Decoding the Instagram Feed algorithm

Have you ever wondered how the mysterious Instagram algorithm works? Well, we have. MANY times… we’re about to dive deep into the enchanting world of algorithmic sorcery. Instagram recently spilt the beans on how they rank content, and we’re here to break it down for you in plain and simple terms. So let’s uncover the secrets together!

First things first, Instagram wants to make it clear that they don’t rely on just one algorithm to determine what shows up on your feed. No, no, my friends, they use different algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own special purpose. Each section of the app, like Feed, Stories, Explore, Reels, and Search, has its own unique algorithm tailored to how you use it. Whether you’re looking for friends’ Stories or discovering new creators in Explore, Instagram has a special formula for each area. Today, we are going to talk about the Feed.

The Feed serves up a mix of content from the accounts we follow, recommended posts, and, of course, those sneaky ads (we might have contributed in that area 🤭). But how does Instagram decide what to show you?

Step 1: Defining what to rank

Instagram looks at recent posts from the accounts you follow and also suggests posts from accounts you don’t follow but might interest you. They consider factors like your previous interactions, such as follows, likes, and comments, to personalize your experience.

Step 2: Analysing the “signals”

Instagram takes into account various details about the posts, the creators of those posts, and your preferences. They even pay attention to the type of content you prefer, like photos or videos. These details are called “signals,” and apparently there are thousands of them, including post popularity and your usage patterns. According to Instagram, the most important signals across Feed are:

Your activity. Posts you’ve liked, shared, saved or commented on help us understand what you might be interested in.

Information about the post. These are signals both about how popular a post is – think how many people have liked it and how quickly people are liking, commenting, sharing and saving a post – and more mundane information about the content itself, like when it was posted, and what location, if any, was attached to it.

Information about the person who posted. This helps us get a sense for how interesting the person might be to you, and includes signals like how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks.

Your history of interacting with someone. This gives us a sense of how interested you are generally in seeing posts from a particular person. An example is whether or not you comment on each other’s posts.


Step 3: Making predictions:

Based on all the gathered information, Instagram makes guesses about how likely you are to interact with a post. They consider actions like spending time on a post, commenting, liking, sharing, or tapping on the profile photo. The more likely you are to engage, the higher the post will appear in your feed.

But wait, there’s more! Instagram is always working on their algorithm to ensure they serve you the content you’ll enjoy. They take into account user feedback and continuously update the signals and predictions to deliver a better experience. How nice of them!

To be more transparent, Instagram has shared guidelines on the types of content they may rank lower in your feed. They aim to avoid promoting posts that violate community guidelines, dubious content flagged by fact-checkers, and posts that are likely to be reported.

So there you have it! The Instagram algorithm may seem complex, but it’s all about tailoring your experience based on your interests, interactions, and the content you engage with. If you want to know more about the secrets of social media, let’s have a chat!

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