How Instagram Works

4 main ranking factors:

Post information. These are signals both about how popular the publication is (if others like it, you may also like it), and about more mundane information about the content itself, for example, when it was published, its length (if we are talking about a video), geolocation, if it is there is.

Profile information. This helps the algorithm how interesting you might be to this person, and includes cues such as how many times people have interacted with this person in the past few weeks.

Your activity. What might interest you and includes signals such as the number of posts you liked.

Your communication history with someone. This gives you an idea of ​​how interested you are generally in the content of a particular profile. Example: Do you comment on each other’s posts.

Based on these points, Instagram makes an assumption as to how much each individual post will be of interest to you specifically.

There are about 12 such factors that influence the probability with which I will see someone else’s post (how can there be about 12, I do not understand, they are either 12 or another number).

There are five types of interactions in the News Feed that the algorithm takes into account the most:

1. The likelihood that you will spend a few seconds posting (reading).
2. Comment on it.
3. Like it.
4. Save it.
5. Tap your profile photo.

The more likely you are to take an action and the higher its value, the more likely you are to see the post. The algorithm is constantly changing, so at some point in time, some actions and reactions can affect the ranking factors more or less.
This confirms previous theories that the most important thing is not the activity on one particular post, but the general history of interactions of one profile with another. These historical interactions affect how many people on average see profile content.
Posts “for the benefit” are always saved the best and get the maximum coverage. Carousel = the post must be flipped, again, the coverage is higher. Text in a post = you definitely read it longer than a regular post = higher chance of reaching.

Make good content interesting to your audience, collect a high-quality audience without giveaways and you will have happiness and reach at the level of 40-50%.

Instagram now has the highest reach of all social networks when it comes to reaching the recruited audience. On no platform can you come close to have coverage of up to 40-50% (sometimes even higher) on each unit of content that you publish, according to your audience.

Therefore, the algorithm knows its business and works well.

Do you have low reach? It’s not about the algorithm, it’s about your content and your audience.

 

Shedding More Light on How Instagram Works

It’s hard to trust what you don’t understand. Instagram wants to do a better job of explaining how Instagram works. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, and Instagram recognizes that Instagram can do more to help people understand what Instagram does. Today, Instagram is sharing the first in a series of posts that will shed more light on how Instagram’s technology works and how it impacts the experiences that people have across the app. This first post tries to answer questions like “How does Instagram decide what shows up for me first?”; “Why do some of my posts get more views than others?”; and “How does Instagram decide what to show me in Explore?”

What is “the algorithm”?

One of the main misconceptions Instagram wants to clear up is the existence of “The Algorithm.” Instagram doesn’t have one algorithm that oversees what people do and don’t see on the app. Instagram uses a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose. Instagram wants to make the most of your time, and Instagram believes that using technology to personalize your experience is the best way to do that.

When Instagram first launched in 2010, Instagram was a single stream of photos in chronological order. But as more people joined and more was shared, it became impossible for most people to see everything, let alone all the posts they cared about. By 2016, people were missing 70% of all their posts in Feed, including almost half of posts from their close connections. So Instagram developed and introduced a Feed that ranked posts based on what you care about most.

Each part of the app – Feed, Explore, Reels – uses its own algorithm tailored to how people use it. People tend to look for their closest friends in Stories, but they want to discover something entirely new in Explore. Instagram ranks things differently in different parts of the app, based on how people use them.

How Instagram ranks Feed and Stories

Over the years Instagram has learned that Feed and Stories are places where people want to see content from their friends, family, and those they are closest to. With any ranking algorithm, how it works can be broken down into steps.

Instagram starts by defining the set of things Instagram plans to rank in the first place. With Feed and with Stories this is relatively simple; it’s all the recent posts shared by the people you follow. There are a few exceptions, like ads, but the vast majority of what you see is shared by those you follow.

Next Instagram takes all the information Instagram has about what was posted, the people who made those posts, and your preferences. Instagram call’s these “signals”, and there are thousands of them. They include everything from what time a post was shared to whether you’re using a phone or the web to how often you like videos. The most important signals across Feed and Stories, roughly in order of importance, are:

  • Information about the post. These are signals both about how popular a post is – think how many people have liked it – and more mundane information about the content itself, like when it was posted, how long it is if it’s a video, 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 activity. This helps us understand what you might be interested in and includes signals such as how many posts you’ve liked.
  • 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.

From there Instagram makes a set of predictions. These are educated guesses at how likely you are to interact with a post in different ways. There are roughly a dozen of these. In Feed, the five interactions Instagram looks at most closely are how likely you are to spend a few seconds on a post, comment on it, like it, save it, and tap on the profile photo. The more likely you are to take an action, and the more heavily Instagram weights that action, the higher up you’ll see the post. Instagram adds and removes signals and predictions over time, working to get better at surfacing what you’re interested in.

There are a few cases where Instagram try’s to take other considerations into account. One example of this is where Instagram try’s to avoid showing too many posts from the same person in a row. Another example is Stories that were “reshared” from Feed: until recently, Instagram values these Stories less, because Instagram has heard consistently that people are more interested in seeing original Stories. But Instagram sees a swell of reshared posts in big moments – everything from the World Cup to social unrest – and in these moments people were expecting their Stories to reach more people than they did, so Instagram stopped.

Instagram always wants to lean towards letting people express themselves, but when someone posts something that may jeopardize another person’s safety, Instagram steps in. Instagram has Community Guidelines that apply not only to Feed and Stories, but to all of Instagram. Most of these rules are focused on keeping people safe. If you post something that goes against our Community Guidelines and Instagram finds it, Instagram takes it down. If this happens repeatedly, Instagram may prevent you from sharing, and eventually Instagram might suspend your account. If you think Instagram made a mistake – and Instagram does make mistakes – you can appeal by following these steps.

Another important case to call out is misinformation. If you post something that third-party fact checkers label as misinformation, Instagram doesn’t take it down, but Instagram does apply a label and show the post lower in Feed and Stories. If you’ve posted misinformation multiple times, Instagram may make all of your content harder to find.

How Instagram ranks Explore

Explore was designed to help you discover new things. The grid is made up of recommendations – photos and videos that Instagram goes out and find for you – which is very different from Feed and Stories, where the vast majority of what you see is from the accounts you follow.

Again, the first step Instagram takes is defining a set of posts to rank. To find photos and videos you might be interested in, Instagram looks at signals like what posts you’ve liked, saved, and commented on in the past. Let’s say you’ve recently liked a number of photos from San Francisco’s dumpling chef Cathay Bi (@dumplingclubsf). Instagram then looks at who else likes Cathay’s photos, and then what other accounts those people are interested in. Maybe people who like Cathay are also into the SF dim sum spot @dragonbeaux. In that case, the next time you open Explore, Instagram might show you a photo or video from @dragonbeaux. In practice, this means that if you’re interested in dumplings you might see posts about related topics, like gyoza and dim sum, without us necessarily understanding what each post is about.

Once Instagram found a group of photos and videos you might be interested in, Instagram then order them by how interested Instagram thinks you are in each one, much like how Instagram ranks Feed and Stories. The best way to guess how interested you are in something is to predict how likely you are to do something with the post. The most important actions Instagram predicts in Explore include likes, saves, and shares. The most important signals Instagram looks at, in rough order of importance, are:

  • Information about the post. Here Instagram is looking at how popular a post seems to be. These are signals like how many and how quickly other people are liking, commenting, sharing, and saving a post. These signals matter much more in Explore than they do in Feed or in Stories.
  • Your history of interacting with the person who posted. Most likely the post was shared by someone you’ve never heard of, but if you have interacted with them that gives us a sense of how interested you might be in what they shared.
  • Your activity. These are signals like what posts you’ve liked, saved or commented on and how you’ve interacted with posts in Explore in the past.
  • Information about the person who posted. These are signals like how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks, to help find compelling content from a wide array of people.

You don’t follow the people you see in Explore, which changes the dynamic when you come across something problematic. If a friend you follow shares something offensive and you see that in your Feed, that’s between you and your friend. If you see something offensive in Explore from someone you’ve never heard of, that’s a different situation.

That’s why, in addition to our Community Guidelines, Instagram has rules for what Instagram recommends in places like Explore. Instagram calls these our Recommendations Guidelines. These include things like avoiding potentially upsetting or sensitive posts, for example, Instagram aims to not show content that promotes tobacco or vaping use in Explore.

How Instagram ranks Reels

Reels is designed to entertain you. Much like Explore, the majority of what you see is from accounts you don’t follow. So Instagram goes through a very similar process where Instagram first source reels Instagram thinks you might like, and then order them based on how interesting Instagram think they are to you.

With Reels, though, Instagram is specifically focused on what might entertain you. Instagram surveys people and ask whether they find a particular reel entertaining or funny, and learn from the feedback to get better at working out what will entertain people, with an eye towards smaller creators. The most important predictions Instagram makes are how likely you are to watch a reel all the way through, like it, say it was entertaining or funny, and go to the audio page (a proxy for whether or not you might be inspired to make your own reel.) The most important signals, roughly in order of importance, are:

  • Your activity. Instagram looks at things like which reels you’ve liked, commented on, and engaged with recently. These signals help us to understand what content might be relevant to you.
  • Your history of interacting with the person who posted. Like in Explore, it’s likely the video was made by someone you’ve never heard of, but if you have interacted with them that gives us a sense of how interested you might be in what they shared.
  • Information about the reel. These are signals about the content within the video such as the audio track, video understanding based on pixels and whole frames, as well as popularity.
  • Information about the person who posted. Instagram considers popularity to help find compelling content from a wide array of people and give everyone a chance to find their audience.

The same Recommendation Guidelines that apply to Explore apply to reels. Instagram also avoids recommending reels for other reasons, such as low-resolution or watermarked reels, or reels that focus on political issues or that are made by political figures, parties, or government officials – or on their behalf.

“Shadowbanning”

People often accuse us of “shadowbanning” or silencing them. It’s a broad term that people use to describe many different experiences they have on Instagram. Instagram recognizes that Instagram haven’t always done enough to explain why Instagram takes down content when Instagram does, what is recommendable and what isn’t, and how Instagram works more broadly. As a result, Instagram understands people are inevitably going to come to their own conclusions about why something happened, and that those conclusions may leave people feeling confused or victimized. That’s never our intention, and Instagram is working hard on improvements here. Instagram also manages millions of reports a day, which means making a mistake on even a small percentage of those reports affects thousands of people.

Instagram also hears that people consider their posts getting fewer likes or comments as a form of “shadowbanning”. Instagram can’t promise you that you’ll consistently reach the same amount of people when you post. The truth is most of your followers won’t see what you share, because most look at less than half of their Feed. But Instagram can be more transparent about why Instagram takes things down when Instagram does, work to make fewer mistakes – and fix them quickly when Instagram does – and better explain how our systems work. Instagram is developing better in-app notifications so people know in the moment why, for instance, their post was taken down, and exploring ways to let people know when what they post goes against our Recommendations Guidelines. Instagram will have more to share soon, and Instagram will also go more in-depth on these topics in this series.

How you can influence what you see

How you use Instagram heavily influences the things you see and don’t see. You help improve the experience simply by interacting with the profiles and posts you enjoy, but there are a few more explicit things you can do to influence what you see.

  • Pick your Close Friends. You can select your close friends for Stories. This was designed as a way to let you share with just the people closest to you, but Instagram will also prioritize these friends in both Feed and Stories.
  • Mute people you’re not interested in. You can mute an account if you’d like to stop seeing what they share, but are hesitant about unfollowing them entirely. This way, people don’t know you’ve muted them.
  • Mark recommended posts as “Not Interested.” Whenever you see a recommendation, whether it’s in Explore or in Feed, you can indicate you are “not interested” in that post. Instagram will do its best not to show you similar recommendations in the future.

Providing more context on how content is ranked, shown, and moderated on Instagram is only part of the equation. There is more Instagram can do to help you to shape your Instagram experience based on what you like. Instagram also needs to continue to improve its ranking technology and, of course, make fewer mistakes. Instagram’s plan is to be proactive about explaining our work across all three areas from here on out. Stay tuned.