Some of the most commonly asked questions about Instagram, concern the Instagram algorithm that determines which posts, or accounts are displayed. With more users on Instagram than ever before, following more accounts, and sharing more content, it has become harder for Instagram to track everything. Instagram needed a better way of organizing Instagram feeds, and thus created the Instagram algorithm. This article will show you how the Instagram algorithm works.
The Instagram algorithm is what determines which posts users see when they scroll through their feed. Initially the Instagram feed was chronological, based purely on when a post was updated.
In 2016, Instagram decided to change how the feed was organised, with photos no longer simply appearing in chronological order, but instead appearing based on their new algorithm. This algorithm was designed in a way that users would be able to see more content from users that they like, or content that they would potentially like. (Telegraph).
Since the Instagram algorithm change, it has been suggested that Instagram has the ability to reduce the prominence of certain accounts that Instagram deem to post spam, non-genuine content and excessive hashtag usage. This process has been called “shadowbanning”, however Instagram have denied this practice.
The algorithm prioritizes the best posts, sending the most relevant ones to the top on the feed, giving them more visibility. Posts with more likes, and more views get shown more than posts with few likes, and few views.
With this algorithm there are several important factors that will determine what is displayed in the feed: Interest, Date, Relationship, Time Spent, and Following.
Interest: Instagram uses previous content that you have liked, and users that you follow to pre-determine the level of interest you will have for a given post. For example, if Instagram believes that you will like post A more than post B, based on your previous interactions with post C, then it will rank post A higher than post B.
Date: When was the post shared? Instagram still uses a chronological order to prioritize posts, however not to its previous extent. Timing is still an important factor, and you are more likely to see a post that was posted in the last few days, as opposed to a post uploaded a week ago.
Relationship: What is your relationship with the person that uploaded a post? Have you already interacted with them in the past (comments, likes on their posts and tags)? You have a better chance of seeing content from users that you already know than a relative stranger.
Time Spent: How much time do you spend on Instagram? If you are often connected, you will have a more chronological feed to show you the latest posts. Conversely, if you do not check Instagram often, you will see content based on your previous viewing habits.
Following: If you follow a large number of people then you won’t be able to see all new posts from each account.