Instagram for a while has been tight-lipped about how its algorithm works. This has left creators having to guess why the algorithm shows more or less content from certain creators. However, Instagram recently revealed some details about how its algorithm works.

Instagram explains its ranking system 

Instagram clarifies in its blog post that there’s no single algorithm that dictates what users would see on their pages. In the blog, Instagram states that the driving nature of the algorithm, whether it is the Stories, Feed or Reels — comes from the activities of the users. Content is ranked differently on each part of Instagram, a personalized experience for everyone.

Ranking Instagram Feed

Essentially, what you will see on your Feed is a mix of content you follow or recommended content — which are based on different factors such as what you engaged in recently (whether you like posts, like them or comment on them). Instagram calls this a “signal” which helps them make predictions on where to rank posts. 

Ranking Stories

For Instagram Stories, the ranking signals they consider are your viewing history, engagement history and level of closeness. In simpler terms: the more you view or interact with a user’s Stories and how likely they are to be your friend or family, the more you will see their posts. 

Ranking the Explore Page

In the Explore Page, users would most likely see different recommended content from accounts you don’t follow yet. Instagram still takes into consideration your past activity, such as likes, comments, saves, etc. 

Ranking Reels 

Lastly, for the Reels, the majority of the content is from accounts you are not following. The signals they use to figure out what is entertaining for people and recommend them are the same as Feed and Explore. The algorithm studies your activity, history and popularity. 

Users are still not happy about it 

Ultimately, though we applaud Instagram for being more transparent, it’s apparent that the Instagram community isn’t happy with how its algorithm’s running. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri’s post on the subject is full of comments bashing the algorithm. For example, some are criticizing the algorithm for hurting small creators and businesses because their followers can’t reliably see their new posts. This is because the feed is full of posts the algorithm recommends to show, thinking that’s what the users want to see. This ultimately lowers creators’ reach.

While Instagram has worked to address some of these issues, there are still many creators who don’t feel supported. We hope that the platform continues to be transparent and continuously listens to its community to improve.