engagement.

When a user saves a post, it indicates to the algorithm that the content is valuable enough to be revisited or shown to a friend, reflecting a deeper level of engagement than likes or comments alone.

High save rates can enhance a post's ranking, making it more likely to appear on users' feeds and the Explore page. Consequently, producing save-worthy content, such as educational posts, infographics, or tutorials, is a great way for creators and businesses to maximise engagement and reach new audiences.

The Instagram algorithm works this way to ensure that high-quality, relevant content receives the attention it deserves.

Relationship to the Content

Instagram prioritises content from accounts that users frequently interact with through likes, comments, direct messages, and search queries.

It’s important to note that Instagram does not base the relationship on the user's closest friends or family; rather, it is the amount of time a person interacts with an account's content.


Instagram prioritises more recent posts over older ones. It aims to show the latest content, ensuring users see up-to-date posts.


How often a user opens Instagram also impacts the algorithm. Users who check the app more frequently will see a more chronological feed, while less frequent users will see posts that the algorithm believes are most relevant to them.

Users who spend more time on the app will see a broader range of content, while shorter sessions will focus on the most relevant posts.


The number of accounts a user follows affects what they see. If a user follows many accounts, the algorithm has more content to choose from, making it less likely for any single account to be prioritised.

The other way the Instagram algorithm works is by considering the number of followers an account has. While engagement through comments, likes, and shares on a post are the most important signals, accounts with larger followings tend to gain these valuable engagements more quickly. In addition, these established accounts will often have built relationships with their audiences.

Despite this, when the number of followers reaches a much higher level, the engagement rate tends to drop as the creator cannot personally engage with their followers meaningfully anymore.

This is why working with nano or micro-influencers is a great way for brands to reach a large yet engaged audience.

How does Instagram's algorithm classify Story content and Feeds?

Instagram assumes that users want to see the posts and Stories of the people they are closest to. Therefore, the first posts and Stories Instagram shows to a person will always be those from the accounts they follow, ranked by closeness or engagement.

This is particularly important on Stories because content shows up on a person's feed only as a profile picture. Thus, if the user isn't interested in that person's content, they are unlikely to click on the story. This is contrary to other parts of the app where the content takes the lead rather than the account name.

To rank a Story, Instagram’s algorithm will rely on tons of data – called “signals” by the platform. There are thousands of them, but here are the four main types of signals that predominate, ranked in order of importance:

1. Information about the publication: These signals are based on metrics related to the post (number of likes, comments, recordings, average view rate, engagement rate…) but also on other statistics related to the publication environment (date and time of the publication, video duration, geolocation…).
2. Information about the author of the post: These signals are directly linked to the user's relationship with the account that published the content (frequency and number of interactions, message history, etc.).
3. Past user activity: These signals help Instagram determine whether or not a user will like a piece of content based on their interaction history with similar content. You can boost engagement by using the question sticker and encouraging people to interact with your Story.
4. User interaction history with the post author: These signals allow the algorithm to better understand the user’s interest in the content posted by a specific account (comment history, likes, check-ins).

Based on these signals, the Instagram algorithm for News Feed and Stories will try to guess which posts are most likely to provoke user interaction. It prioritises the likelihood of the user doing one of the following 5 interactions:

1. Watch the publication for several seconds
2. Save the publication as a favourite
3. Comment on the publication
4. Put a “like” on it
5. Click on the profile

How does Instagram's algorithm sort Reels?

Reels are intended to entertain the user, regardless of closeness. As a result, the majority of the content does not come from accounts that the user will follow. To rank them, the algorithm focuses specifically on signals related to an individual’s appreciation of the video.

In 2024, every time a user watches a Reel, it adds to the view count. In the past, only the first view counted, while the following views were ignored.

The main signals used by the Reels algorithm are:

  1. User activity: These signals analyse the user’s behaviour towards Reels that they have recently liked, commented or saved.
  2. The user’s interaction history with the author of the Reel: Although most of the content offered is not from accounts the user follows, if they have interacted with that account in the past, the Reel will be particularly highlighted.
  3. Information about the Reel: This data comes strictly from the Reel itself (music chosen, type of content, viewing time, average engagement, popularity, etc.).
  4. Information about the author of the Reel: These signals will be used to highlight a creator who produces content that is pleasing to their audience by judging the popularity and overall engagement that they achieve.

Using these signals, Instagram’s algorithm will make predictions based on factors measuring the likelihood of the user doing one of the following 4 actions:

  1. The user views the Reel in its entirety
  2. The user likes the Reel
  3. User comments on the Reel
  4. The user goes to the page of the music used

How does Instagram's algorithm rank posts on the Explore page?

As with Reels, the Explore tab is intended to introduce people to new content. On this page, Instagram compiles photos and videos that a person should like based on their past behaviour on the app (views, likes, comments, check-ins) rather than content from their closest friends or favourite accounts.

Once the app has found a number of photos to suggest to the user, it ranks them mainly according to 4 types of signals:

  1. Information about the post: These signals are based on how often and how quickly users like, comment on, save, and share the post.
  2. The history of the user’s interactions with the publication's author: Again, it is highly likely that the user has never interacted with the author. If this is the case, the publication will be highlighted even more.
  3. User activity: These signals use metrics of user interaction with certain types of content (likes, saves, comments) and with the Explore tab in general.
  4. Information about the publisher: This data is based on how often other users with similar interests have interacted with the publication's publisher in the past weeks.

How can you get your posts noticed by the Instagram algorithm in 2024?

Understanding how the algorithm decides which content to show is the first step to getting noticed. But what specific actions can you take to increase your visibility on Instagram?

1. Boost reach by publishing fun and interactive content

When creating content, always put the user at the centre of your strategy to create content that resonates with them and makes them interact. Ideally, your posts should be visually pleasing and evoke a strong reaction from the user. When someone sees your post, it should give them a strong emotion (laughter, sadness, or surprise). Alternatively, teach them something valuable that they will want to save and share.

2. Instagram has changed its focus on Reels

Following its tradition of boosting accounts that use new features, Instagram boosted Reels when they first launched. As a result, right after their introduction in 2020, Reels became highly popular on the app. In 2024, however, Reels have taken a backfoot and are no longer more advantageous than photo posts.

3. Instagram algorithm: best time to post for your audience

If you post at times when your followers are on Instagram, you are more likely to have your content featured at the top of their news feed. To give yourself the best chance, you can use tools like ContentCal, Loomly or Agorapulse to identify the best days and times to post based on your followers’ habits.

4. Promote your latest posts on Stories

To encourage accounts to use advertising and to avoid overloading users’ news feeds, Instagram’s algorithm does not display your content to all your followers. On average, a post is only shown to a maximum of 60% of followers. To overcome this problem, it is essential to inform your subscribers of the release of your latest video by promoting it as a Story.

5. Beat the Instagram algorithm by encouraging interactions

The Instagram algorithm evaluates the quality of your posts through user feedback on your content. Therefore, the more interactions (shares, saves, comments, likes) you have on your posts, the more Instagram will highlight them so that they are discovered by other users. To do this, it is necessary to create content that encourages interaction. In your Stories, use the “poll” or “comment” features to generate interaction and let the algorithm know that your content is appreciated by your audience. In your posts and Reels, include questions in the description to drive more comments, as well as calls to action to get them to save and like your post. Using relevant hashtags

6. Respect Guidelines

Respecting community guidelines is crucial for maintaining a positive presence on Instagram and avoiding being flagged as spam. Ensuring that all content adheres to Instagram's guidelines helps create a safe and respectful environment. These guidelines include prohibitions against hate speech, violence, nudity, and other inappropriate content. Adhering to these rules not only protects your account from being penalized or banned but also promotes a positive community atmosphere where users can engage safely.

Additionally, it's important to avoid behaviours that can be perceived as spam. This includes repetitive, irrelevant, or excessive posting, mass following or unfollowing, excessive liking, and repetitive comments. Such activities can trigger Instagram's spam detection mechanisms and result in your account being flagged or even temporarily suspended. By posting meaningful content and engaging authentically with your audience, you ensure that your account remains in good standing and continues to grow organically. Respecting these guidelines helps maintain the integrity of your account and fosters a healthier Instagram community.

Instagram Marketing - Using Instagram for Brands

Understanding the Instagram algorithm is key for businesses looking to market on the platform. After all, the algorithm determines the visibility of your content, which directly affects its impact. By understanding the algorithm’s priorities, you boost your chances of being seen by a larger and more targeted audience.

Pro tip: Use this information to choose influencers who push your content to the first place on the feeds of your target audiences.

Key Engagement Metrics

The Instagram algorithm prioritises posts with high engagement. These interactions signal to the algorithm that your content is valuable and worth promoting to a wider audience. Therefore, it's essential to collaborate with an influencer who has high engagement rates. These also show the creator's relationship with their audience.

In truth, these metrics can be difficult to attain. Using a platform like Kolsquare allows you to assess an influencer's reach and engagement. All you have to do is quickly search through the database to receive a list of compatible creators immediately. From there, understand their audience, content, and engagement rates.

Once you are ready to launch your campaign, the Kolsquare platform acts like a hub, centralising your influencer communications in one place and providing regular reviews that help you improve your campaigns.

Book in for a Kolsquare demo today, free of charge.

Content Recency and Frequency

Recency is another critical factor in the algorithm. Instagram tends to prioritise newer posts, ensuring that users see the latest content. Regular posting can keep your content fresh and more likely to be shown in users' feeds. However, balance is key; posting too frequently can overwhelm your audience, while posting too infrequently can cause your content to be overlooked​.

As a result, the most effective influencer marketing involves collaborating with an influencer long term rather than short term, even though these options are lower risk.

Balancing Content Types

In recent updates, Instagram has aimed to balance the visibility of different content types, including photos and videos. This shift means that incorporating a mix of photos, videos, and other formats like carousels can help maintain consistent engagement and visibility.

Brands' social media managers should use relevant hashtags when posting to boost views and always mark posts with #ad, etc, to keep people engaged.

About Kolsquare

Kolsquare is Europe’s leading Influencer Marketing platform, a data-driven solution that allows brands to scale their KOL Marketing strategies and implement authentic partnerships with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). Kolsquare’s technology enables marketing professionals to easily identify the best Content Creators profiles by filtering their content and audience, and to build and manage their campaigns from A to Z, including measuring results and benchmarking performance against competitors. Kolsquare has built the largest community of influencer marketing experts in the world, and offers hundreds of customers (Coca-Cola, Netflix, Sony Music, Publicis, Sézane, Sephora, El Corte Inglés, Lacoste, …) the latest Big Data, AI and Machine Learning technologies to drive inspiring partnerships, tapping into an exhaustive network covering 100% of  KOLs with more than 5,000 followers in 180 countries on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As a Benefit Company, Kolsquare has been pioneering Responsible Influence by championing transparency, ethical practices, and meaningful collaborations to inspire change.

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