Onescreener Blog

How the Instagram Algorithm works in 2021 for feed posts

Maria Merceditas Rojo
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Has it happened to you that suddenly your posts are not having the same reach as before? Well, don’t worry, it’s not that your content is bad, it's just that Instagram has decided to upgrade the game and change the algorithm.

In this blog post you'll find out how the algorithm actually works for feed posts in 2021, and what actions you should take to grow your reach and engagement once again.

Why is everyone talking about the algorithm? What does that even mean? How do I beat it?

Basically, Instagram changed the way it displays content to users. Before, the platform displayed a feed in chronological order, and now algorithmically. Why? To offer its users more targeted content so they have a better in-app experience. 

The algorithm for feed posts is influenced by 4 key factors:

1. Interest & Engagement

2. Relationship

3. Timeliness


#1 Interest & Engagement

“Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are”. Your Instagram feed isn’t only based on who you follow, it’s also based on the types of posts you’ve liked and commented on historically, the accounts that follow you back and even the people you are tagged in photos with.

In 2021, your Instagram feed becomes a display window of your personality and your likes. The more the Instagram algorithm thinks you will “like” a certain type of post, the higher it will appear in your feed. This is why the more content you share and the more time you spend on the app, the more you will be feeding the algorithm in your favour.

BUT, how do I measure the interests of my followers on my feed? What are the metrics that impact my feed ranking?

The algorithm prioritizes content with the most engagement. According to Instagram, some of the most important engagements for feed ranking are:

  • Comments
  • Likes
  • Re-shares
  • Views for videos

What I think could be missing here are the “saves” - something to consider while creating content! 

Tip: check this Onescreener feed post where we implemented a call-to-action to encourage people to share and save the post.

#2 Relationship 

The Instagram algorithm wants to prioritize posts from the accounts that you care about. And here is where the rules of the game change. It's not only about having likes and comments on your posts; having engagement is not enough. Rather, you have to let the algorithm know with whom you are interested in having a relationship by interacting with their content.

Whether it is by following back, liking content, answering direct messages or searching for people you know in real life, Instagram will try to calculate the relationship (and your interest level) as soon as you follow someone by serving you their content and monitoring how you engage with it.

Tip: make sure you start engaging with your ideal target audience!

#3 Timeliness

The algorithm also checks how long ago your content was posted because it always wants to give users the most interesting and recent posts.

That’s why it is really important to find your best time to post on Instagram to get the best reach and hack the algorithm. Make it work in your favour! 

One way of finding out when is the best time to post is with your Instagram statistics. Check which days and at which hours your audience is more active.


How many people do you follow on Instagram and how many follow you back? 

If you have a lot of followers and a low engagement rate the algorithm won’t help you because it understands that your content is not interesting enough for the users. This is exactly the reason why it's worth removing inactive or “fake” followers!

Whenever you post a new piece of content the algorithm will show it to a percentage of followers. The more that people engage with that content, the more the algorithm will understand that the content is relevant, and it will push it to more people. So, in the end, it's not about the quantity of followers that you have, but the number of followers who engage with your content through comments, likes, shares or saves.

Tip: this is a guide to remove inactive followers

Hungry for more?