How Instagram ranks your content

Posted on
Nov 18, 2018
Marti Mendoza

Before July 2016, Instagram used to have a reverse chronological order on their posts whenever users scroll through their feed.

It was not accepted well by the community at first. However, Instagram says it has led to its 800 million-plus users seeing 90 percent of their friends’ post and spending more time on the app.

The main purpose of this algorithm was to show the users the most relevant posts specially catered to them.

Here are the factors that determine what Instagram puts on your feed.

First, there are three main factors that are involved:

- Interest

- Timeliness

- Relationship

Then, there are three more categories that influence the main factors.

- Frequency

- Following

- Usage

Here’s explaining each in more detail.

1) Interest

This one is how much Instagram thinks you will care about the post.

Based on past interactions you have had with other posts and accounts, Instagram knows which genres you are most likely to be interested in. Whether this is food, fashion, travel, etc., Instagram will put these posts first.

It is also said that even if the post may not receive a lot of engagement from other people, it can still appear on your feed if it is relevant to you.

2) Timeliness

Depending on when you visit your feed and when the post was posted will determine on what you will see.

Newer posts will usually be higher up on your feed as long as it is relevant to you. 

However, from my own experience, I will see posts that are a couple days old, meaning interest, relationship and relevance are important characteristics to consider as well.  

3) Relationship

This means that the accounts you interact with the most have a high chance of showing up on your feed.

Interactions can be liking or commenting on their posts, being tagged in their posts, accounts you search for, people you direct message, etc. Instagram wants your “best friends” to show up on your feed, so you do not miss anything important.

This has been proven to work as Instagram says that the number of searches have gone down since this algorithm, meaning that people are seeing what they want to see on their feed, without needing to search for the specific account.

The three other criteria that Instagram considers when creating your feed.

1) Frequency

How often you open up Instagram determines this criteria. They want to show you the best posts possible.

This means that if you open Instagram frequently, then your feed may consist of newer posts since it is constantly being refreshed. However, if you do not check as frequently, then you may see older posts that Instagram does not want you to miss.

2) Following

The more people you follow, the more posts Instagram has to go through in order to decide which ones to put on your feed. This means a wider variety of accounts will be on your feed and less from specific accounts.

3) Usage

If you tend to scroll through your feed in short amounts of time, then Instagram will tend to put the most relevant posts first. The longer you browse through, Instagram will dig deeper into different types of content to freshen up you feed.

Other key factors to know:

The timing of the posts is important on how many people will see it. Based on analytics, this is usually outside work hours.

The hashtags used on the posts can determine how much engagement it gets, meaning the more the engagement, the higher chance of showing up on people’s feeds.

Here I suggest using all 30 hashtags on every new instagram post.

Interact with those you want to see more posts from or with those you want your posts to be seen from. This means comment, like and conversate with different accounts.

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Marti Mendoza

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