Instagram has evolved impeccably since its launch in 2010. What was once used as a mere photo-sharing app has now grown to be a lot more than that. It is a platform to showcase your talent, make new friends, and stay in touch with the old ones. It has transformed into an educational space with informative tutorials and tips, a space to voice your thoughts, a mode to seek justice, an impressive e-commerce platform, and so much more. Ultimately, it has revolutionised itself into a display of everything we love, brought to us directly into our feeds, thanks to the Instagram algorithm!

In its quest to continually enhance its user experience, Instagram has embarked on a mission to only show you the content you are most interested in. The Instagram algorithm continues to be an invisible hand altering the Feed. Invisible because Instagram does not publicly post every attribute that determines why one piece of content is on the top part of the feed and another is towards the bottom.

Understanding how the Instagram algorithm works will help you build strategies to create quality content, enhance your visibility, and gain more Instagram followers. What you will read next is a guide that will help you understand different aspects of the Insta algorithm. Here, we explain everything about the Instagram algorithm as we understand it. We will also guide you through various strategies and tactics that will allow you to reach more audiences organically as the algorithm continues to evolve.

What is the Instagram algorithm?

The Instagram algorithm is a combination of algorithms, classifiers, and processes used by the Instagram app to understand what its users like and enhance their user experience. Initially, the app was used to display images in chronological order. However, today, in 2023, the Instagram algorithm has become a much more sophisticated system that only displays content to each user based on what they are most interested in.

According to Instagram, each section of the Instagram app has a different algorithm. This is tailored based on how people use it. Meaning, the Explore section algorithm varies from that of the Feed section, and so does the algorithm of Instagram reels. This is because people use different sections for varied purposes. They often look for their friends in the stories, while in the Explore section, they want to discover something entirely different. Simply put, the app ranks things in different sections based on how people use them.

How does the Instagram algorithm work in 2023?

The algorithm in each section predicts what users will like the most and what should be prioritised in their Feed or Explore Page based on unique “signals”—or information related to the post, the person who posted, or the user.

Ranking Based on the Feed and Stories Algorithm

Instagram notes down information about what was posted, who made the posts, and the user’s preferences. These factors are “signals.” The following are some important signals used by the algorithm for Feed and Stories:

  • The content itself: These signals include the popularity of the post, the number of Instagram likes it received when it was posted, information about the location (if attached), and even the length (if it is a video).
  • Who posted it: This includes information on how many times the user interacted with the content posted by a person in the past few weeks and how interesting the person might be to the user.
  • User activity: This includes the number of posts liked by the user and the content of the post.
  • Interaction history: This gives a sense of how interested a person is in seeing posts from a particular person and how often they comment on the post.

Things to avoid in Feed and Stories:

  • Post too often: The app tries to avoid showing a lot of posts from one single person to users in one row.
  • Violate Instagram’s Guidelines: This is the last thing; you still shouldn’t do with any of your posts.
  • Post misinformation: Repeat this several times on your Instagram profile, and all your content will be taken down.

Read More: Exploring the New Features of the Instagram – Content Publishing API

Ranking Based on the Reels Algorithm

Reels are a particularly popular format designed for entertainment. The algorithm here prioritises entertainment and engaging content. These reels are mainly from accounts you don’t follow (similar to the Explore section). The top-ranking signals for the reels include:

  • User engagement: This includes reels a person has liked, commented on, and engaged with recently.
  • Interacting history: Even though reels are designed to reach new people, it is the past interaction with the person who posted the reel that can affect suggestions.
  • The content itself: This includes the quality of the content uploaded along with the audio or music used.
  • The person who posted it: The popularity of the person helps find compelling content and brings similar content to the user’s feed.

Things to avoid in Reels:

  • Adding too much text
  • Posting watermarked reels (such as from TikTok or Inshot)
  • Posting low-resolution reels (blurry content)
  • Violating Instagram’s Guidelines

Ranking Based on the Explore Algorithm

The Explore section has been particularly designed to help the user discover new things. The algorithm does this by looking at past interactions and other Instagram accounts that like similar content. Here are important ranking signals used by the Explore page:

  • The content itself: This includes the popularity of the post and how quickly it receives likes, comments, saves, and shares.
  • Interaction history: If you have interacted with a particular person, they are most likely to show up in the Explore section.
  • User activity: This includes everything about the posts you have previously liked, shared, saved, or commented on.
  • Information about who posted: These signals help determine the popularity of their account in the past few weeks.

Things to avoid in Explore:

  • Violating Instagram’s Guidelines: Don’t share any potentially sensitive content, as it won’t be shared on Explore.

Instagram algorithm 2023: What’s changed?

Luckily, there is no big or new algorithm this year. The algorithms have been pretty much the same since 2021. However, these algorithms have evolved over time. Let’s explore some changes in IG’s algorithms:

  1. Photos are back on trend.

Yes! You read that right! After the launch of Reels, Instagram mainly focused on video content. Adam Mosseri, (head of Instagram, former head of News Feed) announced however, that they are taking a step back from focusing mainly on videos. This means photos will get as much attention as videos.

  1. More emphasis will be placed on showing the users something new.

You may have seen more suggested content from accounts you don’t follow. These suggestions are posts similar to the accounts you follow that Instagram thinks would interest you.

  1. Original content will rank higher in comparison to reposted content.

In an Instagram post, Adam Mosseri emphasised how important it is to value originality and give credit to the person who made the content. He also said original content would rank higher than reposted or shared content.

Tips to use the algorithm to get your content seen

  1. Respect the community guidelines: Instagram automatically limits the visibility of content that goes against its community guidelines.

*Pro tip: If you feel like you have been shadow-banned, here’s why!

  1. Post consistently: Instagram doesn’t show a lot of posts from the same account. However, it also focuses on how frequently users have interacted with the account. Focus on reels, static posts, and stories. Carousels are here for amazing engagement! You must schedule your posts at specific times for better reach.
  2. Write great captions: Use relevant keywords and hashtags when writing a compelling Instagram post.
  3. Optimise your Instagram bio: People might not know your brand name, but they might search by industry. Add your industry in the name as a keyword. For example, if you own a brand called “Fashion Diva,” your name could be Fashion Diva Clothing Store.
  4. Post original content: As mentioned before, the ranking for original content will be higher than reposted content.

Of course, the Instagram algorithm is always evolving. However, staying up-to-date with the latest social media trends will help you find the right audience and increase your reach. For more such insightful information, stay tuned to Social Nation!