The History of Instagram shows how it is changed during a decade. The Instagram algorithm first was a simple one in which posts would appear on the feed of followers based on the time of their being published. Based on stats published by Instagram, Before 2016, Instagram users couldn’t see private accounts on Instagram of 70% of posts of their connections including 50% of their friends or relatives’ posts. Considering this as a system flaw, Instagram introduced a new algorithm which was criticized by many users and experts.

What are the factors affecting Instagram feed?

Instagram current stats show that this algorithm had been successful and now, its users can see almost 90% of their friends’ posts and spend more time on Instagram using this algorithm. The new algorithm was secret till June 2018, however, Instagram managers explained the new algorithm and its function in ranking the posts in followers’ feed in a conference.

Studying users’ behavior, Instagram will design a special feed for each of them using machine learning. In this machine learning, if two people follow the same persons in this social media, their feed still would be totally different. In the new algorithm, Instagram will reward pages with high follower engagement rate. So it will consider posts with good engagement rate (receiving more like and comments) as a high-quality post and interesting to more followers.

There are some key factors in showing posts to followers and ranking post in their Instagram feed:

Your followers’ Interest

This factor lets Instagram predict the importance of posts to followers. Considering these criteria, the posts which Instagram perceives as important to you, appear on top of your feed. This study is based on users’ previous reaction to similar content and also visual analyses of the posts.


The time of publishing posts and how recent it affects the rank of posts. Instagram would show recent posts more than older ones.

Relationship with followers

Your relationship with the person who you follow also affects post ranking. Based on this criterion, posts of people who had more relationships with you in the past will be shown on top of your feed. This relationship can be measured with the comment they leave on your posts or tagging you on their photos.

Here are some other factors which may affect your post rank:

Frequency of publishing a content

Frequency shows how often each user opens Instagram and will show the best posts to followers since their last visit.

Having active followers

The time each user spends on Instagram also affects the posts Instagram would show to the user. If they spend more time each time, Instagram will show more fresh posts to them, on the other hand, if they spend less time on Instagram, it mainly shows posts of their friends.

What does NOT affect Instagram algorithm?

Instagram managers also replied journalists’ questions about this new feature in the conference, the following part shows some of them:

  1. Instagram would not return back to its previous format showing posts based on their publication time as its managers do not want Instagram users to be confused.
  2. Instagram would not hide any post. If Instagram users see their Instagram feeds thoroughly, they can see posts of all their followings.
  3. The new Instagram algorithm do not differentiate video or photos. It just pays attention to users’ behavior, if they see videos less, Instagram will show fewer videos to them too.
  4. The story, live video, and other facilities of this application do not affect post rank.
  5. If users publish more posts or show other posting traits, it will not affect their rank. However, if you publish a lot of posts in a limited time span, it will be distributed in followers feeds.
  6. There is no difference in post ranks for business or personal accounts.
  7. Shadow banning is a myth and Instagram would not hide posts for using more hashtags.

The conference lets users understand the new algorithm function. However there is still a problem, the same problem Facebook faced in 2015. The new Instagram algorithm would raise competition and make it difficult to reach your audience.

As the number of personal and business accounts and the content they produce increases, posts would be seen less because the average time users would spend on Instagram remains the same. Some users believe Instagram is promoting its ad service.

The Instagram post ranking formula

Here are factors effective in Instagram’s ranking formula:

  • Likelihood: It shows how many times a particular person has liked your posts. The higher the percentage of liking, the higher the likelihood would be.
  • Engagement Rate: The engagement rate means the number of interactions divided by the number of people who have viewed the post (its reach) multiplied by 8. By interaction, we mean the total number of likes, comments, and shares of a post. We also multiply it by 8 because we need a number from 0 to 8 in this formula.
  • Relevancy: Relevancy means how the subject of the post is relevant to the posts you have liked before.
  • Timeliness: Timeliness means that a post published later is more likely to be shown on your feed.
  • Time Spent: this is the average time users spend on the post.

As shown in the image below, each factor has particular importance in the rank of the post:

This means, a post on a page which users have liked 80% of its contents, would take number 8. The number is the outcome of multiplying 80% in 10.

Finally, the formula for ranking the posts on users’ feed is as follows:

Post Rank = Likelihood + Engagement Rate + Relevancy + Timeline + Time Spent

Note that this formula is not prepared for you to calculate this number after publishing each post. The purpose of defining this formula is to show what factors affect an Instagram post’s rank on users feed and which one has the most impact. With regarding the formula, Likelihood has the most and Timeliness has the least effects on Instagram posts’ rank.

How to Get on Instagram Explore Page?

The Instagram explore page is a page that displays posts from different Instagram pages, whether you are following these pages or you are not following them. These posts are selected according to your previous behaviors on Instagram. So explore page is different for every single user of Instagram.

Every business is looking for recognition. Appearing on explore pages requires changes more than luck. Instagram explore page is a place to find ideas, businesses and even having fun. The explore tab, or the explore page, is also one of the best ways which can help you to get a lot of new followers and traffic.

To put it simply, posts displayed in your explore page do not directly relate to the pages you follow. Unlike Instagram’s main page that only shows posts from the pages that you have followed, the algorithm used for the explore section, reflects your activity on Instagram honestly.

The explore page shows new posts related to your activity on Instagram. Also, stories or live stories which are recorded in your geographic region or Instagram find them interesting for you will be displayed in your explore section.

How does Instagram select the posts to be shown on Explore page?

Instagram tries to show unique contents to each user. This personalization in showing posts in your Explore page is based on the pages that you follow and also how you interact with their posts i.e. liking them or commenting on them. Although the algorithm based on which Instagram select these contents is not precisely clear, it seems that they are selected according to the following rules:

  • The content is displayed based on the posts the user previously has engaged with
  • The displayed content are the posts that many Instagram users have been attracted too
  • The content displayed in the explore page are similar to the content of pages you have followed

Instagram identifies users’ activity patterns, and then displays content based on those patterns. Also, Instagram would look at the activity of similar accounts and how they function.

Four Simple Tips for your Content to get on Instagram Explorer page

Before this, I highly recommend as an Instagram user be aware of its function and Instagram errors. This way, you would have better control over the app, and can prevent any Instagram restrictions. Then you can proceed growing your Instagram account with a better understood app and its algorithm.

In the following section, we introduce four methods you can use to get to the Instagram Explore page.

1. Know your audience

If you want to sell your products, you must first know to whom you are selling them. You should ask yourself what your audience really needs and how your business can help them?

To appear on the Instagram explore section, you should think a few minutes about these questions:

  • Who are your target customers?
  • What are they interested in?
  • How is their Instagram account?
  • Who are they following?

By better understanding your target audience, you can interact with them more easily.

2. Listen to your audience

Listening to your audience can make a difference between sharing your content or its getting ignored. If you want to create contents to fit your audience’s needs, first you need to know which type of content they interact with. If you have already followed your specific industry and target your desired audience, you probably know what kind of content you’d like to publish on explore page.

Follow a few simple points to get closer to the Instagram explore page:

  • Listen to the overall sense of explore page:

What is the general theme of the posts that are being displayed on the explore page? What are their aesthetic factors? Which topics are popular in your society? These are all things you must keep in mind.

  • Use Instagram search capabilities:

With this feature, you can find out what is popular in your geographic area. To do this, you can click on the Places tab in the Instagram search, and make a more accurate tag of your geographic location and write the type of content that is being displayed.

  • Check your followers and followings

What kind of contents do your followers and followings like? Click on the heart icon on the bottom of the app, then select your following from the top of your page. In this way, you can see what they are looking for and what type of content they are dealing with.

3. Use Hashtags

Hashtags are like flavors for your social networks. Whether people use them or not, hashtags are important for marketers. The first thing you can do for your content to be seen is to use hashtags and save your content from being lost in massive contents.

Hashtags work 24 hours a day, and will be shown to anyone who searches for them. However, it’s very important to know the correct way to use hashtags. Remember, do not mess with anything and specifically about your business.

4. Encourage your audience to engage

Do not hesitate to do anything you can to make your target audience engage with your content. The more your Instagram posts get like and comments, the more likely it is to appear on the explore page of your target audience. When you publish a photo or video, think about how you can have more followers or more comments on them.

If you share a story in your Instagram page, make sure you clarify your location. By showing your location, you can increase your chances of being seen in your local area. This will familiarize local users with your brand.

Finally, do not neglect Instagram explore section. As always, the audience recognition is the first step. Instagram Explorer has a lot to do with knowing the audience. Knowing the audience helps you to create the content most appropriate for their taste and, in this way, attract them more. Along with this, the use of hashtags must always be in your mind.

By following these tips, Instagram users can see your posts more easier. And the more you will be seen, the more audiences you will get!


Social media, business, and Tech. writer. I use my skills, relationships and passion to create the content that helps.

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