How does the Instagram algorithm work? Explained by the creators
Instagram has decided to bet on transparency and “shed light” on the operation of its mysterious algorithm. To do this, its creators have published an article on their blog that aims to answer the question that many of us ask ourselves: How does Instagram decide what content to show its users when they visit the application? If you want to know the Answer, don’t miss this article!
How does the Instagram algorithm work?
According to the creators of Instagram, one of the first misconceptions they wanted disproving with this publication is the existence of “the algorithm”. Instagram does not have a single algorithm that monitors everything that people see and do not see in the application, but rather uses a variety of algorithms , classifiers and processes, each with its own purpose. The goal is to use technology to personalize the user experience and thus save you more time.
When Instagram was first launched in 2010, users could see all the photos posted by their contacts in order chronological. But as more users joined and shared more content, most users were unable to see all of the published content, and that means that posts that were important to them were lost. In 2016, users were already missing 70% of their feed content, including almost half of the posts from their closest contacts. For this reason, Instagram decided to incorporate a system to classify and order content based on user preferences.
Today, according to data from the creators of Instagram, most users look at less than half of their feed. In addition, over the last few years, Instagram has been including other functionalities, such as Stories and Reels.
The habits and content consumption preferences of Instagram users vary depending on the site of the application they are in. For this reason, Instagram has been adapting its ways of ordering content on different sites of the application. This explains why we do not find a single algorithm, but rather different content classification systems, that is, the application classifies content in different ways on different application sites.
Finally, The creators of Instagram have clarified that their explanations have an expiration date, that is, that the Instagram algorithms will continue to evolve and change over time, but they will always report these changes. Its aim is to put an end to rumors by allowing users to obtain this information directly from the source.
How does the Instagram algorithm adapt to different functionalities of the app?
Feed and Stories
In Feed and Stories, users prefer to see content from their friends, family or people they follow on the app. To sort this content, the Instagram algorithm takes into account information about the publication itself (that is, the moment of publication and popularity) and about the person who publishes it, especially on the basis of interactions with it (I like , comments, direct messages, etc.).
The explore tab is designed for Instagram users to discover new content , so the approach is different from Feed and Stories.
Instead of focusing on the people the user follows, the app takes into account how relevant the topics and content of a post are to a particular user and how people with similar interests to yours have interacted with Instagram posts. The objective of the Instagram algorithm in this case is to expand the network of things to show the user.
The Instagram algorithm for Reels has in counts aspects such as likes, comments and shares in order to determine the interest of a content for users. The objective is to show content that makes the user continue to interact.
As you can see, the treatment given to the content varies greatly depending on the place of the Instagram application where it is displayed. The obvious conclusion is that we have to adapt our content to take full advantage of the different functionalities of Instagram and improve our visibility.
How does the Instagram algorithm decide which content to show first?
According to the creators of Instagram, the application uses a series of “ signals ” to determine the order in which each post is displayed. These are the most important signals, “more or less in order of importance”:
Information about the publication . These signals are related to the popularity of a post, for example, the number of people who have “liked”, the time it was published, the duration (in the case of videos) and the location, if it has been chosen to add it.
Information about the person who publishes . These signals help Instagram to assess the interest of a user for a specific person, and include, for example, how many times two users have interacted with each other in the last weeks.
Your activity . These signals help Instagram understand what topics a particular user is interested in and include, for example, posts that this user has “liked”.
Your history of interactions with a specific person . These signals allow Instagram to assess whether you are interested in seeing the posts of a particular person and include, for example, if you leave comments on their posts.
Based on all these signals, Instagram predicts how the user will interact with a post, for example liking or commenting. The more likely the user is to interact and the more Instagram values this interaction, the first the post will appear.
Finally, the creators of Instagram have also responded to accusations of silencing certain content and have stated that in the future they will better explain why a content is removed . For example, they are developing in-app notifications that will explain to users why their post has been removed.