Instagram dropped the reverse chronological feed for an algorithm in July 2016 as its users were missing 70 percent of all posts and 50 percent posts of their friends. Instagram believes that relevancy sorting has helped it to gain an all-time 800 million-plus users. Relevancy sorting allows users to see 90 percent posts from their friends, which make them spend more time on the app. Instagram has never revealed how its algorithm works. But, it decided to reveal the Instagram feed ranking algorithm by assembling a group of reporters at its new under-construction office in San Francisco. Julian Gutman explains how the algorithm works
Criteria Of The Algorithm
Instagram creates a unique feed for everyone. It relies on machine learning based on your past behavior. It means, users following the exact same accounts will get different feeds based on how they interact with those accounts.
Three main factors decides what you see in your Instagram feed:
1. Interest: You will love posts if Instagram predicts what matters to you the most. It makes predictions based on your past behavior on the similar content by analyzing the actual content of the post through machine learning.
2. Recency of the post: How recent the post is, by prioritizing timely posts over weeks-old ones.
3. Relationship: How close you are to the person who shared the post. Rankings are higher for people you have interacted with a lot in the past on Instagram. Interactions refer to being tagged in photos or commenting on posts.
Apart from these three base factors, there are three additional signals affecting rankings:
1. Frequency: Instagram will try to show you the best posts depending on how often you open the app. It will show you the best posts since your last visit.
2. Following: Instagram will automatically pick some posts from particular accounts if you follow a lot of people. So, you might see few posts of any specific person.
3. Usage: Instagram also shows the posts depending on how long you spend time on the app. If you are having short sessions on the app, you will come up with the best posts. If you are spending more time on the app, it will show you posts by going deeper into its catalog.
Instagram’s myths answered
Instagram’s team also responded to many FAQs regarding how its feed works. Instagram do not want to consider the old reverse chronological feed at this time. It adds more complexity. But, at the same time it is considering opinions from users who dislike the algorithm. Instagram does not hide any posts. You can find everything posted by everyone you follow if you keep scrolling the feed. Feed ranking does not consider video over photo format or vice versa. But, people’s feeds are designed based on what type of content they engage with. So, if you never watch any videos, you will see fewer of them in your feed. Feed ranking does not favor users using Live, Stories, or other special features of the app. Instagram’s feed does not favor users posting rapidly. But sometimes, it might move its position due to other frequent posts. Instagram’s feed does not rank business accounts over personal accounts or vice versa. So, switching your account won’t help your reach.
Shadowbanning is just a myth. Instagram never hides people’s content for posting too many hashtags or taking other actions. After Instagram unveiled how its algorithm works, all misunderstandings regarding its algorithm will be cleared. Also, people will be able to create their audience and see great content whenever they open the app. The problem of competition still resides as more users and businesses are joining Instagram. Because of this, people will complain that Instagram is trying to force them to buy ads. But, it is natural because of competition.
Instagram can solve this problem by educating its users about how its algorithm works. Facebook never explained its users how its feed works. Let’s hope Instagram does this regularly.