The Reels algorithm

What you'll learn in this post:
  • What criteria the Reels algorithm takes into account
  • How to stimulate the algorithm
  • What purpose Reels have compared to Feed Posts and Stories

A little over a year ago, we showed you how Instagram’s algorithm works. We’re really speaking of multiple algorithms, to be precise, and one of them is responsible for the popular TikTok clone known as Instagram Reels. Today, we want to go deeper into it and show you how you can send positive signals to this algorithm and thus increase the chances of your videos being shown to as many people as possible.

Reach new fans using Reels

The algorithm is obviously responsible for deciding who sees the Reels and who doesn’t. While in the Feed you will see Reels from people you follow, the Reels and Explore tab will show content from users that you don’t follow. That’s the place where you get a chance to reach new people. And that’s exactly the purpose for which Reels should primarily be used, to entertain and to win potential new fans. With Stories and Feed Posts, on the other hand, you are primarily addressing your existing followers.

So, let us now show you the criteria by which the algorithm decides which Reels are shown and which are not.


The algorithm notes what content users watch and like and then tries to use Reels to suggest similar content. The content of a Reel will be assessed based on the hashtags used but also on an analysis of the video and the sounds used.


Short videos are often also short-lived. Because of that, the algorithm prefers new Reels as much as possible. This, in turn, means that creators have to regularly deliver new content.


The algorithm analyzes both the way in which users interact with the content as well as how they interact with other users. You don’t even have to necessarily follow someone in order for interactions to occur that the algorithm will pick up on.


If you already have an engaged follower base and regularly get lots of likes, shares, etc., the chances of your Reels being shown to more people will also increase. The chances that you go viral without some previous reach, is lower here than it is on TikTok.

So, to sum up, one could say that entertainment value, topicality, and relevance are most rewarded.

Content for the algorithm

Here are some things you should keep in mind to stimulate the algorithm:

  • As we’ve said, the algorithms conducts an image analysis. You should therefore make sure you have good video quality. On top of that, the algorithm likes seeing Instagram’s effects and filters being used in the content.
  • Even though Reels are a copy of TikTok, you shouldn’t just repost your TikTok videos. The algorithm will spot this immediately due to the watermark and will show the clips significantly less.
  • As previously mentioned, the right hashtags will help the Reels be shown to an interested audience. Up to 30 hashtags are possible, but only 3-5 are recommended.
  • The algorithm likes it when you use audio that is currently trending. So, for musicians, it may be worth using songs that are not your own from time to time.
  • Again, interactions are vital, so you shouldn’t focus on Reels alone, but also on other features on Insta such as Feed posts and Stories.
  • As always, it is worth keeping an eye on the analytics to find out which type of posts are especially well-received and what time is best to reach as the most people with your Reels.