2020 Instagram Algorithm for Dummies

When Instagram moved away from a chronological feed format, it raised a lot of questions. Why isn’t my content being shown to more of my followers? Why did my engagement rate drop so suddenly, yet my follower base is steadily increasing? Are hashtags still effective? Does the algorithm honor videos over photos?


Luckily, Instagram set the record straight in January of 2020 on their controversial algorithm and below are the key takeaways:

  • Comments, likes, shares + views impact feed ranking
  • Photos & videos are considered equal
  • Fake interactions (bots or bought engagement) DO NOT count
  • User trends affect the algorithm daily (even minute by minute!)
  • All comment lengths count as engagement (commenting 1 emoji vs. commenting 2 paragraphs = equal)
  • All account types (brand/business, personal, verified account) are equal
  • The first 30 minutes after you post does not determine feed ranking


Here are some tips to help you beat the algorithm in 2020:

  1. Create a content calendar AND engagement calendar…and post consistently
    • Every good social media team knows that planning ahead with a monthly content calendar is essential. Since the algorithm honors engagement and post frequency above all in 2020, we recommend creating a separate calendar that focuses solely on engagement tactics (Instagram Story polls & quizzes, keyword search and response themes, giveaways/incentives, etc.) and post CONSISTENTLY. This can become a lot of work, therefore we also recommend forming a specific “engagement squad” dedicated to only getting those comments, likes, reshares and views!
    • NOTE: The algorithm will memorize your frequency, so when you forget to post at the expected time, you will be “punished” with less engagement.
  1. Manage your time wisely
    • Use the Instagram Insights tool to determine when to post. The algorithm honors content that gets people to stay on their app longer, therefore you need to understand what time your followers are online/ when they are most active and post accordingly!
  1. Use hashtags correctly
    • Yes, hashtags are still a powerful tool for creating viral content! If you are serious about increasing the engagement on your account, we recommend using up to 30 relevant hashtags (tuck them away in the comments section!). If you feel this is too spammy for your brand, still try to aim for at least 3-11 hashtags. A combination of branded, product and community hashtags creates the perfect environment for engagement (and increases your chances on getting your posts onto the Instagram Explore page!)
  2. Own your brand look & feel
    • As mentioned previously, Instagram honors the accounts that get people to stay on their app for long periods of time. Having a visually stunning feed will encourage new followers to go onto your feed, like multiple images and endlessly scroll. We recommend color grading your feed as this will get your followers to recognize and remember your work.


Click HERE to learn more about how our team of digital experts can help you grow your social media presence in 2020!