Back in 2016, Instagram changed the way users saw the photos in their feed. They claimed that this was because users were missing around 70 percent of the photos that were posted. They switched from a chronological feed to a feed that was driven by an algorithm, in hopes that users would see more relevant content. Not much was known about how this algorithm worked, however. At the time, Instagram said that the new order of the photos was based on a user’s relationship with the person posting, when the photo was posted, and the odds that the user would be interested in the content.
Since implementing the algorithm, Instagram has seen a huge jump in engagement. This would suggest that their algorithm is actually working as intended: users really are seeing more of the content that interests them. Fast forward to today, and the inner workings of the algorithm have been revealed. In the summer of 2018, Instagram finally explained how it all worked — and confirmed many users’ long-held suspicions.
How Instagram decides which photos to show you first
1. Instagram wants to show you posts from people you engage with
Before the algorithm, users were only seeing about 50 percent of posts from their friends and family. Now they’re seeing about 90 percent of posts. That’s a huge jump. But it all depends on who you engage with, too. If you never comment on or like posts from your crazy uncle, then you’ll likely see fewer posts from your crazy uncle.
Whenever you like a post, you’re basically saying that this content interests you and you want to see more of it. If you want to see more posts by a particular brand or account, consider engaging with their content more. This will help to make sure that their photos are prioritized in your feed.
2. Instagram chooses photos based on your behavior
How do you interact with others on Instagram? This is a big force behind the new algorithm. It pays attention to which brands you like, which posts you like, and even what type of content you like. So, the photos that Instagram shows you first depend a lot on how you’ve behaved in the past. It also takes into consideration how often you look at Instagram to determine which accounts or photos to prioritize.
3. Instagram wants to show you recent posts
Instagram still takes into account when a photo was posted. In fact, they recently adjusted the algorithm to factor this aspect more. So each time you log in to Instagram now, you should be seeing a lot more recent photos. However, if you don’t log in all that often, you’ll likely see older posts first.