Have you ever wonder how the posts and stories that appear in your Instagram feed are chosen? It’s not a random coincidence that the images are closely related to topics or people you follow or post about frequently. This also means that you can increase the chances of your posts being seen by your target audience by implementing certain steps!

Essentially, the selection of images which appear in your Instagram feed comes down to the algorithm which Instagram uses to serve content to its users. Understanding this algorithm plays an important role in leveraging your account to your desired audience in order to promote your business and increase sales (depending on your business objectives).

Instagram uses ‘Machine Learning’ to optimise the user experience by providing relevant content in real-time, and while Instagram itself can’t explain precisely how it works, it has revealed the basic principles behind the selection process. INSTAGRAM ALGORITHMS “BIG 3” According to Instagram, there are three core pillars that are used to determine what content appears in your feed:

  1. Interest

  2. Timeliness

  3. Relationship

Interest Instagram uses image recognition technology to analyse the content of a post so if you engage regularly with images that feature horses or something equestrian related, the algorithm recognises this as one of your interests and gives preference to content horse-related content when organising your feed. So if you’re trying to target a specific audience, it’s important to bear in mind that the content of your photo can be as important as the captions and hashtags when crafting your posts. Timeliness Timeliness relates to the date and time at which an image or video is posted. Essentially, someone who regularly logs onto Instagram is going to see content that’s been posted within the last few days. Relationships Instagram also recognises relationships as an integral aspect of the algorithm – after all, people use the platform to see what friends, family and favourite celebrities are up to. The more you interact with another account - through likes, comments, DM’s, tags, shares or saves – the more you will see content from those accounts.

HOW CAN YOU MAKE THE ALGORITHM WORK IN YOUR FAVOUR? In brief… you want to focus on increasing the human interaction with your account and posts. The more positive interactions you can generate, the more the algorithm will reward you. You can do this by:

  • Posting frequently

  • Posting content that is relevant and of value to your audience

  • Analysing your account Insights to see which were your best performing posts, and producing more content similar to that

  • Encouraging users to engage with your content (this is where your calls to action, carousels, stories, stickers, video and IGTV come into play)


Another important aspect of your Instagram posts to maximise exposure to relevant audiences is the use of hashtags. There are two important groups of hashtags which have a positive and measurable impact on the reach and visibility of your posts.

Audience Hashtags:

These hashtags are what people use to describe themselves and which you, as an advertiser, can use to seek out your dream audience. Examples of these could include: #HorseLover #HorseRider #DressageQueen and so forth.

Interest Hashtags:

This hashtag group represents what your ideal audience might be following or searching as well as describing the content you are posting about – both of which help the algorithm. Examples include: #EquestrianFashion #HorseShow #TrainingTips For ideal results, use a combination of Audience and Interest hashtags in each of your posts, after all, Instagram allows you a maximum of 30 per post.

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