An Insight into Instagram’s Algorithm for 2021

8 min readJan 7, 2021


By Paul Harrison

Ever missed a post when it was posted and found it sometime later when you are scrolling through a person’s profile? Well, it’s Instagram algorithm’s antics.

As the saying goes, “Keep your friends close and enemies closer”, Instagram’s algorithm works the other way round. Instagram’s algorithm functions to keep the people you are in touch with a lot, closer than the ones you barely talk to. Hence, the posts and stories of friends with whom you are in constant communication on Instagram appear first, no matter when it was posted.

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

A few years ago, Instagram shifted from reverse-chronologically arranging posts for you to view, to bringing the posts of your close friends on Instagram first. This prioritization done by Instagram is to serve you, with profiles of friends, families, brands and businesses you engage a lot in the first place. This prioritization is based upon your interactions with these accounts.

Prioritization of presenting content to be viewed by you is completely done by assessing the frequency of interactions with other accounts. This assessment and execution happen through machine learning that way the pattern of assembling posts is completely evolving.

Hobo.Video gives you an insight into the functioning of Instagram’s algorithm for the year 2021.

Why Algorithm?

An announcement in 2016 by Instagram saying it would prioritize “moments its users would care about”, marked the advent of algorithmic functioning of Instagram’s feed.

Instagram did away with reverse-chronologically assembling the feed by introducing an algorithm-based approach to line the posts of the accounts you follow.

Few years down the line, users got apprehensive about missing certain posts and Instagram clarified these apprehensions by a series of tweets in the year 2019.

Image source Twitter

In response to those questions, Instagram made it clear that the algorithm does not in any way hide posts from users.

Image source Twitter

Since this interaction in 2019, there have not been major changes in Instagram’s algorithm. Though, it still seems to be mysterious because of users and brands learning how to make the best of Instagram and its algorithm.

After following the evolution of Instagram algorithm for a while, it is evident that no matter how the algorithm evolves, audience reach and growth in the number of followers can be achieved by rigorously following some fail-proof practices.

To attain maximum engagement with your content despite the algorithm. Influencers must know how the algorithm works.

Three signals picked up by the algorithm determine the priority of posts. Time of posting, the relationship between the accounts and similar interests.

  • Time of posting

Each user follows more than 1000 accounts and every account posting daily it is difficult for your posts to be identified amidst a thousand other posts.

Thus, keeping a tab on the insights provided by Instagram and posting when most of your audience is online. Despite discontinuing reverse chronologically assembling the feed, even in 2021, the most recently published post gets pushed to the top. Regardless, of your engagement with the profile.

Influencers, brands and businesses must know when their audience is most online to achieve maximum reach in the first few minutes of posting.

  • Relationship between the accounts

This signal is picked upon taking the frequency of DM exchanges, mentioning each other in comments and stories and tagging each other in posts. Doing all of the above is a repercussion of an effort of engaging with the audience who are the backbone of an influencer. Scenarios and practices like these obviously highlight the importance of good and engaging content and consider your audience as a part of you.

  • Similar Interests

People with an interest in your niche and the content you produce, may initially follow other pages from your niche and regularly conduct searches on Instagram about their interests to discover pages and posts using keywords

Image source Instagram

and hashtags in some cases.

Image source Instagram

The feed’s algorithm brings first the content about profiles you follow and engage a lot with, and, Explore feed’s algorithm, puts together content of the kind you enjoy a lot. This is why you keep coming across posts from a specific niche on the explore feed and it can be easily changed if you shift from spending a lot of time on one type of content to another.

Therefore, it is not the algorithm that decides what to bring you but the user’s engagement pattern with content that influences the algorithm.

Algorithm for Reels and IGTV

The algorithm for Reels and IGTV does not differ much from Instagram feed and Explore feed. Both the content is brought to you by the algorithm just like how it works with the feed.

To attract more viewers towards your IGTV content make sure to select the option to post a preview of your IGTV, this makes a preview of IGTV video appear on your followers’ feed and Reels have to be shared to your feed and works with the same algorithm as other posts for better discoverability using a string of well-chosen hashtags helps.

To take on the algorithm and use it to your advantage follow the ideas compiled by Hobo.Video.

  1. Producing visually striking content

Instagram, having started as a photo-sharing platform initially; is still being a go-to place to catch up on interesting pictures. Picture sharing is the USP that made Instagram stand out from a plethora of other platforms.

Image source Unsplash

With the growing number of influencers on Instagram and brands are in dire need of good pictures to attract more followers.

It takes more than just a picture for a follower of yours to stop scrolling, read the caption and hit “Like”.

Seeking the help of Instagram apps to enhance the quality of the pictures you have produced. Check out the list of Apps you can use to give your content a professional touch.

2. Call-to-action in caption and Comments

Though the description space below a post is primarily used for captions and long descriptions. They can also be a good space to insert a call-to-action text for your followers.

Image source Instagram

It could be as simple as asking your followers to leave their opinion as comments below. The more the engagement to your profile the more it will appear in others’ feeds.

3. Use stickers to increase audience engagement

Stickers are the best tool to encourage interactions with your audience. The easy utilization of stickers is what makes it fun to use.

Apart from regular stickers, there are some other stickers in Instagram like Q&A, Polls and emoji which require a response from others.

Image source Google Images

Polls can be conducted with your audience in between two options on your stories. The usage of Poll stickers on your stories leaves an impression on your followers’ mind that their opinions matter to you too. This can be a nice way of breaking the invisible barrier between the Influencer and followers.

Conducting Q&A sessions often through stories can keep your audience engaged and shows your authentic involvement with your followers, which is what Instagram Algorithm is looking for primarily in accounts.

4. Exploit all the feature Instagram has to offer to the fullest

From Instagram Insights, different filters for pictures to Reels, make the best of every feature that Instagram offers. Posting content and managing strategies as an influencer, everything can be done for free without spending money.

Image source Instagram

Instagram is constantly striving to give its influencers the best user experience by being the one-stop application for everything.

5. Constantly post stories

Stories can come to save the day when you have no content to post on your feed. It can either be used as a tool to promote posts of others concerning you or engaging in Q&A sessions with your followers.

With the usage of stories, you are constantly being noticed by your audience. So, if you have a line up of posts to publish it or nothing to post for the next couple of days, any day is a good day to resort to stories.

6. Go on live regularly

Take a break from producing planned, polished and professional-looking content and hold live sessions with your audience. With Instagram automatically pushing accounts having a live session to the first of the IG story line-up section and giving an exclusive “Live” badge to the account it will not be hard for your followers to know you are on a live session.

Image source Google

7. Take time to return your DMs

As Liking and commenting on your posts, DM’s are also considered when picking up signals for algorithms. Apart from algorithms, it would also leave a good impression on your followers about the page.

Image source Google

If you are hounded by hundreds of messages daily try the “Quick reply” feature on Instagram. Most common queries can be answered at the touch of a button. To insert quick replies you can save pre-written texts and have them saved with keywords. These messages can be easily looked up typing those keywords.

Once you get an insight into how Instagram works with its algorithm, it becomes evident that the posts which follow certain measures to perform well, do well inherently. It is imperative to understand that sticking onto the fundamentals like providing authentic and quality content, engaging with the audience through live Q & A sessions from time to time, and choosing the right hashtags, etc, plays an important role in expanding your follower base.




We are on a mission to provide revenue streams to influencers via making an ecosystem of video commerce driven by localised community of generation Z