The Instagram Algorithm 2023 Explained – How Discovery Works on the Platform

Photo credit: Instagram

With increasing scrutiny of social media platforms and the information they collect about their users, here’s a look at how the Instagram algorithm will work in 2023.

The discussion about social media algorithms has grown noticeably louder as state and federal agencies debate the merits of TikTok. As such, competitors like Instagram are keen to clear up misconceptions about how the sausage is made in their proverbial factory. Below is a breakdown of Instagram posts Notice about how ranking will work throughout the system in 2023.

Instagram’s ranking algorithm in 2023

Instagram doesn’t have a single algorithm that determines what people see and don’t see on the platform. Instead, each part of the app uses its own algorithms, classifiers, and processes to “make the most of people’s (and their investors’) time” and accommodate the different ways Instagram is used.

For example, Instagram says people tend to search for their closest friends in Stories, use Explore to discover new content and creators, and “get entertained” in Reels. Instagram organizes things differently in each part of the app and has features like Close Friends, Favorites, and Follow that make it easier to customize your experience.


Your feed is your personalized “home base” on Instagram, and is designed to show you a mix of content from the accounts you choose to follow, recommended content from accounts Instagram “thinks” you’ll like, and ads. Here you get a little bit of everything on Instagram, with a mix of videos, photos and carousels – and most of the algorithms used to determine the content you interact with are at play in your feed.

In addition to recent posts from people you follow, you’ll see posts from accounts you don’t follow but that Instagram thinks may be of interest to you based on various factors, including what and who you followed are, have liked, or are recently engaged to.

Instagram says it tries to find a balance between these two, so you don’t only see recommended posts, and you don’t only see posts from accounts you already follow.

The Platform takes into account all the information it has about what was posted, the people who made those posts, and your preferences (including format). For example, if Instagram detects that you interact with photos more, photos will be shown to you more often.

Instagram calls these “signals,” and there are thousands of them: everything from when you share a post, to how you use a phone or the internet, to how often you like videos. The top signals across the feed, ranked by importance from Instagram, are:

  • your activity; Posts you’ve liked, shared, saved, or commented on.
  • information about these posts; How many people liked it, commented etc. and when and where was it posted?
  • Your past interactions with someonewhether or not this post is from someone you appear to have an interest in content based on (for example) mutual comments on the posts or other interactions.

From there, the Instagram algorithm makes predictions such as how likely you are to interact with a post in various ways, such as liking and commenting. It’s all about how likely you are to spend a few seconds on a post, comment, like, share, and tap the profile photo. The more likely you are to take multiple actions on a post, the higher up in feed that post will appear.


Stories are meant to share “everyday moments” with people and things you already care about. The content consists of stories from people you want to follow and, of course, ads. Instagram ranks the stories (ad-free) shared by the accounts you follow and considers signals including:

  • View history; how often you view an account’s stories.
  • engagement story; how often you interact with this account, e.g. B. through likes or sending direct messages.
  • Vicinity; how likely you are to be connected as family or friends.

Based on this information, Instagram predicts the stories that are most relevant to you and most likely to engage with, and shows you those stories first.

Explore Instagram with the algorithm

Explore is designed to help you discover new things on Instagram. The grid consists of recommendations from accounts you’re not already following. Instagram examines posts you’ve liked, saved, shared, and commented on in the past to find photos and videos it thinks may be of interest to you based on these criteria.

Again, the best way for Instagram to gauge how interested you will be in something is to predict how likely you are to engage with the post. The most prioritized actions are liking, saving and sharing, and the top signals it looks at are, in order of importance:

  • information about the post; how popular a post seems to be (likes, comments, shares, etc.)
  • Your activity in Explore; Posts you’ve interacted with in the past in Explore are displayed so that more posts of this type can be recommended.
  • Your previous interaction with the person who posted; if it’s someone you’ve interacted with before.
  • Information about the person who postedhow often they post, how many times people have interacted with their content recently, etc.

Most of the content you see in Explore comes from people you don’t follow. However, Instagram considers content and people you’re already interested in when it finds new content to recommend.

How does the Instagram algorithm for reels work?

As with Explore, a lot of the content you see on Reels comes from accounts you don’t follow, but which have a more entertainment focus. The algorithms for ranking the content you see on Reels are similar to Explore, with predictions focusing more on how likely you are to share a reel again and watch it to the end. The most important signals here are:

  • your activity; Reels you’ve liked, saved, reshared, etc.
  • Your previous interaction with the person who postedif applicable.
  • Information about the role; Popularity and, if applicable, the audio/video content used.
  • Information about the person who postedtheir number of followers, viewer engagement level, etc.

How to Influence What You See – Play the Instagram Algorithm

Of course, how you use Instagram affects what you see and don’t see. By interacting with the profiles and content you enjoy, you help improve your own experience on the platform.

To further curate your experience, you can “teach” Instagram what you do and don’t do by adding accounts to your favorites list, choosing your close friends (whom Stories relies heavily on), and muting or unfollowing accounts you’re a part of are not interested want to see.

Complete surveys when Instagram asks if this content is relevant. For a recommended post you don’t like, mark it as “Not Interested” so Instagram can learn not to show you more content like this. You can also hide suggested posts that contain subtitles with words, phrases, or emojis you don’t want to see.

Shadow banning and account status

Shadowbanning is a term that many have heard but may not quite understand what is meant. While the term can encompass many things, it generally refers to restricting or hiding a user’s account or content without a clear explanation. Instagram algorithm favors or completely hides content from shadowbann accounts.

“It’s in our interest as a company to ensure creators can reach and be discovered by their audiences so they can continue to grow and thrive on Instagram. If there is an audience that is interested in what you share, then the more effectively we help that audience see your content, the more likely they will use our platform,” the company explains.

“While we’ve heard that some people believe that you have to pay for ads to get more reach, we don’t suppress content to encourage people to buy ads. It’s a better deal to make Instagram more engaging overall by increasing the reach of those who create the most engaging content and sell ads to others.”

However, Instagram developed its Account Status feature to help users with Creator status or business accounts better understand why their content might not be eligible for a recommendation. It allows users to delete any content affecting their account and to appeal decisions made regarding their account. Of course, content that violates Instagram’s terms of service is not eligible for a recommendation

“We want people and creators to be in control of their Instagram experience, and we’re constantly looking for ways to add even more transparency and control to the app,” the company concludes, adding that providing more context for the Ranking and moderation of content is required. “just part of the equation” and that Instagram will continue to provide ranking updates as its systems evolve.