How Does the Social Media Algorithm Work?

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Firstly, what exactly is a social media algorithm? An algorithm is a mathematical set of rules specifying how a group of data behaves. In social media, algorithms help maintain order and assist in ranking search results and advertisements. Overall, the top factors in most social media algorithms in 2021 are the amount of engagement that piece of content has received (especially within a short time frame) and how much you tend to engage with that creator’s content in general.

Here are some of the defining factors of the social media algorithm:

  • It prioritizes content from friends and family members over businesses
  • It heavily prioritizes content from accounts you engage with most (comment, like, share, or accounts you message)
  • It prioritizes content that has already achieved high levels of engagement


  • Ask questions to inspire engagement from your audience
  • Post content that encourages meaningful, lengthy comments
  • Write interesting, meaningful captions
  • Utilize video content as much as you can
  • Engage with followers’ content during the first hour after you post something
  • During the first three hours after you post something, immediately respond to every comment
  • Experiment with different hashtags and hashtag strategies
  • Utilize Instagram Stories to get a more organic reach with your audience without affecting your feed’s cohesive style
  • Stay consistent! This algorithm will downgrade you if your posting frequency is sporadic
  • Post different types of content including text, images, and video to see which achieves the most significant impact