Algorithm for all occasions: Instagram shared how it ranks the content

The smart content ranking used in Instagram has brought negative attention from users for a long time. Algorithmic feeds, which often hide the posts of friends and show irrelevant posts of random people, annoy more and more the users.

Calls to set up recommendation systems and numerous complaints against algorithms come from all corners of the world-wide web. Instagram listened to its dissatisfied users and decided to open a veil of secrecy and explain how its algorithms work.

According to the CEO Adam Mosseri, Instagram doesn’t have a single algorithm that controls content distribution. Appropriate processes and classifiers are used for various purposes. Therefore, feed, Stories and Reels are formed in different ways.

Feed и Stories

This algorithm considers thousands of signals aimed at filtering out posts of people to whom the user is subscribed. The most important signals are:

  • information about the post: likes, duration (for video), geolocation, and time of publication;
  • information about the author: the frequency of interaction with this account over the past weeks;
  • user activity: the number of posts you have liked;
  • presence of mutual comments.

Based on these metrics, Instagram tries to guess which content will be preferred in the feed. The main thing here is how likely the user will be interested in the suggested post and spend at least a few seconds to watch, like, comment, or save it, or click on the profile picture. Along with that, however, the platform tries not to overload your feed with posts from the same user.

Interesting and Reels 

The main factor that ranks the “Interesting” section content is the number of likes, saves and reposts. But unlike Stories, it also considers how popular the content is among all users.

For Reels, more emphasis is placed on how entertaining the content is. To obtain this information, the platform uses feedback, i.e. it conducts polls, etc.

Can I affect the content in my feed?

The best way to optimize your ranking algorithm is to interact with accounts and individual posts:

  • try to hide posts you aren’t interested in;
  • choose close friends who can view your Stories;
  • mark recommendations as uninteresting.

A few words about safety

Content that conflicts with community rules cannot be prioritized. Posts that would fall under the definition of “ambiguous” and “inappropriate” don’t get to the “Interesting” section.

If the content is found to be misleading, an appropriate caption will appear below in the feed and in Stories. If a user publishes such posts on a regular basis, their content will be almost impossible to find.

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