How does the Instagram algorithm work in 2023?

By Michela Owen on April 5, 2023

By Michela Owen on April 5, 2023

We’ve all heard the conspiracy theories that social media algorithms are out to get us – that they’re secretly plotting against our posts and laughing maniacally as they bury our content in obscurity. But the truth is, algorithms are just a set of rules and equations that dictate what appears on our feeds. No evil mastermind required!

If you’re a business owner or content creator looking to succeed on social media, it’s crucial to understand how these algorithms work. And while it may seem daunting at first, once you understand the rules of the game, you can start playing it to your advantage.

Think of it like learning how to beat your annoying little cousin at Monopoly – it takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be raking in those sweet social media dollars (or, you know, likes and followers).

One platform where algorithm mastery is particularly important is Instagram. With over a billion monthly active users, Instagram has become a crucial tool for businesses and content creators looking to connect with their audience. But with constant algorithm updates, it can be hard to keep up.

Fear not, intrepid Instagrammers – in this article, we’ll walk you through the latest algorithm changes and give you tips on how to outsmart it and boost your engagement. So buckle up, buttercup, and get ready to show that algorithm who’s boss!

Whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned social media pro, understanding how algorithms work is essential for success. It’s like being a detective, piecing together clues to solve the case of the missing engagement. Okay, maybe it’s not quite that dramatic, but you get the idea.

By staying on top of algorithm updates and adjusting your strategy accordingly, you can ensure that your content gets the visibility it deserves. So put on your thinking caps, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s dive into the world of Instagram algorithms!

What is an algorithm exactly? 

An algorithm is simply a mathematical process that sorts information. (Don’t freak out, this is the most math I ever talk about.) In the context of social media, an algorithm is a proprietary equation that prioritizes posts for each specific user based on what the user is likely to engage with.

This process is designed to keep users on apps longer, so the platform can collect ad revenue or achieve other goals. The algorithm is personalized to each account on each platform. But these accounts are linked, which is why you’ll see the same kinds of ads or content on each profile. 

For example, if you click on an ad for concert tickets, that is communicated to the platform. So then, the platform can send you more ads for more concert tickets for other artists you might like based on your history of likes, follows, and other interactions.

So your phone is not listening to your conversations, and specific apps are taking the information you give it to tailor your experience to exactly what is going to keep you on their platform. 

How does the Instagram algorithm work? 

Instagram tracks everything users and creators do on the app. This data informs their computer programs what to do. You can think of each interaction as a signal. Each unique signal indicates which posts should interest each and every user. These signals are things like:

  • Time posted
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares (Via messages or by copying the link)
  • Saves
  • Hashtags
  • Type of content (story, static, reel, or carousel)
  • The feed the user is in (explore tab versus the home feed)
  • Audio quality 
  • Video quality
  • Content
  • What accounts with similar interests have liked

Because Instagram has a unique proprietary algorithm, I can’t tell you exactly how each signal works or the exact weight it carries in the algorithmic equation. And sometimes, this equation changes! So what might be heavily prioritized by the algorithm might be less important the next day. However, we can figure out how important these things are based on what Instagram tells us and what content we see become uber-successful.

How to work with the algorithm 

So now that you understand the basics of how an algorithm works, how can you apply this to your Instagram content? We got you. 

1. Consistency is key.

The algorithm loves consistency because it makes it easy to rank content. Post consistently; the algorithm will read the content as predictable and reliable. Post when your content has been successful before or when your demographic is often online. You should also maintain your brand identity. 

2. Make good content.

The number one way to make content the algorithm loves is to make content your audience loves! It’s that simple, really. Make content your audience finds hilarious, relatable, helpful, engaging, informative, or whatever! Just make the content you enjoy, and you will start to attract an audience who is passionate about the same things you are. 

3. Keep an eye on the analytics. 

If you see patterns around which of your posts gets the most engagement, try to do more of that! This will help you grow. You can use the meta business suite or other tools to get even better insights. The T&S team loves Hubspot and social pilot, but do research on what would work best for your company.

4. Tag things!

The algorithm relies on you as a source of information. Things like tagging the location, tagging other users, Having a CTA asking your followers to tag their friends in the comments, and even adding appropriate hashtags will positively affect your engagement. 

5. Be mindful of trends

We have seen Reels and other short-form content explode in popularity in recent years. Creators who have taken advantage of this trend have seen massive growth. So even if you don’t choose to create short-form videos as part of your content strategy, keep an eye on trends you would like to participate in. Think about what makes sense for your business and how trends can highlight your unique market position instead of trying every trend once to see what happens. 

If you’re struggling with consistency in content creation for your business or want guidance on leveraging social media for your business or personal brand, T&S is here to lend a helping hand. We specialize in making professionals look incredible online, so they can get back to doing what they do best. Reach out and see if we’re a good fit for you. 

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