Instagram will not bring back its reverse chronological feed, so you might as well get used to its algorithm and understand how it works. So you can beat it of course.
Each time you view your Instagram feed, you miss around 70% of all posts. Even worse, 50% of your friends’ posts (non-brand posts) will never make it onto your feed. And that is because, in July 2016, Instagram ditched its reverse chronological feed to let an algorithm decide what should be shown instead.
There was some backlash, obviously, but the new algorithm works. Instagram says relevancy has drastically improved and users now see more of “what they like.” As a result, users are spending more time on the app. It’s a win-win, right?
Except that brands have been left out, and because no-one really knew how the Instagram algorithm worked, no-one has really managed to beat it yet. This might be just about to change. Instagram has decided to come forward and explain how its feed algorithm works, what recipe it uses to determine which posts should be seen first in your feed.
The Instagram Algorithm Explained
Like most apps, Instagram relies on machine learning to create a unique feed for each user. It is indeed your actions on the app that dictate how your experience will be. Even if you follow the same accounts as someone else, your experience will still be different; based on how you have interacted with those accounts in the past.
According to a recent TechCrunch article, three main factors determine what you see in your Instagram feed:
- Interest: How much Instagram predicts you’ll care about a post, with higher ranking for what matters to you, determined by past behavior on similar content and potentially machine vision analyzing the actual content of the post.
- Recency: How recently the post was shared, with prioritization for timely posts over weeks-old ones.
- Relationship: How close you are to the person who shared it, with higher ranking for people you’ve interacted with a lot in the past on Instagram, such as by commenting on their posts or being tagged together in photos.
Beyond those core factors, three additional signals also influence rankings:
- Frequency: How often you open Instagram, as it will try to show you the best posts since your last visit.
- Following: If you follow a lot of people, Instagram will be picking from a wider breadth of authors so you might see less of any specific person.
- Usage: How long you spend on Instagram determines if you just see the best posts during short sessions, or it’s digging deeper into its catalog if you spend more total time browsing.
Instagram also confirmed (again) that it will not bring back its reverse chronological feed. The company thinks it would add an extra layer of complexity and that the algorithm has done a great job at improving the user experience.
And if you think it has kept you from enjoying the full experience of seeing every single post shared by your friends or brands, worry not: Instagram has confirmed that it does not hide any post. That means that if you keep on scrolling, you will eventually go through every new post that has been shared since you last visited the app.
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