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The Instagram Reels Algorithm

March 16, 2021

When we first started talking about Instagram Reels, we weren’t really sure how the algorithm worked. And while the backbones of the Instagram Reels algorithm still remains somewhat of a mystery, but we do know a few things for sure. But, on February 9, 2021 Instagram recently released some new updates regarding what will make the Instagram Reels algorithm either love you or hate you.

Instagram Reels Algorithm | Marketing for Photographers


Instagram is encouraging users to adopt this new tool. Mainly because they are competing with TikTok for the attention of Generation Z, who have an 8 second attention span when it comes to social media content. So, Reels content is front and center right now.

Reels will appear in the larger squares on the explore tab, will be suggested to users in their feeds, and have a star spot in the navigation bar (right in the middle).

All of this means really big opportunity to get noticed by those ideal clients you so desperately want the attention of.

However, this new update on February 9 showed that Instagram won’t just prioritize any reel, they favor particular ones.

no reposts

Yep, if you were like me and recycled TikTok videos as reels, here’s what instagram has to say about that:

“We’ve heard that low video quality reels (i.e.blurry due to low resolution) or content that is visibly recycled from  other apps (i.e. contains logos or watermarks) makes the Reels experience less satisfying. So, we’re making this content less discoverable in places like the Reels tab.”

If you have the TikTok watermark on your video, they will not push it out in any of those locations I mentioned above. Feel free to use a tool like MusicallyDown to remove the TikTok watermark.


IG said that the new Instagram Reels algorithm will be prioritizing funny reels more than anything else.

“People tell us they want to see entertaining, funny, and interesting content in places like the Reels tab, and we’ve gotten better at recommending that.”

Feel free to still post behind-the-scenes footage, tutorials, and what not. But consider your more in-depth stuff for posts and IGTV.


Instagram gave us a helpful hint by saying, “start a trend that others can easily participate in.” Meaning, consider the viral factor of your content. Can you create something and then challenge others to recreate it themselves?


IG wants us to use the creative tools that they offer when creating Instagram reels. Whether that’s text, music, filters, or camera effects, use them all.


If you’ve been creating reels with a lot of text, beware. Instagram has hinted that Reels content made primarily out of text won’t be recommended as much as others. This applies to some formatting styles too, like videos shot in horizontal instead of portrait. Or videos with borders around them.

branding doesn’t matter

IG give us the option to create brand friendly covers for our Reels. However, if you don’t have time for that, that’s okay. Instagram made it clear that when creating reels, like stories, it’s okay to forgo the brand. Feel free to step out of the box and play around with new ideas.

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Ariel Dilworth © 2019