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The 2023 Instagram Algorithms Explained and How You Can Utilize Them to Grow Your Small Business



Gone are the days you're allowed to blame your low social media performance on the infamous algorithm! The head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, posted a Reel at the end of May explaining all about how ranking works on Instagram with the different features and what YOU can do to better use the platform to grow your presence. I'm laying all the secrets out for you here, so don't leave! I promise I'm keeping it super short and sweet.


We're going to cover:


  • How the algorithms work

  • Ranking for Stories

  • Ranking for Feed

  • Ranking for Reels

  • Ranking for Explore

  • Shadowbanning: what it means and how you actually get shadowbanned

  • Instagram 2023 Best Practices


Are you ready to play by the algorithms and increase your reach and engagement? Let's go!



How the algorithms work


First of all, there is not just one, but multiple algorithms that run the platform. The overarching goal of the algorithms is to personalize the user experience for each person.


For each content location (Stories, Feed, Reels, Explore), the Instagram algorithms uses PREDICTIONS and SIGNALS to determine whether you may be interested in a piece of content or not. Their goal is to show you more of what they think you want to see.


What does this mean for you if you're using Instagram for business purposes? It means that it's more important than ever to know the ins and outs of your target audience, create original content, and check your insights.


Let's dive into how each piece of content is ranked.



ranking for stories


The algorithms do their best to show you the Stories they think you'll most want to see first.


GOAL:

To connect you with people you care about and are interested in


PREDICTIONS:

How likely you are to tap on the Story to open it

How likely you are to reply to the Story

How likely you are to like or react to the Story


SIGNALS in order of importance:

Your history of interacting with that accounts Stories (are you likely to tap on the Story, like it or react to it?)

How close you seem to the author of the Story (DM history)


WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU:

Your goal is to get people to view your Stories and then interact with them by either liking or reacting. You can accomplish this by regularly posting Stories that your audience is interested in and then using a Call To Action, such as inviting them to Like the Story if they agree with your statement. Check your Insights if you don't know what your audience might want to see in your Stories!



Ranking for feed


GOAL:

To catch you up on the very best posts since the last time you used the app


PREDICTIONS:

How likely you are to comment

How likely you are to Like the post

How likely you are to share it with another user

How likely you are to tap on profile

How likely you are to spend some time viewing the post


SIGNALS in order of importance:

Your history of interactions on Instagram with other content

Information about the post (Is it popular? Does it have a lot of activity?)

Information about the author

How much you've interacted with the author in the past


EXCEPTIONS:

Instagram knows they're not perfect, so they want to overcome any ranking mistakes by offering you ways to customize what you see on the platform. Two new controls emerged in January... the Favorites and Following tabs, in effort to allow you to tell Instagram what you want to see in case they don't guess correctly. You can use the Favorite tab to see more of accounts you add to your Favorites list, and you can use the Following tab to see the most recent posts from people you follow in chronological order (like the old Instagram we all loved and look back on).



WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU:

According to the algorithms, your goal when creating content is engagement. Getting good engagement on a post is going to boost it and show it to more people.


REMINDER: Even though the Instagram platform wants you to get good engagement with your posts, it's important to remember that content that gets good engagement isn't always content that converts. Just because your audience is engaged doesn't mean they want to buy from you (or even know how).



Ranking for reels


GOAL:

Entertainment!!! The purpose of Reels is to entertain you and introduce you to new accounts that you don't follow yet, but might want to.


PREDICTIONS:

What you interact with on Instagram

What other users interact with

What else they seem interested in and you might be interested in too

How likely you are to watch the Reel until it's over

How likely you are to send it to a friend

How likely you are to visit the audio page to create your own video using the audio


SIGNALS:

Your past activity

What Reels you've watched

Information about the Reel

Information about author

Your history with the author


WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU:

Continue creating entertaining short form video Reels to reach a new audience and potential ideal clients. Make sure to keep them intrigued until the very end and use a Call To Action as a close.


HOT TIP: Start your Reel with a very strong hook to be sure they don't scroll away!



Ranking for the explore page


GOAL:

To help you discover new things. The Explore page recommends posts and Reels from accounts they think you might want to follow.


PREDICTIONS:

How likely you are to Like the post

How likely you are to save the post

How likely you are to share the post

SIGNALS:

Information about the post (How popular is it? Does it have a lot of activity?)

History of interaction

Information about the author and their history


WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU:

Create posts that your audience really relates with and will either SAVE or SHARE.




shadowbanning, debunked


What is shadowbanning, anyway? Shadowbanning on social media means not getting as much Reach as you think you deserve.


How do you get shadowbanned? You can only get shadowbanned by violating Instagram' communtiy guidelines. You can check to see if you've been shadowbanned in Settings > Account Status. From there, you can tell whether you're allowed to be recommended on the Explore page and in Reels, as well as whether you qualify to be found in Search features.


HOT TIP: Be sure to never post content that violates the community guidelines and you'll be just fine.



instagram 2023 best practices


Mosseri recommended these five things as 2023's best practices on Instagram.


  1. Experiment to figure out what resonates with your audience

  2. Check your Insights to look for broad trends of what's performing well with your audience

  3. Collaborate on posts with others

  4. Keep an eye on your Account Status if you're worried about recommendability issues (shadowbanning)

  5. Create original and engaging content. Instagram is favoring original, creative content by the authors.



the instagram algorithms summed up


I was going to write a final statement summing up what you can do to play nice on Instagram, but I think Mosseri summed it up pretty well in the 5 best practices he recommends. So there you go... short and sweet.


P.S. My team helps female coaches and service providers grow and nurture their online audiences so they can refocus their mental energy on being inspired to create. If you're wondering if it's time to level up your social media presence to match the level of commitment your clients get from you,


then trust me, it's time.


Send me a DM on Instagram saying "I need to level up!" or whatever you wanna say and we'll chat about a partnership.

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