How Does the Instagram Algorithm Work?

Instagram algorithm is constantly changing setting new rules for content creators. Learn how to create engaging posts for higher Instagram ranking.

Instagram app icon

Welcome to our guide on Instagram’s algorithm!

We’ll unravel how it shapes your feed, Stories, Reels, and Posts and share tips on how to use it to your advantage.

Get ready to master Instagram’s behind-the-scenes workings in a simple, straightforward way.

What is the Instagram Algorithm?

Adam Mosseri Instagram CEO quote

The Instagram algorithm is a set of rules and computations the platform uses to determine what content to show you and in what order.

It’s designed to provide a personalized experience, showing you content that it predicts you will find most interesting based on your past behavior.

The algorithm takes into account various factors when deciding what to show you.

These include the kind of posts you’ve liked or commented on in the past, the accounts you interact with most frequently, the type of content you engage with, and the content posted timeliness of posts.

The Instagram algorithm isn’t a single, universal entity. It works differently for the Feed, Explore page, Reels, and Stories, tailoring its approach based on each format’s specific features and use cases.

How Does the Instagram Algorithm Work?

The new Instagram algorithm uses several key factors to determine what content to show you:


The Instagram algorithm uses your past behavior to predict what kind of content you might like.

For example, if you often like or comment on posts about travel, the algorithm will show you more travel-related content.

It uses machine learning to analyze the actual content of posts, recognizing patterns in the images and text.

This allows it to categorize posts by topic and show you more of what you seem to enjoy.


Instagram prioritizes newer posts over older ones.

This means that when you open the app, you’re more likely to see the feed posts and stories that have been shared recently.

The goal is to ensure that the content you’re seeing is fresh and relevant rather than days or weeks old.


The Instagram algorithm pays close attention to who you interact with on social media platforms on Instagram.

If you frequently like, comment on, or share someone’s posts, or if you exchange direct messages with them, the Instagram algorithm will assume that you have a close relationship with that person and will prioritize their posts in your feed.

The same goes if you’re tagged in photos with the same person or accounts you both comment on the same posts.


How often you open Instagram can also affect what you see.

If you’re a frequent user, the algorithm will provide a more chronological feed, trying to show you the best posts since your last visit.

If you check Instagram not that often, your feed will be more curated, showing what the Instagram algorithm thinks are the highlights of the people you follow.


The more people you follow, the more content there is for the Instagram algorithm to choose from.

This means you might see less from any specific person, as the Instagram algorithm has to spread its attention across many accounts.


The length of your Instagram sessions also matters.

If you spend a lot of time on Instagram in one go, the algorithm will show you more posts, digging deeper into its content catalog.

If you only spend a few minutes on the app at a time, you’ll see a more condensed version of your feed, with the Instagram algorithm showing you what it thinks are the most important posts for you to see.

Instagram Feed algorithm in 2023

Instagram ranking factors for feed and stories

In 2023, the Instagram Feed algorithm continues to evolve, becoming more sophisticated in predicting a user’s feed interactions and preferences.

It meticulously sorts through the content of the accounts you follow, using various criteria to determine the likelihood of your engagement with each post.

Here are the primary indicators that the Instagram Feed algorithms use to forecast a user’s primary interests:

  1. Post Specifics: The Instagram algorithm evaluates each post’s details, such as:
    • Number of likes
    • Time of posting
    • Location tags
    • Duration of videos
    These factors help determine the relevance and popularity of a post.
  2. Poster Interaction History:
    • Comments
    • Likes
    • Profile views
    This helps estimate how interesting this person might be to you.
  3. User Activity:
    • The number of posts you’ve interacted with
    • The content of those posts
    This gives Instagram clues about the kind of posts you might be interested in seeing.
  4. Content Ranking: Instagram emphasizes that Instagram users want to see content from their friends, family, and those they are closest to in their Instagram Feed.Therefore, the ranking process for these two is more or less the same.
  5. The Instagram new algorithm uses signals like post information, information about the poster, user activity, and interaction history to rank the content in your Feed and Stories.
  6. Engagement Prediction: The algorithm predicts how likely you are to interact with a given post.
    • How long you’re likely to spend looking at the post
    • How likely you are to comment, like, or save it
    • How likely you are to check out the profile
    As a result, posts that appear high up in your Feed are ones the algorithm predicts you will most likely engage with.

Read more: How to embed Instagram feed into a website?

Instagram Stories algorithm in 2023

The Instagram stories algorithm operates similarly to the Feed algorithm, using ranking signals to decide the order of the stories you see when you open the app.

The Instagram algorithm for stories uses specific details about each story, such as when it was posted, the stickers or music it uses, and the level of interaction it receives (likes, responses to polls, answers to questions, etc.).

These factors help determine the relevance and popularity of a story.

The top signals that affect the order of Stories in your Instagram app include:

  • How often do you view Stories from an author (account/creator)?
  • How frequently do you interact with Stories from an author?
  • How close you are to an author based on how many times you’ve messaged them.

Read more: How to save Instagram stories?

How the Instagram Algorithm works for the Explore Page Algorithm in 2023?

Instagram explore page ranking factors

The Instagram Explore page algorithm pulls from accounts you follow and those you don’t, aiming to present you with relevant content you’ll likely engage with.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Your Activity:
    • Posts you’ve liked
    • Posts you’ve commented on
    • Posts you’ve saved
    These signals help Instagram understand what kind of content could be most relevant to you.
  2. Your Interaction History: The algorithm also uses your interaction history with the person who posted. Even if you haven’t followed them, any previous interaction is considered.
  3. Information about the Post: The Instagram algorithm tries to understand what the post is about based on the following:
    • The post’s popularity
    • How quickly it’s receiving likes, comments, shares, and saves
  4. Information about the Poster: The algorithm sees the original poster’s engagement levels.

The Instagram Explore Page aims to help users discover new content and accounts they might be interested in.

It looks at the posts you have interacted with in the past and how many posts are liked by other users similar to you. It then predicts which posts you will likely like, save, or share.

To make these predictions, Instagram uses signals like the post’s popularity, topics you tend to be interested in, information about the author of the post, and how often you’ve interacted with the author.

This combination creates an immersive, engaging, and delightful Explore Page.

How the Instagram Reels Algorithm Works in 2023?

Instagram reels ranking factors

It pulls from both accounts you follow and those you don’t, aiming to present you with content you’re likely to watch in its entirety. Here’s how it works:

  1. Your Activity:
    • Reels you’ve liked
    • Reels you’ve commented on
    • Reels you’ve shared
  2. Your Interaction History: The Instagram algorithm also examines your interaction history with the person who posted the Reel. Even if you haven’t followed them, any previous interaction is considered.
  3. Information about the Reel
    • The caption
    • The audio track
    • Analysis of the pixels and frames
  4. Information about the Poster: Instagram Reels are designed to entertain, so the algorithm prioritizes entertaining, funny, and inspiring videos. Here are the top signals the Instagram Reels algorithm uses to determine which Reels to show users:
  • User Engagement: What Reels has someone engaged with recently? (I.e., Likes, comments, shares.)
  • Interaction History: Have you ever interacted with the person who posted the Reel before?
  • The Content: What audio or music does it use? How’s the quality?
  • Who Posted It: How popular is the person who posted it?

Instagram Reels aims to entertain users, primarily serving Reels from accounts you do not follow. It looks at the Reels you have interacted with in the past and Reels liked by other users similar to you.

It then predicts which Reels you will most likely watch until the end, share with friends, or visit the audio page for your content creation efforts.

Read more: How to make Instagram reels?

What does Instagram not rank?

We have heard that Instagram gets accused of shadowbanning. 

A term often used by Instagram users who want to point out that the platform no longer shows their Instagram posts in the news feed. 

Like many other social media platforms, Instagram has its own community guidelines for what content is not allowed on the social network to make it a safe and fun place for all users.

The good news is that Instagram works on in-app notifications to let you know when your content is taken down. 

On the other hand, you may have produced content that doesn’t go against Instagram’s rules but still doesn’t get enough views or likes. 

There are a few times when Instagram avoids recommending these posts.

  • Too many posts from one person in a row
  • Stories that are reshared from the feed
  • Low-quality reels or reels that focus on political issues
  • Reels with watermark

Learn more: How to get un-shadowbanned on Instagram?

Tips to Boost the Instagram Algorithm to Your Advantage

Instagram is constantly looking for ways to improve the experience for its users by setting new algorithms that might cause changes in your Instagram marketing strategy.

However, producing great content, getting high Instagram engagement ( like DMS, saves, shares, and likes) will always keep you at the top of your game. 

Here are some tips to help you do just that.

1. Use carousel posts 

Instagram carousel photos

Carousel posts are not convenient only for stacking multiple images in one “album,” but also they are great for driving engagement, as users need to tap the photo to see what is next.

2. Put Instagram stickers

Instagram story stickers

Who doesn’t like stickers? 

They are a fun, engaging, and awesome way to get feedback from your target audience. 

Instagram stickers like the emoji slider, polls, and quizzes are great for increasing engagement as users need to engage in some way with your story. 

3. Pay attention to hashtags 

Instagram hashtags

Instagram Hashtags are primarily used for post categorization and greatly help all users looking for something like a place to travel, restaurants, fitness, etc.

Use hashtags strategically and with relevancy in mind when creating new posts. 

Hashtags can get you discovered by people who don’t follow you but look for content such as yours. 

Read more: How to embed social media mentions on any website?

4. Cross-promote Instagram content

instagram cross promotion

With so many new features on the horizon, Instagram has become a great place for cross-promotion for your Instagram account. 

Creators and Instagram influencers can experiment with the various features offered by Instagram and promote themselves or their products with quality content on reals through IGTV videos, relevant hashtags, or stories.

Read more: How much do IG influencers make?

5. Check Instagram Analytics 

instagram insights

Instagram insights can help you understand which of your posts performs best and what type of content your followers enjoy seeing from you. 

Monitoring key metrics like when your audience is most active, their gender and geographical location can give you an idea of what content to post and when to post.

It would be a shame to create a high-quality post that no one will see just because the audience is not active at the moment.

6. Try out Instagram’s latest features 

As you explore the best Instagram apps and these new Instagram features, you’ll find fresh ways to express yourself, reach your audience, and interact with your community.

Each feature offers a unique way to share different aspects of your personal accounts, life, interests, and creativity.

7. Use trending sounds

This tactic is especially effective in Instagram’s Reels feature, where music and sounds are critical to engagement.

Trending sounds are audio snippets, often from songs or viral videos, that have gained popularity within the Instagram community.

By incorporating these sounds into your own content, you can tap into existing online conversations and trends to create engaging content, increasing the likelihood of your posts being discovered by new audiences.

How to beat Instagram algorithm in 2023

In conclusion, the Instagram algorithm is a dynamic and complex system that determines the visibility and reach of your content.

Whether it’s Reels, Stories, or Posts, the algorithm’s primary objective is to deliver the most relevant and engaging content to each user.

Navigating the Instagram algorithm may seem daunting, but with a strategic approach, creativity, and a thorough understanding of its mechanisms, it can become a powerful tool in your social media strategy.


How many times should I post an Instagram algorithm?

The Instagram algorithm does prioritize rank content over recency and engagement, which means regularly posting fresh content can help your posts to be seen by more followers.

It’s generally recommended to post at least once per day on Instagram. Some businesses or influencers might post multiple times daily, but this can be overwhelming for many users.

How does Instagram decide what to show me in my feed posts?

Instagram uses an algorithm to decide what to show in your feed. The algorithm is based on machine learning, which means it continuously adapts based on your platform behavior.

How to get your ig post seen?

Getting your Instagram posts seen involves understanding the platform’s algorithm and creating engaging content. . Here are some key strategies:
– Understand the Algorithm
– Post at the Right Time
– Use Relevant Hashtags
– Engage with Your Followers
– Create High-Quality Content
– Promote Your Posts
– Utilize All Features
– Consistency

What are the main factors of the Instagram algorithm?

The specifics of the Instagram algorithm can change and may vary from feature to feature (e.g., feed, explore, reels), but some consistent factors include:
– Interest
– Recency
– Frequency
– Following
– Usage

CEO of EmbedSocial 

Nikola Bojkov is the CEO of EmbedSocial, an entrepreneur who turns problems into products. With over a decade of hands-on experience with social media APIs, he guides EmbedSocial in its role as a technical partner for both SMEs and large agencies, maximizing the impact of their user-generated content. EmbedSocial has offices in Skopje, Tokyo and Lisbon with over 250,000 users.