Algorithm: Myth or Legend?

by | Feb 15, 2020 | Social Media

The word “algorithm” gets thrown around all the time when it comes to social media, best practices, and engagement.  People talk as if it is something that is out to get you, something that you need to trick in order to work in your favour.  But few people seem to know what it is or how it works. 

Every platform has an algorithm. We’re going to dive into the Instagram algorithm for you and break it down. It’s not as scary and technical as you may think! 

Instagram Algorithm Explained 

In 2018 Instagram explained how the algorithm chooses what to show you and it is based on three main factors: 

  • Interest: They can determine your interest based on past interactions on the platform, what types of posts you typically search out and interact with.    
  • Recency: When the post was shared with more care being shown to the ones that were posted more recently than not. 
  • Relationship: How close you are with the person who posted it.  Based on how often you interact with each other’s posts, how frequently you are tagged in posts together etc. 

These three main factors then have three sub factors that are in the algorithm as well. These are: 

  • Frequency: How often you open Instagram as they will try to show you the best content for you since you opened it last. 
  • Following size: The more followers you have the more that the algorithm has to pull from so you may see posts from specific people less often. 
  • Usage: The longer you spend on the platform the deeper it will be pulling to be providing you with fresh new content. 

We often see big statements coming out where people are panicking about new changes to the algorithm.  The truth is simply that it is based on machine learning and therefore is continually adapting and changing.  New trends and data that it absorbs causes it to continually change. It’s not that Instagram is out to mess with us by randomly making changes. They learn from individual users and adapt to our behaviours.  


Instagram Algorithm Myth Busters 

Let’s talk about some of the myths that are floating around. There are all kinds, but these are the top 5 we come across. 

Instagram punishes some accounts by shadowbanning them—false!  If you keep scrolling eventually you will see it all, but if you follow a large amount of accounts it will take you ages to get through them all 

Instagram gives higher priority to those who use video/ stories—false!  Photos and videos are equal when it comes to distribution. 

All interactions count—false! The algorithm can tell when you have a bot liking and commenting for you and those get flagged and definitely don’t count towards upping your visibility 

Personal Accounts get more feed presence—false! Instagram doesn’t give extra feed presence to personal accounts or business accounts, so switching won’t help your reach.   

Comments must be a certain length to count as engagement—false! Whether or not you leave a few words or a few sentences, Instagram will reward your comment as engagement.

The algorithm doesn’t need to be a big mystical beast that must be tamed.  It is just something to be aware of and can very easily be used to your advantage.  Use the platform the way it was meant to be used and you will be rewarded.  Our rules that we work by: 1. Don’t be spammy,  2. Be sure to create the type of content that people will be liking, sharing, commenting on, and 3. If you expect people to engage on your posts, you better spend the time engaging on other people’s posts! 

Wanna connect on Instagram?? Follow us at

PS Love the photo in our cover image?? It’s just one of the many perks of being a Hustle + Flow member! We provide our members with custom images that they can use on their social media and any marketing material they want! All images are the work of the wonderful Shannon Bellisle

Like what you see? Let's talk!

4 + 8 =