It has been a frustrating year of Instagram algorithm updates, with changes so frequent that content creators and business owners have struggled to keep pace. 

The cornerstone of this story begins with an  announcement from Instagram in 2021 that the platform is no longer limited to photo sharing. Adam Mosseri, who serves as the head of Instagram and previously at Facebook, took to Twitter to declare that “At Instagram we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now we’re focused on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging.”  

A short history of Instagram changes

When Instagram launched in 2010, the platform was a service for photosharing. Over the years, Instagram has shifted its focus to video-based content, implementing features: Reels, Stories, and IGTV. IGTV allowed users to share long-form videos, while Stories allow for short clips that disappear after 24 hours – similar to Snapchat. IGTV was soon taken over by Reels, ready to compete with TikTok. 

Recent Instagram algorithm updates have changed a great deal about the way reels are published and produced.  In fall 2021, Instagram reels were limited to 30 seconds, and in March of the following year, that limit was increased to 60 seconds. In August 2022, another update rolled out that includes 90 second reels. Instagram has also started implementing template options for reels, making the production of trending reels and sounds much easier for creators. 

Since Reels were introduced, they have been pushed onto everyone’s feed, outnumbering photos. Some users and creators hope that Instagram will boost static posts as much as they do videos, pointing to instances of high engagement on photo posts to urge Instagram and Mosseri to rethink the current algorithm.

Trying to beat the algorithm

Creators and users alike have come to realize that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to the Instagram algorithm, because the mechanics of the algorithm are unknown to the public. While many online are pointing to Reels as the best way to get engagement, others are confident that the newest update will favor posts featuring static images when it comes to boosting your numbers. 

But like all social media, Instagram has a long history of algorithm changes. Back in 2020, Instagram started showing users posts from people they don’t follow in their feeds, labeling them “Suggested Posts,” a feature that has become more prominent over time. This change was made to potentially make content more discoverable, but many users find it difficult to see new posts from the people they follow. In order to combat that problem, in 2021 Instagram introduced the “Following” and “Favorites” tabs under the Instagram logo at the top of the home page. The “Following” selection makes it possible to see just the posts from people you’re following, in chronological order – something that hasn’t existed on the platform since 2017, when Instagram switched to the algorithmic feed. 

Another feature that creators may not recognize as beneficial is the “save” feature, displayed as a bookmark icon below each post. Users can permanently save posts to their collection, or in named folders, to view later instead of searching their feed. Because Instagram has been recently discussing removing public likes, business owners and creators are looking to other ways to promote their content. Similar to likes, Instagram counts the number of saves a post gets. More likes or saves makes a post more likely to appear in your followers’ feeds.


With Instagram as we knew it going by the wayside, each algorithm update serves as a reminder that social media spaces many have come to call home were never really ours – to invest too much time and resources in social media marketing is like building a house on borrowed ground.