Decoding the Instagram Algorithm: Insights and Strategies for 2023 (1/2)

Navigating the Instagram algorithm can often feel like chasing a moving target. It remains a mysterious force that constantly shapes the dynamics of the Instagram Feed. Past updates to the social algorithm have disrupted brands’ organic visibility, compelling marketers to grapple with understanding the changes. Nonetheless, comprehending the algorithm’s workings can empower you to create compelling content and cultivate a robust following on Instagram. In this comprehensive guide, we will be decoding the Instagram algorithm. Moreover, we will delve into specific strategies and tactics to help you optimize your organic reach. Feel free to navigate directly to any of the following sections for valuable insights and actionable recommendations.

Decoding the Instagram Algorithm and How It Works

Decoding the Instagram Algorithm

The Instagram algorithm serves as a framework employed by Instagram to discern users’ preferences. By leveraging this information, the platform tailors content recommendations to individuals. This aims to present them with more of what they find captivating and engaging.

Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a singular, omnipotent algorithm governing the entire platform. Instead, each segment of Instagram—Reels, Stories/Feed, and Explore—operates on its own distinct algorithm.

So, how does the Instagram algorithm operate in 2023? Within each section, a distinct algorithm utilizes specific “signals”. These encompass details about posts, the individuals who shared them, and users themselves. Moreover, these signals play a pivotal role in predicting which content users will find most appealing and should be prioritized within their Feed or Explore Page.

These signals, ranging from the moment a post is published to the frequency of user engagement, hold varying weight on different parts of the platform, ultimately determining the post rankings. For instance, when perusing Stories, users typically expect to see content from their friends, while exploring the Explore section prompts a desire for novel experiences.

Instagram’s overarching objective is to enrich users’ time on the platform by showcasing content aligned with their interests and relevance.

To shed light on the inner workings of the Instagram algorithm, let us delve into the platform’s official blog, dissecting how each section strategically ranks posts.

Understanding the Algorithm for Reels, Feed, Stories, and Explore

To decoding the Instagram algorithm, we need to get a deep dive into each section of Instagram.


Instagram Reels has become a powerhouse in terms of reach. The algorithm focuses on prioritizing entertaining, funny, and inspiring videos. For instance, Figo’s Reel garnered over 3 million views by combining humor and showcasing their business.

Top signals considered by the Instagram Reels algorithm:

  • User engagement: Recent engagement with Reels, such as likes, comments, and shares.
  • Interaction history: Previous interactions with the account that posted the Reel, indicating sustained interest.
  • Content attributes: Quality, audio/music used, and overall appeal.
  • Account popularity: The influence and popularity of the content creator.

To maximize visibility, avoid the following Reel mistakes:

  • Low-resolution or blurry content.
  • Watermarked Reels with TikTok logos.
  • Reels without audio.
  • Excessive text.
  • Political content.
  • Violations of Instagram’s community guidelines.

Feed and Stories

The Feed and Stories prioritize content from friends, family, and close connections. Understanding how it works can give you an edge against competitors.

Top signals considered by the Instagram Story and Feed algorithms:

  • Content attributes: Popularity, likes, comments, posting time, video duration, and tagged location.
  • Account interactions: Previous engagement with content from specific accounts.
  • User activity: Liked posts and their themes.
  • Interaction history: Interest level in content from particular accounts and frequency of comments.

Pro tip: Engagement matters. The more likely a user is to interact with a post, the higher it ranks. The five primary interactions considered for ranking are: time spent on a post, comments, likes, reshares, and tapping the profile picture.

Avoid these in your Feed posts and Stories:

  • Excessive posting frequency.
  • Violations of Instagram’s community guidelines.
  • Sharing misinformation repeatedly, which could reduce the visibility of all your content.

Explore Page

The Explore page tailors content based on past interactions and accounts with similar content preferences. This allows Instagram to understand your preferences and showcase new posts and accounts you might find interesting.

Top signals considered by the Instagram Explore page algorithm:

  • Content popularity: Likes, comments, shares, and saves.
  • Interaction history: Previous interactions with accounts that may appear on the Explore page.
  • User activity: Liked, saved, and commented posts, both generally and within Explore.
  • Account information: Recent popularity and engagement with their content.

To increase visibility on the Explore page, avoid violating Instagram’s community guidelines, particularly by refraining from sharing potentially sensitive content.

By understanding these algorithms and adhering to best practices, you can effectively optimize your content and enhance your organic reach on Instagram.

Changes to the Instagram Algorithm in 2023

The Instagram algorithm saw several noteworthy changes in 2022, although there wasn’t one significant new algorithm introduced. Instead, the existing algorithms have undergone refinements and enhancements while staying largely consistent since around 2021. To decoding the Instagram algorithm, we need to get the key Instagram algorithm updates in 2022:

The comeback of photos

Instagram shifted its focus back to photos, signaling a departure from the heavy emphasis on video content that followed the introduction of Reels. Instagram acknowledged an overemphasis on video and decided to rekindle appreciation for photos, giving them more prominence than in previous years. However, Reels should not be underestimated, as they still boast the highest reach rate on the platform. Video content remains vital.

Increased in-feed suggestions

Users may have noticed a rise in “suggested” posts from accounts they don’t follow in their Feed. The Feed now incorporates elements from the Explore page, presenting users with posts similar to those from accounts they follow, but from accounts they haven’t engaged with yet. While suggested posts have been around for a while, Instagram began testing more frequent post recommendations. The algorithm for determining suggested posts closely aligns with the Explore page algorithm, considering factors such as user interactions, history of engagement, and post popularity.

Feed customization changes

Starting in 2022, Instagram introduced three different Feed options for users to choose from:

  • Chronological Feed (the “Following” Feed): This displays content in chronological order, without any suggested posts from non-followed accounts.
  • Algorithmic Feed (the “Home” Feed): This is the default option and heavily relies on the Feed algorithm discussed earlier. It presents a mix of suggested posts and content from followed accounts, but not necessarily in chronological order.
  • Favorites Feed: Users can curate a list of specific accounts and view content exclusively from those accounts. Content from these selected accounts also receives higher visibility within the algorithmic “Home” Feed.

While users have control over their own Feed preference, the algorithmic “Home” Feed remains the default setting. There are numerous strategies to boost your content’s visibility within this feed.

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