Understanding Instagram Algorithm to Maximizing Your Reach

17 September 2023
19 mins read
Share this Article
facebook ncse instagram ncse twitter ncse twitter ncse linkedin ncse
Table of Content
understanding instagram algorithm

As we dive into the pool of social media dynamics, you might find yourself wondering, 'how does Instagram's algorithm work?' If that's your query, sit tight because you've landed in the right place! This article will help you understand Instagram's algorithm better and offer insights on maximizing your reach

Before delving into the mechanics of the Instagram algorithm, it's essential to understand why it matters. The Instagram algorithm decides the posts you see in your feed and the order they appear in. With over a billion monthly active users on Instagram, the competition to get your content noticed is fierce. Hence, figuring out the Instagram algorithm can give your content the push it needs to get the attention it deserves, helping your brand stand out in a crowded social space. Here, we work to help you navigate this space more effectively. 

"Mastering the Instagram Algorithm is not rocket science, but it does require a strategic and thoughtful approach."

Also, remember that Instagram's primary goal is to keep users engaged on the platform for as long as possible. Your content strategy, therefore, must pivot around this goal. Let's dive into how the Instagram algorithm works and how you can tailor your content to fit within its requirements.

Introduction: Decoding the Instagram Algorithm

You’ve probably heard whispers about the omnipotent Instagram algorithm – the mysterious governing force behind the content that lands in our feeds. You may have even found your way here because you’re eager to decode this social media enigma. Well, my friend, you couldn't have dropped by at a better time! We're diving deep into the Instagram algorithm to help you understand its mechanisms and maximize your reach.

But what exactly is this algorithm? In simple terms, it’s the system Instagram uses to decide what content to show you and when. It’s designed to predict what content you'll like the most, ensuring that the content you care about appears at the top of your feed. However, understanding the Instagram algorithm is not as straightforward as it seems. You see, Instagram constantly fine-tunes this algorithm based on user behavior, making it a constantly evolving entity. 

In this piece, we'll dissect the Instagram feed, discuss factors that affect the Instagram Algorithm, zero in on the best times to post, and underscore the importance of quality content. By the time you're done reading this, you'll not only have a solid grasp of the algorithm but also some valuable insight on how to use it to your brand's advantage. So, are you ready to begin this enlightening journey? 

If you think this is a lot to take in, don't worry. We offer a handy tool on our website that can help you master the Instagram algorithm and bolster your social media game. Buckle up, folks, as we demystify this powerful Instagram mechanism. Shall we dive in? 

Understanding the Instagram Feed: How Does It Work?

Let's start off by debunking one of the most common misconceptions about Instagram's feed: it's not just about the chronological order of posts. So, how does Instagram decide what to show you first? It all boils down to something called 'ranking signals'. These are specific factors that tell Instagram what you, as a user, enjoy seeing. 

The Role of Ranking Signals 

There are three primary signals that Instagram's algorithm focuses on: 

  1. Interest: Instagram predicts what is relevant to you by analyzing past behavior on similar content.
  2. Recency: More recent posts are given priority, assisting you to keep abreast of trending topics and timely posts.
  3. Relationship: The posts from people you interact with the most, such as likes, comments, and shares are considered.

These three signals are the cornerstone of how the Instagram feed works. They have a significant influence on what posts appear on your feed when you log into your Instagram account. 

The Impact of User Interaction 

User interactions play an essential role in the Instagram algorithm too. So, if you regularly interact with a person's posts, the algorithm considers that you have a close relationship with that person, even if you don't follow them. That is why you often see posts even from people you aren't following on your Explore page. 

Understanding how the Instagram feed operates can help you increase your visibility on the platform. It gives you a clearer picture of how to align your posts with what Instagram values most, leading to expanded reach and higher engagements. Check out further info on this topic on our resource platform at NCSE.

Factors Affecting Instagram Algorithm

You might be wondering by now, what exactly are the various elements that affect the Instagram algorithm? Well, there are several factors to consider, and understanding these can significantly help in maximizing your reach on Instagram. So, let’s delve right into it. 


The main crux of the Instagram algorithm is gauging the interest of a user. This means that Instagram is keenly observing and learning from your activities on the platform. The kind of posts you engage with, the people you follow, the hashtags you use: all these form a pattern that the algorithm uses to determine what you might be interested in and hence should be shown. 


Instagram’s algorithm also assesses the relationships between users. If you often interact with a certain user – by sharing their posts, commenting on their photos, or even tagging them– Instagram considers this a sign of a close relationship and gives higher priority to their posts in your feed. 


Even though Instagram left its chronological order behind, recency is still a factor in its algorithm. In simpler words, posts that are recent will generally be prioritized over older ones. This is why timing your content, as we'll discuss later in this article, can be an important factor for visibility. 


How often you open Instagram also affects your feed. If you're a frequent user, your feed will be more chronological because Instagram tries to show you the best posts since your last visit. If you check Instagram less often, your feed will be sorted more by what the algorithm thinks you'll like, rather than recency. 


The longer you spend time on Instagram, the more content it needs to show you. If you tend to have shorter sessions, you're more likely to see only the top posts from your feed. If your sessions are longer, Instagram digs deeper into its catalogue. 

Navigating these factors and understanding the workings of the Instagram algorithm better is a sure shot way to maximizing your reach on the platform and effectively marketing your brand. Want more help figuring out the science behind Social Media Algorithms? Check out our useful tools and resources at NCSE for more insights. 

Timing is Everything: Best Times to Post on Instagram

Before diving into the heart of it, did you know that the time you post content on Instagram greatly affects your reach and engagement? Yes, timing is indeed everything when it comes to maximizing your Instagram reach. Instagram’s algorithm prefers posts that have recently been shared. So, no matter how visually stunning your post is, if you're not posting at the right time, you are most likely to miss out on a significant amount of engagement. 

When are Users Most Active? 

Figuring out when your followers are most active is a crucial starting point. During these active hours, your posts are more likely to be seen and liked by your audience. Conversely, posting during less active hours will not bring the desired results as the posts might get buried under the more recent and thus higher-ranked content. 

Think Globally 

If you have a follower base that is spread out across multiple time zones, it gets a bit tricky. In this case, it's good to aim for the overlapping time frames where most of your audience will be awake and actively scrolling their Instagram feeds. You can make use of Instagram Insights, a native analytics tool, to decode when a majority of your followers are online. 

Test and Learn 

Like all social media algorithms, the Instagram algorithm is constantly changing. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to experiment with posting times and then monitor the performance. Don’t get attached to any one-time frame. Be observant and tie your posting times to the patterns of your audience's Instagram activity. 

In conclusion, knowing your audience's behavior and aligning your posting timings with their active hours is a smart way to work with the Instagram algorithm. To further polish your Instagram strategy and maximize your reach, consider using advanced analytic tools like the ones provided by NCSE. They offer detailed insights to help you optimize your posting timings and improve your engagement rate.

Quality Content: The Key to Instagram Success

Success on Instagram isn't merely about understanding its algorithm and maximizing your reach. At the heart of it all is 'quality content.' No matter what strategies you employ, they'll likely fall short if your content is subpar. Good quality content is the foundation for not only boosting your visibility but also for building and nurturing your audience engagement. It is on this pillar that the other aspects of the algorithm can truly shine. 

What is Quality Content? 

Quality content is subjective, yet it has certain universal attributes. Essentially, quality content is engaging, original, relevant to your audience, and offers value. Often, these posts are high-resolution, aesthetically pleasing images or videos paired with compelling captions. They spark interaction and demand attention. Be it a story behind the creation of your product, an educational post about your niche, or simply a visually appealing post that's on-brand, it adds something to the user's experience. 

Maintaining a Consistent Aesthetic 

Instagram is a highly visual platform. Maintaining a consistent theme or aesthetic for your posts is crucial. This isn't only about using the same filter for every picture. It's about crafting a visually cohesive feed that aligns with your brand's image, mission, and story. When a user stumbles upon your profile, they should be able to get a sense of who you are and what you represent from a quick glance. 

Creating Engaging Captions 

While the focus is often on the images, good captions shouldn't be overlooked. A compelling caption can elevate the impact of your post. It captivates the audience, stimulates interaction, and adds depth to your post. Questions, calls-to-action, and storytelling are a few ways to create engaging captions. 

Optimizing for Engagement 

When creating your content, strive for both likes and engagement. Comments, saves, shares, and even time spent viewing your post affect your post's visibility. Encourage these engagements organically through your content. For instance, creating content that prompts users to tag their friends or share on their own stories enhances your visibility and reach. 

Instagram can be a robust platform for brand storytelling, audience engagement, and visibility. Understanding the algorithm is part of it, but investing time and effort in good quality content is key. When you nail this component, you'd have set a solid base for your Instagram success. Remember, you can also diversify your efforts with resources like our tool over at https://app.ncse.info to maximize your reach.

Category : Instagram
Let's Get in touch

Boost your Instagram

Our Feature

Instagram Automation tools can help you reach a larger audience and attract new followers.