How the Instagram Algorithm Works in 2023

One of the ever evolving facets of social media marketing is the Instagram algorithm. With over 1.22 billion monthly active users, Instagram is undoubtedly one of the most popular social media platforms right now. It has also become a go-to platform for content creators and businesses out there because of its favourable algorithm for content published on it. 

So you could be wondering what’s in the algorithm that makes Instagram a popular choice for brands and creators? 

In this blog, we will unlock the secrets behind the magic of the Instagram algorithm, how it will work in 2023, and more importantly, how you can set yourself up for Instagram success by knowing how these algorithms work. 

But first, what is the Instagram algorithm? 

Instagram Algorithm - person browsing on an Instagram feed

The Instagram algorithm is a set of rules that the app implements on ranking the content published within the platform. You can publish various types of content on Instagram, from photos, videos, live videos and the most popular and widely used ‘reels’. The algorithm will then assess and decide what kind of content will be shown to users based on various factors. 

One factor is the user’s frequency of engagement on a certain topic of interest. 

For instance, If Jack likes to browse and engage with sports car content on Instagram, the algorithm will more likely feed him with sports car related content, even from the accounts he isn’t following. This is commonly known as ‘Suggested’ posts. But remember that ‘Suggested’ posts aren’t necessarily ads, they are related content published by accounts Evan could be interested in based on his previous actions on the platform. 

Another deciding factor is the kind of content a user is consuming on the app.

For example, if Lily always watches Reels on Instagram, she’ll more likely be fed with Reel content on her feed. Of course, the reels shown will be based on her topics of interest, say luxury bags or designer clothes. 

With another year well underway, Instagram continues to update its algorithm to ensure a better feed experience for its users. Here’s how it works on all facets of Instagram! 

How does the Instagram ‘Reel algorithm’ work? 

Since onboarding Reels in 2020, Instagram has exerted it’s utmost effort in making it the most-consumed content on their platform. It seems it has paid off, with about 2.35 billion users interacting with Reels monthly, mostly because of their interest with content of 30 seconds or less in length. 

And that is an enormous amount of Reels engagement, which is why this content type dominates the algorithm.

So how to master the algorithm game and create reels that will gain more reach?

As Instagram tries its best to compete with its fellow content players like TikTok, it prioritises original content on Reels. That means it should not contain any watermarked videos (esp. ones with the TikTok logo), or your reel will gain minimal reach and next to no engagement at all.  

“The gram” also bumps higher-resolution reels further up by showing it in more user’s feeds. Therefore ensure your reels are shot in high resolution frames. Try to add audio (sounds), particularly trending ones in your reels, as that is favourable to the algorithm.

The length and screen size of the reel is also one thing it takes into account. Make sure it is cropped at 9:16 and is up to 30 seconds long.

There’s a reason why many users are consuming short-form content like Reels. But the most crucial element towards the algorithm favouring your reel is the quality of the content. It should be engaging, educating, and entertaining, and it must be in line with the Instagram community guidelines. Instagram's algorithm favours content that gains likes, comments, shares, and views, and even bookmarks, so, beefing up your reel effort is the way to go. 


How does the Instagram algorithm work for IG posts? 

Unlike Reels, the posts you see on your feed come from accounts you already follow. But it doesn’t mean your IG posts won’t benefit from the algorithm. It still plays a role on what content you’ll see on your feed as you browse. 

The first signal for the algorithm is the account who made the post. If you often interact with their posts, you will more likely see their future posts in your feed. It still depends on the content quality, the number of engagements it is getting, and the account’s follower count. 

The type of post also matters for the algorithm. Whether it's a photo or a video, or how long the video is, can also be used by the algorithm to position your post on other user’s feed. Even the location attached and the device where you viewed it can be detected by the algorithm. How smart is that? 


How does the Instagram algorithm work for IG stories? 

Unlike both reels and posts, the ability to comment or tag the content with a “like” on IG stories is disabled. But the algorithm still can determine signals that your story is gaining traction amongst your followers. 

One signal is the direct messages (DM). More often than not, your IG stories come with a message chat which allows your followers to “love” or “reply” to it. If your stories often get replies, it will most likely be shown more to your followers. 

Profile clicks are also a determining factor. Do your followers click your profile after viewing your story? If they do, your story will be more favoured by the algorithm. 

Even the length of time the followers viewed your story is a signal to the algorithm. If they viewed all your stories to its full length, it could signify interest. And thus, gain a better positioning on everyone’s feed. 

How does the Instagram algorithm work for the “Explore feed”? 

The Explore feed is an interest-based feed; that’s a fact. If you ever find your Explore feed full of food photos, that’s already the Explore feed algorithm at work, maybe you could be interacting with food-related content alot. 

While it is a different area, the Explore feed algorithm is no different from the previous content types we’ve discussed. The algorithm still looks at the content previously engaged with by the users, taking into account the likes, views, shares, comments, and even bookmarks they made

The posts’ engagement is also a key determiner for its appearance on your Explore page. If it’s gaining a lot of engagement and it caters to your interest, chances are it will appear on your Explore feed very soon. 


Do shares and notifications factor into the algorithm? 

Yes, they do! If you share an account’s post to your story, their content will eventually appear more on your feed, and their related posts will also. Same goes with notifications – turning notifications on for a certain account signifies immense interest, and accordingly, the algorithm’s play will be in full effect. 


All go in rhythm with the Instagram algorithm! 

The Instagram algorithm is such a smart innovation that reads your interests and will bring all that into your feed. Whether you’re into fashion, news, sports, and entertainment, the algorithm is surely busy reading what you’re browsing and will give you related content as you wish. It’s just a gift that keeps on giving! 

And it also positions you as a content creator on Instagram – you can consistently publish content that your audience is interested in, and the algorithm will be your friend in this journey. 

Set yourself up for social media success with Melbourne’s trusted social media marketing and digital marketing experts at Elephant in the Boardroom! All it takes is a few clicks. Make an enquiry here!

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