This is how the Instagram algorithm 2021 works, learn beating the instagram algorithm with a free instagram course and a guide.
Instagram algorithm 2021- learn beating instagram algorithm 2021

Instagram Algorithm 2021

This is how the Instagram algorithm 2021 works ! If I can decode that, I will be the next 6 figure boss. 

How the Instagram algorithm works is the question that has been asked most in the Instagram community, since Instagram moved its chronological feed.

In this Blog post , I am going to share how the Instagram algorithm works for home feed, stories, IGTV and Reels( the newborn kid )


This information is how I have helped several brands build, scale and grow their Instagram organically and sell courses, find clients and build influence, etc.

Let’s begin.

Why there is a need for Algorithm?

The fact is Instagram has 855 million users as of 2021 January, when I am writing this post. 500 million are actively posting.

India is the second largest to America having 120 million active users.

instagram usage by country

Consider yourself, How many Instagram accounts do you follow ? Likewise, a typical Instagram user is following a hundred of accounts and it’s the job of algorithms to sort, qualify and show the most relevant ones to you.

The more a user uses Instagram , higher is the chance for Instagram to show its ads and get impressions. Ultimately, it can make revenue from ads. This year Instagram has earned 20 billion in ad revenue which is more than a quarter of Facebook’s.

As the revenue is higher than its parent company Facebook, Instagram has invested heavily on an algorithm, so it shows you the most relevant post. 

The main Job of an algorithm is to show the best and most relevant post to you. 

Now the question comes, how does Instagram know what I like ? 

With 1 billion active users, Instagram algorithm studies and understands what you like based on how you use the app and algorithm shows you the best based on your activity.

  • If you engage with an account more, you are more likely to get more posts from that account. 
  • Based on the user’s interest, it analyses and shows the best content 
  • Based on the content: if a content is viral, Instagram promotes and shows it to more people.

There are a lot of factors like this to consider. There are other variables added now and then.

how instagram identifies your family and friends

Remember: Algorithms keep changing. It will change the way it worked a week ago.  It worked the other way in 2020 and now it’s working differently in 2021.  But without worrying too much and learning too much about algorithms, one can agree that Instagram’s goal is to make sure it gives the best user experience for a user.

With that said , we can agree that by improving the content quality, engagement etc , the algorithm will naturally push the content and therefore an account grows organically.

Tips : 

  1. Never consider buying followers, this won’t help you grow initially. 
  2. You need active followers – find an active community in your niche and follow others and engage with their post

Quick tips: Learn to create seamless Instagram carousels in canva-Click here


How the Instagram algorithm works in 2021?:

Instagram’s business model won’t change. It will keep its goal of keeping its user active for a long time , the algorithm adapts various ways to reach the same goal.

What happens when you submit a post ? How does it go viral ? Let’s explore that in stages. 

how the instagram algorithm works

There are simple stages that you need to understand and at each stage the algorithm analyses your post’s  quality, engagement ,time spent on viewing etc.

Let me show you each step now

Stage 1 : The content quality – placing an engagement score for your content.

As you are reading this post now , consider that you have published a post on Instagram ( I know we are multi- rashers). As soon as you publish a post, the algorithm will show your post to 10% of your followers. 

The algorithm will study how the people are reacting to the post, reacting in the sense I say the number of likes, comments, shares and saves. 

After studying how these users interact with your post, the algorithm will place an engagement score. 

This score keeps changing, as your post is seen by more people.

Without the initial interaction from a small percentage of your followers, however good it may, it is hard to reach the explore page. When your post reaches the explore page, they can show it to other people.

The below image shows you exactly how you can calculate the instagram engagement formula for your posts. you can choose any one of the preferred method.

Instagram Engagement Rate Formulas

Tips for cracking stage 1:

  1. Never consider buying followers, this won’t help you grow initially. 
  2. You need active followers – find an active community in your niche and follow others and engage with their post.

Stage 2 : The creator quality – A quality score for your account

Instagram places a quality score for your account based on the tags, mentions and profile visits you get.  This is where the most accounts fail.  The quality score is the representation of how important your account is for Instagram.

When you create quality content, and you are In a community, you will get natural authority.

Tips for cracking stage 2:

  1. Start sharing useful information and never ever plagiarise a content. 
  2. Building and growing an active community is key for a high Instagram profile.
  3. Prefer sticking with a Niche.

Stage 3: Reaching the Hashtags page

With the above said once your post has a good engagement score. Say, for example, most people liked your post and left few comments, it will be shown to people who are following a particular hashtags. 

One of your followers’ friend is following a hashtag- #bloggingtips, your post will be shown to them. When you interact more there on the hashtag page, it reaches the explore page. 

That is how a post goes viral.

When you have a perfect hashtag strategy it is more easy to rank your posts.

The idea is to get your post ranked high on hashtags so that people view and visit your profile from there

Stage 4 : Reaching Explore page:

The Explore page is the Entry pass to sky rocket your post engagement. The explore page curates the user’s interest and helps them find the content they are most likely to enjoy. 

If you are aiming for growth, then hitting the explore page is the minimum hanging fruit.

Remember: You need at least 1000+ followers to hit the explore page. 

Having an idea about how the post goes viral, lets see what are the factors Instagram considers for ranking a post.

Website Launch

3 Factors Instagram algorithm decides what you see on the feed


You have the idea that Instagram’s goal is to make the user spend more time on the app. So it prioritizes the post from the account you interact more. 

You may follow 100’s of accounts, but you will always see your best friend’s latest post first. 

Instagram wants to make sure it shows the posts from your friend’s and family.The real question comes, how Instagram identifies your friend’s and family?

The algorithm decides this with  your history of interactions 

-People whose content you liked

-People who direct message you 

-people you search in the search bar

-people you know in actual life ( from Facebook accounts you follow)

So, to build raving fans, you need to interact with your followers. You need to build a strong relationship with them. Higher is your interaction, higher is the chance of Instagram showing your posts to them. 

Copy of Instagram algorithm 2021

Tips on building relationship with your followers:

  1. Use stories that fuel the interaction with your followers. You can create engaging stories to do this. 
  2. You can send Dm’s and voice notes to your followers. You can help them clarify their doubts and have a casual conversation with them. 
  3. Use captions that drive more attention.


The content you see on Instagram is pure of your interest. Instagram will base the order of photos and videos shown on your post on the prediction that you might like.

The algorithm ranks the content based on your past interactions say- like, follow, save and comment. 

So, if you like motivational posts on Instagram, then you will see more motivational posts based on the predictions you like them. 

If you are watching more tutorial videos on logos or you are following accounts that are like “Graphic design”, then you will see more of them. 


Instagram shows only the most relevant and recent content. The algorithm refreshes the feed with the new content it thinks you will like. 

If you post when most of your followers are active, you can catch 10% of people’s attention.

Even if you post on time,

Based on 

  • Frequency of use by the user. If a user is not so active on Instagram, then the app shows only the fresh content at the moment. 
  • The number of followers a user has : if a user is following more than 1000s of accounts, then they will never catch up all the posts from all their followers. 
  • The usage of a user : if a user is logging in very barely, they will get a dosage of posts. The more the user scrolls, higher is the chance the user gets more content.

So you need not to blame yourself if your followers are not much active on Instagram. 

Dont forget to pin this 
Instagram algorithm 2021 infographic

How to reach the explore page ?

If you want to win with minimum effort, then explore page is where you need to concentrate.  But not that simple or easy to reach the explore page and you need a minimum of 1000 followers for that. 

How Instagram built Explore page?

Explore page is built based on the interest of a user. Instagram algorithm based on the user’s intent will push the most relevant content from their followers and follower’s friends.

Simply to say, 

  • How often you get tagged and how many mentions you get 
  • What keywords it relates to your page
  • How many saves you get for a post
  • How many people followed you based on a post 
  • Your suggested accounts

2 factors that help your content to rank on the explore page :

Well, we all know that  “content is the king” but not all the content is the king, to make it a king, your content needs to be trustworthy. It needs to educate the user, share them what they need, and address some useful things they need

1.Quality score for your content :

When you create a shareable content, may it be a carousel post, IGTV video or reels…the content quality score relies on how people react to it. 

When you have categorised or posting on a specific niche, it is easy for the algorithm to sort your content. 

For example, Instead of creating various content with whatever you know, when you specialise in a particular niche and address your audience doubts/queries and help them learn something, it is what a quality content is.

2.The content category

“You can’t have a shop that has everything” – likewise you might be multi-talented but you can share everything with your followers. Your strength lies in your uniqueness. So everyone suggests to niche down. 

This is because when you curate your content for a specific audience, it is easy for the algorithm to connect you to the top accounts. 

Your suggested accounts play a significant role in getting visibility for you. 

Most people give little importance to alt text while the algorithm reads the alt text. Algorithm understands the post by reading the hashtags. Next important thing is the caption, whatever you write about the post helps in ranking. 

Using keywords in Instagram :

Instagram is pushing keyword search in its latest update. Which means organic growth will fuel in upcoming days. Make sure you use relevant keywords in alt text, captions, hashtags and in your profile.

How does the Instagram algorithm work for stories?

Instagram created stories from the idea of Snapchat. People are really interested in watching the expiring content. 

This is the place where you can engage with your users. You can let your users DM you, you can mention them, get them featured, take them to your website or make them buy from you using the swipe up feature. 

Instagram stories appear at the top of your feed from the accounts you engage with the most. 

Instagram bases stories on the timeliness. Instagram pushes the recent and most engaging content.

When you watch the stories of an account regularly, it will bump their recent stories to the first of your feed whenever they make a new post. Which means even if you have watched all the stories of the account, the fresh stories will appear in the front row.

When you post stories consistently every day, your account gets a better reach and engagement. You can even schedule your stories using schedulers like later and you can connect more deeply with your audience.

How does the Instagram algorithm work for Videos, IGTv and Reels?

First let’s talk about reels- the newborn kid.

Reels now got a new and separate page. So the reels from your most favourite account will appear in the home feed, reels tab and explore tab.

IGTV and videos : 

It’s purely based on the watch time. The more your users like watching your videos, the higher is the quality score for your content and Instagram pushes the content to explore. So you will get more visibility.  You can share your IGTV preview in your home feed and share its stories for better engagement.


Tips- Beating the Instagram algorithm 2021:

When you build momentum with your existing community, when you can drive the attention of your existing audience, you can surely win the new audience soon. 

If you want to double your organic traffic, then it’s the time you concentrate on driving more attention towards you and your content. 

Now you have an idea how the algorithm works.  It’s time to turn your account into a client driven machine or money-making machine. 

It’s your brain that operates the machine successfully.

Tip No 1: Post consistently

It’s not important to post every day or 3 times a day, but to follow a consistent schedule.  Based on your business, the content you post defines a schedule for your posts. 

If it’s possible, you can show up every day, or you can post 3 days in a week. But you have to follow a schedule and stick to it. That is important. 

Don’t pressure yourself, perseverance is more important than perfection.  When you post every day, it’s like feeding the algorithm every day. Instagram will understand about you and your content. 

This is like a long run. When you push yourself too hard in the start ( like posting 3 times a day) then you can run for a long time. 

Be consistent without burning out yourself.

why to post consisitently on instagram

Tip No 2: Don’t think of growth hacks for now on

For hacks and tips, understand one thing. They work only when you work. They are just for the sake of helping you win for the effort you make. 

Instagrammers think of engagement groups, buy followers ,use follow-unfollow method when it comes about growth. 

Actually, these methods don’t work. First, to be clear, having 10k doesn’t mean that you are making money. 

Beginners try these hacks because they don’t understand the importance of working. To be frank, they aren’t ready to work. 

This may help for now, but it will not help you forever. That’s the reality. I see these as the distraction for your goal of growing your Instagram and making money with it.

Don’t fall for these hacks. Your work here is to help them. The more you help your followers, the better is your growth. 

Tip No 3: Use Instagram stories and engagement features

Stories are the place where you make your followers to take action. You can ask them to DM you, mention and share your stories. 

You can’t simply ask someone to share your posts, but you can do that with your content. When your content is shareable, it means you got a share. 

People don’t DM simply. You can use engaging stories to make them DM you. You could share some tips, share a business idea, ask them questions, and you have a lot more to do with stories. 

Use polls, questions, stickers and gifs in your stories. They are all worth doing. 

You can get your consultation calls booked. Define a strategy for stories and win the engagement organically. 

Tip No 4: Make more engaging posts

 Throughout the post, I have shared a lot about engagement. Yes ! You might be frustrated with what I should do , even after creating such quality content , if the users are not engaging, what should I do ? 

Yes, you can blame the users for not interacting, you can blame the algorithm for pushing your content. But think one thing , just this second.

 Why is Instagram choosing not to push your content? While there are millions of content creators around the world, what is the point of stopping your growth ?  Actually the truth, the algorithm never stops your growth. 

Either you are targeting a wrong audience or you are doing something wrong with your content strategy. 

For the audience  not engaging with you , it’s their choice. Few are ready to like and leave a comment, and most are shy and ignorant. Just make your content a conversation starter. 

Ignite your audience to react. Let them take the action. Maybe they may agree with your content or they may throw some negative feedback at you, don’t worry, ignite them to react. 

Remember, people react to the content they want to resonate with. They can’t react to a bare head, and you can’t expect that. 

Tip No 5 : content is king, but context is the queen

Oh ! A lot about content. You have been learning a lot about how you have to make content. Now it’s the time you are going to react. Whenever you make a piece of content, think of it as a piece of golden shit. 

One Last piece of advice:

You don’t promote more of yourself and think more about them. As dale Carnegie says

“People are interested in themselves, not you “

For every engagement you get from your audience, you need to replace that with your information. Educate them, help them, and give something to them. 

Dont forget to pin this 
Instagram algorithm 2021

Final Words:

Here is the one thing that I want to insist on after making you read such a long post. Don’t go for quick wins or shortcuts to grow your Instagram account. Instead, build genuine and raving fans who take part in your success and you take part in their success. 

Share this with someone in your Instagram community who is looking for a growth hack or real-time advice. 

What is your strategy in growing your Instagram account? Leave your comments below. 

P:s Don’t forget to download this Instagram Algorithm guide as a pdf. Enrol in the free Instagram masterminds now.

Durga Thiyagarajan

Durga Thiyagarajan

I teach content creators, bloggers and creative entrepreneurs to build, scale and grow their online business with effective Digital Marketing Strategies.
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