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The 101 on Instagram’s Algorithms straight from Mosseri


June 5, 2023


Hey there, cheer squad! If you’re landing here from our post on Instagram’s algorithms, it’s good to see you! If you aren’t, welcome! We are diving into the ins and outs of Instagram’s algorithms. That’s right, plural.

First things first, Instagram doesn’t rely on a single algorithm to dictate what you see on the app. They’ve got a whole bunch of algorithms, classifiers, and processes working together to personalise your experience. Each section of the app—Feed, Stories, Explore, Reels, Search, and more—has its own unique algorithm. Why? Because people use each part of the app differently.

Instagram Feed Algorithm

Let’s start with your Feed— the big guns. Feed takes into account A LOT of signals. Mosseri states there are thousands of signals, and they use these to predict how likely you are to interact (e.g. comment on it or share it). The key signals are:

  1. Your activity– this looks at posts you’ve interacted with to help Insta understand what you like. Aka. if you’ve been liking a lot of Barbie memes lately, you’ll probably keep seeing more of them.
  2. Information about the post– this goes into everything from how popular a post is to when it was posted etc.
  3. Information about the person who posted– e.g. how many times you interacted with this author over the last few weeks. This helps Instagram to understand how interesting this person is to you and whether you want to see their content.
  4. Your history of interacting with someone– e.g. whether you comment or not on each other’s post.

Instagram Stories Algorithm

Okay, moving on to Stories. The Stories you see first when opening your app are determined by a few “signals” that you give Instagram. These include:

  1. Viewing history– how often you view an account’s stories.
  2. Engagement history– how often you engage with that account’s stories (e.g. sending a like).
  3. Closeness– your relationship with the author. For example, if you are friends and/or family.

Instagram Explore Algorithm

Explore is designed to show you things from people you don’t follow, so this one is a little different. While the other parts of Instagram look at your relationship to the poster, Explore doesn’t care so much. If content from someone you’ve never seen before hits the mark, they’ll show it to you. The key signals are:

  1. Information about the post– how popular is the post, how quickly are people interacting. This signal is more important here than in the Feed.
  2. Your activity in Explore– likes, comments, saves, which help Insta determine what you like to see so they can keep showing it to you.
  3. Your history of interacting with the person who posted– this one won’t always be relevant as you will see content from people you’ve never interacted with, but if you have before, Insta will take this into account.
  4. Information about the person who posted– how many times you have interacted with that person in the last few weeks.

Instagram Reels Algorithm

Then we have Reels. Again, like Explore, Reels have their own thing going on. Reels have a focus on entertainment and new things. The key signals Insta looks for are:

  1. Your activity– what you’ve liked, saved, shared and engaged with.
  2. Your history of interacting with the person who posted– similar to explore, this may or may not be relevant.
  3. Information about the Reel- looks at the content of the video, including the audio track as well as popularity.
  4. Information about the person who posted– popularity signals including how many followers they have and level of engagement.

Let’s Bust Some Myths: Shadowbanning

Mosseri is so over hearing about Shadowbanning. We can’t say we blame him; this unhelpful rumour has been spreading forever and is just a big no from us. Mosseri has stated again that Shadowbanning is just not a thing. Yes, your account can get reduced Reach if you break community guidelines, but Instagram won’t reduce your Reach otherwise. He stated that:

“Contrary to what you might have heard, it’s in our interest as a business to ensure that creators are able to reach their audiences and get discovered 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 they will use our platform. While we’ve heard some people believe you need to pay for ads to achieve better reach, we don’t suppress content to encourage people to buy ads. It’s a better business to make Instagram more engaging overall by growing reach for those who create the most engaging content, and sell ads to others.”

And that’s a wrap, friends! We hope this breakdown into the Algorithms helped you as much as it helped us. One announcement we were actually glad to hear from Mosseri!




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