How The Instagram Reels Algorithm Works - Straight From Instagram!

Since Reels rolled out on Instagram on August 5th, 2020, it’s been a mystery how EXACTLY they work. All we know is that they DO work. Well, about a year later, Instagram has finally made the Reels algorithm public. They’re spilling the tea on which factors the algorithm considers when showing you Reels content.


It’s no surprise that Reels is the top Instagram feature you should be using if you’re looking for growth or engagement, but how exactly does Reels work if you’re a viewer? What do you need to know to hold your audience's attention when creating Reels? We’re touching on both below!


How the Reels Algorithm Works

Creating Reels to Appeal to the Algorithm



Reels Algorithm

Instagram’s Creator account announced in August JUST how to work with the Reels algorithm to gain popularity.


Reels determines which Reels a user is likely to be interested in based on four factors:

  1. If you watch a Reel all the way through

  2. If you Like the Reel

  3. If you comment something positive on the Reel

  4. If you use the audio from a Reel to create your own


Did you know that by viewing and interacting with someone's Reel can also extend their reach? Take a look at these factors, in order of importance:

  1. Your activity

  2. Your history of interaction

  3. Information about the Reel

  4. Information about the person


Your Activity

Instagram focuses on how your engagement history, like which Reels you’ve liked, commented on, and engaged with.


Your History of Interaction

Instagram takes a look at if you’ve ever interacted with the user who posted a Reel, and how you’ve interacted with them.


Information About the Reel

This information includes the audio and “video understanding based on pixels and whole frames, as well as popularity.” This means AI determines, physically, what appears in each video, as well as (possibly) text.


Information About the Person

Instagram collects information about someone who posts a Reel through keywords, search, and other accounts that interacted with theirs, as a whole.



You definitely will begin to see content that’s based on your engagement history, so be wary of what you watch!



Creating Reels to Appeal to the Algorithm

If you’re new to Reels - or want to get more serious about it - Instagram also revealed things they DON’T like to see in Reels, and will affect reach:

  1. Low resolution Reels

  2. Watermarked Reels (stop reposting your TikToks on Reels!)

  3. Political Reels

  4. Reels made by, or in association with, political figures, parties, government officials or people posting on their behalf


It’s not really a surprise that Instagram steers clear of political Reels. With the introduction of Reels, they made it clear Instagram is moving to be strictly a content-creation platform, for people who explore their creativity through imagery and video content.


Instagram is attempting to keep, at least their Reels feed, a fresh, lightweight platform filled with creative and engaging content.


Bottom line? There’s no formula or guide to “beat” the Reels algorithm. Think outside of the box, and know that Instagram wants content that’s engaging and entertaining.

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