How To Navigate Instagram's Algorithm and Increase Follower Base

Have you thought about why some businesses get more views and likes on their social media posts than others, even if they feature similar content? Instagram decides which posts will be seen on users’ news feeds based on an algorithm. While it is regularly being refined, the core mechanic of the algorithm remains “reader-friendly”, prioritizing content it deems will keep users on the platform for as long as possible. Here is our ultimate walkthrough and extra tips to help you gain a better understanding of Instagram’s algorithm and plan your Instagram strategy accordingly!

The Instagram algorithm currently ranks a post on six attributes, the top three being:

#1. Interest

Users’ feeds are made up of behavioural traits on Instagram. Every time they view, like, comment, or share a post, the algorithm will optimize what should come next. The more a user engages with certain categories, the greater likelihood of them seeing similar content. For example, if users like a lot of teeth whitening tips and products, they will likely see more content related to cosmetic dentistry.

As a brand, it is important to share content that is truly and consistently appealing to your audience. Make sure that you are not only posting often but also with relevant and personable content. For instance, if you manage a healthcare practice account, it may not be suitable for you to post driving-related content. The Instagram algorithm will start to recommend your feed to relevant users as you create more posts over time.


#2. Relationship

For the most part, the people or accounts we interact with the most on Instagram, are the ones we truly care about, for example, a family member, friends, or brands we follow. The algorithm tracks this through our messages, follows and other ways in which we engage with the content.

As a brand, it is impossible to be best friends with every follower. However, to maximize reach, you can interact with your followers by replying to comments or messages in your inbox so that they feel like they are able to directly connect with you, and are a valuable resource to you. It is also a good idea to repost content featuring your product or services that are being shared by your followers, to your feed as a “feature”.

#3. Timeliness

Users always like to see the most recent updates so newer posts will rank higher on their news feed.

The important question then is, when is the best time to post? In the morning, before people start work? A late-night post, when people are relaxing after a long day of work? As a business, it all depends on your target audience. For example, where are your target audience mostly located? When do they generally browse on Instagram? You can view the engagement data on your Instagram feed to learn more about your targeted demographic and adjust your strategy..

Three more attributes that the Instagram algorithm uses to decide a match are dependent on user behavior. They are: the frequency of login times per day, how long each session lasts, and the number of accounts users follow.

Even though businesses wouldn't be able to influence the above factors, you can use them as a benchmark to optimize when to post your content.

3 Tips to increase awareness about your business and your product/service offerings

#1. Use new features - “Reels”

Instagram has launched new features over the years. The “Reels”’ function, released in 2021 is one of the most recent and striking. To compete for market share with Tik Tok, one of the most popular short video platforms, Reels is the built-in short video upload feature on Instagram.

In comparison to images and text, videos are definitely more visually engaging. More than 70% of marketers claim that videos generate more conversions than other content. To promote this new feature, Instagram will also help users who post to Reels, by directing more traffic to  “Reels content” by recommending it to new users.


Instagram is currently promoting more Reels content, so it may be worth your while as a brand to take advantage of this format. For example, post educational videos about your practice, or casual stories about your team to be more personable to users. 

However, if you don’t feel comfortable filming just yet, there is another new feature called “Guides”. It allows users to curate content to recommend places, posts, and products. You could take the opportunity to either repromote your older posts, or repurpose the content from your website to be directly featured on Instagram. As Instagram is favouring posts that use these new features, you can take advantage of them to curate content with an aim to maximize engagement and increase views.

#2. Optimize your profile

Besides posting relevant content, there is another way to gain more visibility - through your Instagram business/page profile section. It is one of the most underutilized methods by businesses, to boost their Instagram search ranking. Here is a list of what you can do to optimize your profile:

  • Add in keywords that your users will search for, so that next time they search for product/service categories related to your business, your account would rank higher than others that are less optimized.

  • Make your bio personable to make a great first impression

  • Add in a “link tree” that links to your official website to lead traffic (“link tree” is a simple tool that circumvents the issue of only being able to put one link in your Instagram bio)

  • Don’t be too textual in your description of your business - keep your bio concise and straightforward 

#3. Create more CTA opportunities

CTA, which stands for Call To Action, is a great method to increase user engagement on social media. One of the many viable functions that Instagram has is the “Story” feature. It is the 10-second video function that appears on the top of the page when a user first opens Instagram. The Story content disappears after 24 hours, therefore, many users utilize the function as a more casual section to promote their posts, or share more personable content. Many eCommerce businesses use this as an opportunity to share various features of their product. As a dental or healthcare practice, you could try uploading a usual day in the office or tell users more about your services such as teeth whitening or sports-guards. 

By adding a poll or a “yes or no” question to get your users to engage with you, you can not only be more involved with your customers, but  also get their honest reviews and dedicated time spent interacting with your page/service offerings. Higher engagement, thus achieved, will get recognized by the algorithm in return for more exposure.

There are more CTA opportunities in addition to the “Story Poll” function. One of them being tagging products on a post so users can click to learn more. Practices can use this as a way to showcase their services. Businesses can also add the text "link in bio" to encourage users to visit their website or specific landing pages. 

With a lot of businesses competing for users' attention in the dynamic world of Instagram, it is important to keep sharing relevant content regularly and engaging with users in the most effective way while keeping what we know about the algorithm in mind.

Since the Instagram algorithm works on the basis of content characteristics and user behavior, it is crucial to create content that is truly meaningful and valuable to your audience. The sum total of your target audience’s Instagram behavior is what determines the reach of your Instagram posts and the success of your overall Instagram strategy.

With the many options that are available to post your content on Instagram, including Instagram Story, Instagram Reels and many more to come, the combination of right strategies and content creation will help your business and it's services stand out on Instagram.

Reach out to an UpOnline Representative for more information on how to effectively manage your business's presence on Instagram!!