Decoding the Instagram algorithm in 2023 – How does it work?

How does the Instagram algorithm work?
(Last Updated On: June 14, 2023)

The Instagram algorithm is often this ‘mystified’ concept for anybody who is trying to grow on social media.

As a creator, social media manager, small business owner or social seller, knowing how the algorithm works is crucial to gain more visibility, followers, engagement etc.

And since the algorithm keeps changing and updating, you need to stay on top of all current trends and developments.

So what should you do to grab more eyeballs on Instagram in 2023? Here we go.

What is the Instagram Algorithm?

It’s not just one person sitting behind a computer and deciding whose post will appear on everybody’s feed today. It is a much more nuanced and complex process that drives content visibility on Instagram.

The algorithm is not a unique single concept but a combination of multiple algorithms that work together. Instagram describes its process as a “variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its purpose. We want to make the most of people’s time, and we believe that using technology to personalize everyone’s experience is the best way to do that.”

So the ‘algorithm’ is designed in such a way that a user will WANT to stay on the app because the content that they are seeing is relevant and interesting.

The only way to increase audience engagement is to understand what kind of content your target audience really likes and enjoys.

Related read: 25 Instagram content ideas that every small business will need

How does the Instagram algorithm work in 2023? 

So in 2023, what is it that works more? On Instagram, there are multiple algorithms that decide who gets to see what for different content formats. Whether it’s the normal explore feed, reels or stories – each has a separate mechanism at play.

Depending on a variety of factors, Instagram ranks your content for different parts of the app.

Here is an explanation by Instagram of what ranking means and how it’s done:

How does the Instagram algorithm work for feed posts? 

Currently, the model that Instagram follows for its feed posts is based on “interest”. The algorithm tries to understand a user’s interests over time and tries to predict what kind of content you would like to see more.

We add and remove signals and predictions over time, working to get better at surfacing what you’re interested in. – Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri

Here are a few things that determine the ranking of content on your feed:  

  1. The post itself: Details like when was it posted, whether it was a photo or a video, how many likes the post already has etc.
  2. Who posted it: Was it a friend? How often do you engage with them? How interesting is their other content to you?
  3. Your interests: Do you watch a lot of videos? what kind of content usually catches your eye?
  4. Your interaction habits: How often do you engage with the person posting? Do you often comment on or like their posts?

Every single interaction that you have on your Instagram earns that post an interest score. The type of posts that have the potential to match your usual high scores will show up on your feed more.

What should you do to generate higher interest scores from your audience? 

You should try and generate content that will be of ‘interest’ to your user.

A key element of understanding someone’s interest in your post is engagement.

Engagement based on interest is the bedrock of Instagram’s algorithm. 

Your posts should try and evoke sentiments in your audience so that they are more likely to – comment, save, spend time or check out your profile.

Here is a short technical checklist before you post anything on your feed: 

  1. Is the post of interest to your audience?
  2. Will this post be commented on?
  3. Does the post include a CTA that will redirect users to your profile?
  4. Is your image or video of high quality?
  5. Is the post original and not a copy of another Instagram post?
  6. Does it violate Instagram’s community guidelines?


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How does the Instagram algorithm work for reels?

Short video content – or Reels as it is known on Instagram, has been revolutionary. Influencers today know the value of reels and are committed to creating high-production value reels that leave you in awe.

So how does the reel algorithm work in 2023? 

Similar to feed posts, Instagram ranks your content based on its potential interest score. It uses a set of signals to understand the content that you would most likely interact with.

Here’s a pro tip by Instagram for content creators: You should try and create reels that are entertaining, funny or interesting. 

Look at this reel that had useful tips for creators – encouraging them to save the post!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Instamojo (@instamojo_india)

Other tips include: 

  • Using relevant keywords in your captions
  • Using limited but relevant hashtags
  • Including captions to make your content more accessible

They also strongly disprove posting reels that are of low quality, blurry or have logos and watermarks after being exported from other apps.

Check out their complete list of do’s and don’ts here: 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Instagram’s @Creators (@creators)

How does the Instagram Stories Algorithm work? 

The short-lived nature of Instagram stories makes them quite tricky to master. Because they are only present for 24 hours, Instagram tries to ensure that you see the stories of users that you interact with the most.

The content of the story takes a backseat. What is more important is that a person interacts with your story. The more they interact, the more your stories would be shown to them immediately after you put them up.

So how do you encourage your audience to interact with you? 

  • Post regularly
  • Use elements like polls, quizzes, questions etc
  • Put links in your stories (One of the only places where this can be done on Instagram)

Instamojo Instagram Story

How does the Instagram algorithm work for the Explore Feed 

The Explore feed is fundamentally different from the Instagram home Feed in one way – new content by new people.

The Explore feed gives you a chance to engage with content that is not posted by people or pages you already follow. it shows you a variety of new content that you can ‘explore’.

Appearing on someone’s Explore feed is a great way to attract new followers.

What decides what content would show on an explore feed? 

According to Instagram’s CEO, “The most important actions we predict in Explore include likes, saves, and shares.”

Other factors include: 

  • Details about the post: How popular is it and how viral is it?
  • How you have engaged with content on the Explore feed in the past
  • Are there users whose content you have previously engaged with repeatedly but are yet to follow

Understanding the For You page

The Explore page is a dynamic section of Instagram that keeps changing, evolving and upgrading constantly. This section can have completely polar opposite types of content, click-to-ads, reels, informational content, alerts and so much more.

The explore feed can also be tailored to your specific interests even further. This feed is also known as the For You Page since it shows you the content that you will most definitely enjoy. 

You can use this section to also search for content related to specific keywords, hashtags, audio or people to explore content that is useful and relevant specifically for you.

So if you are a social media seller or creator, your aim should be to try and appear on as many For You pages as possible. Here are the main things you should keep in mind when creating content: 

  1. Regular and continuous posting of content that is engaging
  2. Strong captions that have relevant keywords and niche hashtags

Your game plan to beat the Instagram algorithm in 2023 

To succeed on Instagram, you need to ensure you are visible and present across the platform. Your content needs to dive into interactions in the form of likes, comments, saves and clicks as much as possible.

 Pro Tip: If your existing community consistently engages with you – your content would start ranking for newer audiences gradually. 

Here is a summary of what your game plan should be like for excelling in your Instagram strategy:

  1. Be regular with short-form video content
  2. Drive engagement on your stories with polls, quizzes etc
  3. Have engaging and strong captions with relevant keywords
  4. Use hashtags conservatively but smartly
  5. Have regular conversations with your existing followers
  6. Cross-promote your content on different platforms
  7. Use Instagram analytics to understand what is working and what isn’t

Sell more by building genuine relationships 

The catch when it comes to Instagram marketing, is, that it is vital to add a human element to your profile. To rank at the top of your user’s feed, it is essential to engage with your users.

Focus on building a relationship with genuine and honest engagement and connections. This can be done via constant replying, liking and commenting on their posts and just treating each other are human beings, instead of mere digital profiles.

Social media algorithms are ever-changing. Hence, it is difficult to pin down the exact to-do list to attain business recognition and success via Instagram marketing. But, what will remain a constant is building relationships beyond conversions and monetary gain.

What’s more? If you are an online business looking for an easy fix, use our payment links and free online store links. Add them in your bio like some of our uber-awesome online stores and ease out your payment-related problems.

It’s literally that easy!

While you are at it, you don’t you like and follow our Instagram page, for more such business motivation, insights, trending blog posts and more?

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