Instagram Reels Algorithm: Everything You Need to Know

In your quest to increase engagement for your business’s Instagram account, if you consider yourself a social media geek (a phrase we use at Hootsuite HQ to describe a person who loves social media), you have probably already read some articles about the Instagram algorithm as a whole. 

However, it’s crucial to be aware that this Instagram feature has its own unique algorithm to contend with if you truly want your Instagram Reels to stand out. 

So prepare to oil up and enter the ring.

But what exactly are Instagram Reels anyway?

Of course, Instagram Reels are the short-form videos that Instagram launched in 2020 as a rival to TikTok. In only a few minutes, producers can create entertaining, interesting Instagram Reels (and unlike Instagram Stories, they don’t expire after 24 hours) by using simple editing tools to combine numerous pictures, add effects and filters, and add music clips.

The Instagram algorithm, the mysterious formula that determines whether to send a video to the audience or bury it in obscurity, will ultimately decide if your video becomes a viral sensation, regardless of how brilliant it may be or the opposite.

How to work with the algorithm, and not beat it?

join them

Have you ever googled “how to hack Instagram Algorithm?”

It’s 2022 and if you think there’s a quicker method to beating or hacking Instagram’s algorithm, you are absolutely wrong. ⁠

You may even try to find answers on Google, but trust us, you will only find outdated traditional suggestions that no longer work.⁠

How’s the Algorithm in 2022?

The algorithm for Instagram Reels decides which Reels to show to which Instagram user. (What a boss!)

You’ll see Instagram Reels from creators and brands you don’t follow in your main feed, but you can also find them in two other places:


The Reels tab is a lot like the TikTok For You page but on Instagram. To find the Reels tab, locate its icon at the bottom of the Instagram app’s home page to see a list of Reels chosen by the app’s algorithm that you can scroll through forever.

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The explore page tab includes a collection of curated content based on your likes and interests, that the Instagram algorithm serves up. Here you can explore Reels that align with your interests

By pressing on the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the app screen, Instagram users can access the Explore tab. You may use keywords or hashtags in the top search box to locate topic and niche-specific posts, accounts, and tags associated with related content. The results may be then filtered based on specialized categories.

explore page

So here’s our take on this…⁠

Let’s go straight to the point: THERE’S NO WAY YOU CAN BEAT OR HACK THE ALGORITHM

So instead, WORK WITH IT! How? By finding out what it wants from you!

Here are 5 ways to work with the algorithm and not against it!

  1. Relationship

Your relationship with your followers: Do you follow each other? Did they search for you by name? Do you message each other, or leave comments?

The Instagram algorithm also considers how you connect with other users and how you engage in one another’s posts. Instagram is more likely to share your most recent video with another user as soon as it is released if they are obviously your best friend or biggest follower.

In light of this, you should expect to be given videos from producers you’ve never heard of on Reels and Explore. Instagram also considers if you have previously engaged with them in any manner – lurkers, put your hands in the air high and proud.

  1. Relevance to the content

The Instagram Reels algorithm does more than just serve the latest Reels. It uses machine learning to create a profile of you and your interests. If you follow or engage with a Reel on Instagram, it will show you similar ones in the future, along with relevant content it thinks you’ll like. This is called user affinity. 

We’ve discussed before how to create posts that resonate with your target audience — it all starts with knowing who they really are and what they like, then applying that knowledge to your posts. 

  1. Interest

Instagram’s algorithm calculates how likely someone is to interact with a post, known as a score of interest, which ultimately determines the order in which posts are displayed in their feed.

  1. Recency

Reels from the past are given less weight by the algorithm than current content. The algorithm gods share the human need to see what is new. Continue to pour in the new drops!

Simply put, recency is Instagram’s way of ensuring users’ feed doesn’t get too far out of date. The algorithm favours more recent posts—although, not exclusively. So it’s important to target your audience’s peak hours when posting & engaging with them.

  1. Popularity

Instagram will recognize that you have something exceptional that other people would also like if you have an engaged audience and content that regularly generates likes and shares.

Sure, it may seem like a catch-22 that you need to be famous to get popular, but Instagram is ultimately in the business of promoting quality material, so if you already have a reputation for producing excellent work, the platform will reward you with discoverability by introducing your posts to a lot more new set of audiences each time you post.

Want more takeaways from this blog?

Click here to find out our 11 best tips for Instagram reels!

Stay on top of the marketing game for your business!

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