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Guidelines for the 2021 Instagram Algorithm

We all know what the New Years means: new Social Media Tips!

So I wanted to take a minute and share with you some of the tips that seem most relevant for you busy entrepreneurs. A one-stop-shop for your 2021 Instagram trends! A big shout out to Later, a social media marketing platform who has been collecting information all year long just to give us more insight into the upcoming year.

Instagram tips, 2021, Womade, blog, building your strategy, best time to post, instagram, social media tips, trending aesthetics

Let's check out some of the new information coming together as you plan your 2021 strategy.

I've collected for you here:

  1. Top Tips

  2. Building Your Strategy

  3. Top 5 Trending Aesthetics

Top Tips

  • Increase interactions with: interactive story stickers; engaging captions and comments; cross-promote your content on your story with link to post; DMs are mega important, too.

  • New features always get privileged: Instagram algorithm promotes them, so that means they'll promote your content, too.

  • Optimize your Hashtags: Instagram tries to show relevant posts to users, so make sure to post regularly, use niche hashtags and compelling content. (Think: Smallest Viable Audience). This will help you big time to appear on the Explore feature.

  • Regular Stories: Stories run on a 24 hour basis. Then they disappear. Forever. (Unless you pin them.) This means accounts need to have very regular, if not constant stories active on their account. Reminder: The user sees the stories in order of the accounts they interact most with.

  • IGTV Videos and Reels: Try a 1 minute preview to draw users in. Include subtitles! Inclusion is on everyone's mind this year!

  • Analytics Review: if your using a platform like Later, they can provide you with interesting feedback on how your posts are reaching your audience. This leads me to my next segment.

Building Your Strategy

We all understand the most basic of Instagram rules: more interactions = better scores in the algorithm. Why does the algorithm matter? Well, it determines when and how your posts will be shared with which public. When diving in behind the screens of Instagram, these are some of the guiding principles you should keep in mind when planning your strategy. Later has got a few others to explore, but I've taken the time to highlight the most important tips for entrepreneurs:


Instagram shows users posts that they think will please them. They do this is by focusing on the user's interests. These are determined by interactions; the algorithm will show users the posts of other accounts with which they frequently interact. Interactions include: likes, comments, views, participation in story polls, DMs. You need to show your followers consistent content, so they can continuously feed their "likes" back to the Instagram algorithm, boosting your standing.


Instagram is trying to crate a platform where users are connected based on real relationships. They want users to feel connected to each other. This means that you need to connect to your audience. If you want to appear in their feed, you need to interact with their posts as well. A one way street method might work for large corporations, but for entrepreneurs, your audience is likely going to be quite small at first. See the bright side of this: you can actually interact with your followers as your authentic self. Be you. Build relationships on the platform and your standing will certainly improve.


As a general rule, Instagram wants to show the most recent posts first. For you entrepreneurs, this means you need to take some time to determine the best time to post for your audience.

Different target groups will have different Instagram usage times. If you need a place to start, check out this chart below. It's based off of research done by Later, on a global study of 12 million Instagram users.

When I cross referenced this with some francophone statistics, I found the ideal times to post (on average) is before (7 - 10 am) or after work (5 - 7 pm) & lunch breaks. In general, Instagram is seen as a form of entertainment, so it is mainly used outside office hours.


This guideline might be important for you, should you find your followers are not frequent users. Frequent users will be shown posts that are more recent, ie. chronological sorting. Less frequent users will be shown posts that are more pertinent to them, ie. relevancy sorting.

In the first case, make sure to be posting regularly and frequently.

In this second case, it is even more important to focus on relationship building or your posts will likely not be seen.

Top 5 Trending Aesthetics

With large resources to pull from, Later has also launched an article showing the trending Instagram aesthetics going into 2021. I'm going to talk to you about their top 5 trends, to see their 7 others, check it out Where is the Instagram Aesthetic Headed in 2021?.

1. Reels

Think TikTok for Instagram. These 15-30 second videos are short capsules you can use to grab attention. And guess what? It's a new feature, which means free promotion on Instagram because your using a new feature! 🙋🏽‍♀️Yes, please!

2. Brand Storytelling

More people are checking out companies via Instagram. It's a quick check to see if your design and values align. Google is great for basic information, but it lacks the personal touch Instagram offers. So be you and tell your businesses story. Give your audience a quick and easy way to figure out what kind of business you are.

3. Inclusivity & Accessibility

The BLM's spotlight this year has pushed the conversation around recognition and promotion of our innate human connections. Representation is incredibly important and people are starting to embrace inclusion in their visuals. It's not just appearances and gender issues, it's also cultural sensitivity, awareness of abilities, age and more. Educate and reflect on people around the world. Create a community that includes, rather than excludes. We'll all love you for it.

4. Be real. Be authentic.

This has two parts:

A. The days of radically edited photos are at an end! People today are looking for high quality, natural photos; ones that show off the real world.

B. Show your edited side, but don't be afraid to showcase your struggles, too. People connect most through vulnerability.

5. Cause Advocacy: Text-Heavy Carousel

Finally! Speak up for social causes you believe in. It's more than a simple photo to show you support the cause. People want compelling informative material. Text-heavy carousel photos are in. People want to be informed. Support causes that align with your company values and let people know you care.

What do you think?

These tips are based on numbers, but personal experience is also important.

What have you noticed in the past year? Do you think we've missed anything?

At WOMADE, we build together. Come be a part!

Share your experience and let us know what you think.


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