How Instagram's Reels Algorithm Works
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
Instagram explains how the algorithm for its Reels recommendation system works.
Instagram explains how it ranks the content people see when browsing through Reels. This insight may help you with creating more successful clips.
Instagram is pushing Reels as its next flagship feature. Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, has gone on record saying he wants wants to go big on video in an effort to compete directly with TikTok.
As Instagram continues to invest in Reels it’s keeping users informed about how this section of the app works.
In an Instagram post, the company reveals how it chooses which Reels are recommended to each individual user.
If Instagram is part of your marketing strategy, learning how the app recommends Reels to users is knowledge that can assist you in the future.
Here are the key takeaways.
How Instagram Recommends Reels to Users
The goal of Instagram's Reels algorithm is to surface content users will not only enjoy watching, they’ll likely engage with it as well.
In order to determine which Reels to show users, Instagram’s algorithm considers how likely an individual is to:
Watch a Reel the whole way through
Say it was entertaining or funny
Go to the audio page and make their own Reel
That last point might sound confusing if you’re not familiar with either Reels or TikTok. It refers to the ability to take an audio track from someone’s video and create your own content with it.
Unless the creator has the feature disabled, each Reel has a page where viewers can grab the audio and make a new video with the same track.
Creating a Reel with a highly shareable sound clip can get you far with the recommendation algorithm — but is it more important than likes and view count?
Related: How Instagram’s Algorithm Works & IG Content Best Practices
Most Important Reels Algorithm Signals
Instagram says user activity is the most important signal when it comes to recommending Reels.
The algorithm considers which Reels a user has engaged with in the past, and whether they’ve had any direct interaction with the content creator.
That means responding to comments, DMs, and tags can help get your content shown in peoples’ feeds more often.
After that, Instagram looks at information about the video itself and information about the content creator.
The most important signals for the Reels recommendation algorithm are (in order of importance):
User activity: Including recent engagement with Reels and interactions with content creators.
Information about the Reel: Such as its popularity, its audio track, and understanding of the video based on pixels and whole frames.
Information about the creator: Including who they are and how other users have interacted with them.
Types of Content Instagram Won’t Recommend
There are several types of content Instagram won’t recommend regardless of how popular the creator is or how much engagement the video receives.
Instagram avoids recommending Reels for the following reasons:
The video is low resolution and/or watermarked.
The video contains political content.
The video was made by political or government figures.
If you want to get anywhere with Instagram Reels, aim for producing high quality and original content. Watermarked videos recycled from other sites will not get surfaced in peoples’ feeds unless they follow the creator directly.
Lastly, keep the subject matter light and friendly for all audiences.
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