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To go viral on Instagram, your content needs to be featured on the ‘Explore’ page.

Instagram features content on the ‘Explore’ page based on 4 main things:

(1) Your Saved Photos

The short version: Using image recognition and 'lookalike' audiences, you're shown posts similar to ones you’ve previously saved.  

Instagram analyzes the characteristics of the content that you’ve saved. The theory here is that you save content you really like, so they want you to see more of this type of content.

Why? Because if you keep seeing content you like, you’re going to keep coming back to their platform and engaging on it.  

How? Simply explained, through page categorization and image recognition. 


Instagram categorizes pages into niches like travel, comedy, photographer, nature, models etc. If you’ve linked your Facebook page to your profile, it will also use this information to put you into a category. To do this, Instagram will use data like ‘Page type’, enabling the algorithm to find similar content it already knows you will like. It also looks at both your personal Facebook's and Instagram's digital behavior to make assumptions on interest too.

Instagram also runs image recognition to show you content similar to the posts that you’ve saved. First, it scans all your saved content to find common characteristics between them. Then, it searches for similar content and
 shows you these on your ‘Explore’ page. 


Facebook automatically scans every single image you upload, as well as the ones you save. Not only can it detect objects, like mountains or cats, it can also detect activities like surfing or dancing. 

Facebook/Instagram is scanning all your photos and videos and running it through image recognition. 

For example: the above, "1 person, standing, phone, selfie and indoor",  was detected from the below image of the lady in the red dress (@annelisejr). This is a small example of how Instagram and Facebook use image recognition to learn about the media you upload. If you're interested in seeing first hand what Facebook can see about your photos click here. 

As you can see, the algorithm can also detect multiple elements to understand context. In this case, the algorithm is able to figure out that this image shows a "person" "standing", with a "phone" taking a "selfie" "indoors". Using this technology, Instagram is going to show you more pictures on your Explore page of a person standing with their phone taking a selfie indoors!


Instagram also categorizes you as a user based on this image recognition tech. For example, if you upload photos and videos of trees and mountains, you'll be put in the "nature" category. 

(2) Posts that you’ve liked

The short version: This works in exactly the same way as before, except this time the algorithm is  using image recognition to find content similar to previous content you've engaged with.

This is the same concept as image recognition, except this time the algorithm is finding content similar to those that you’ve previously engaged with. It will also search for other patterns too, for example: if you likes hundreds of images from pages that are in the nature niche, it will recognize this as all pages are categorized according to what they post. It'll then additionally use this to show you content like this based on both image recognition and page categorization. The algorithm analyzes your behavior to find common characteristics between these posts you previously engaged with, then aim to find new content you haven't yet seen that also shares these characteristics.

(3) Post similar to accounts you interact with

The short version: The same thing with image recognition and page categorization. However, here plus Instagram additionally finds posts from accounts you’ve previously engaged with but do not currently follow.

Instagram finds accounts that share similar traits to those you routinely engage with. It does this through tools like image recognition, page categories, and hashtag usage as we previously mentioned.


In addition to this, the algorithm also keeps a log of all your history. If you’ve previously engaged with some accounts but didn’t end up following them, you’re more likely to see their future posts in your own newsfeed. This is often the case if you spend a lot of time scrolling and engaging with content on the 'Explore' page, but don't often follow those accounts after you engage with them. 

(4) Based on people you follow

The short version: You are shown content that the people you follow engage with. This is why engagement group are so effective in driving viral posts.  

Instagram shows you content on the 'Explore' page based on what accounts that you follow are engaging with.  For example, say you follow Justin Bieber. If he likes and comments on a random picture, it's likely to appear the Explore page for you, (provided the post also has excellent engagement ratios too). Since we understand this formula, we run engagement groups where accounts in the same niches with different followers engage with each other - helping to drive each other’s following, giving you mutual growth. We offer these groups at Model Connect for all clients.  Below is a walk-through example of this works.


Let’s say you and I are both in the same engagement group and we’re both fitness models. In this example you have 100,000 US-based followers and I have 100,000 UK-based followers. You post a picture. I "like" this post. Because I did that, my followers are likely to see your post in their own 'Explore' feeds. This is because they follow my account and so will see whose post I engaged with, provided it strong engagement independently of this too. Now, if you do it for me, I benefit from exposure to your audience too, as your audience will likely see my post in their Explore feeds once you engage with my content. This is how you can get easy, targeted, mutual growth. At Model Connect, we run the largest model only engagement groups. If you aren't already a part of this, please email to request access. 



You finished your first lesson.

Tomorrow we'll be showing you a lot more, keep an eye out for a text from us!

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