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Head of Instagram Explains How Instagram Ranking Works

This week, the Head of Instagram took to his page to explain exactly how Instagram ranking works and what Instagram’s algorithms look for when it comes to showing your content.

Posted 9 months ago
instagram ranking explained

Written by

Mackenzie Taylor
Posted 9 months ago
This week, the Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri took to his Instagram (yes, with his classic necklace in place) to talk all about how the Instagram algorithm (or algorithmS) works and what it looks for when it comes to Instagram ranking.
In the Reel, Mosseri goes through all the different things that Instagram’s various algorithms rank when it comes to pushing content in front of people’s faces—and debunks the different myths that have been popping up over the years when it comes to the mysterious “algorithm.”

Jump to a section ✨

  1. How Instagram ranks the Feed


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A post shared by Adam Mosseri (@mosseri)

How Instagram ranks the Feed

When it comes to your feed, Instagram knows that a personalized feed is what is going to keep people on its platform. The content that you will see on your feed is from friends, family, and the people you engage with the most.
instagram feed ranking
So what they recommend to you is things that the feed algorithm thinks you’ll enjoy and it’s all based on signals you give the feed. Other things that factor into what you see at the top of your feed are how recent a post is, what you’ve engaged with recently, and your relationship with the person who posted.
However, some signals are more important than others and these are the main ones to think about when it comes to the IG algorithm:

Your activity

These are the posts that you have liked, shared, saved, and/or commented on.

Information about the post

This helps Instagram figure out how popular the post actually is. If it’s a popular post, they are going to end up showing it to more people! Info about the post includes: how many people engaged with it when it was posted, and where the photo is located if that’s added.

Information about the person who posted

Instagram will push content higher if the person who posted is someone who you’re actually interested in and engage with often.

Your history of interacting with someone

Again, this indicates to Instagram if you actually like the person or not and if you want to see their content consistently.
While those are the biggest signals for Instagram, other things they look out for when you’re scrolling your feed are:
Time spent looking, commenting, liking, sharing, or tapping into a profile from a post on your feed. The more likely you are to actually engage and interact with a photo, the higher it will show up on your feed.

How Instagram ranks Stories

instagram story ranking
When you first open Instagram, how in the world do they choose whose Stories first show up on your feed right away? Again, similar to the feed, Instagram uses a series of signals that indicate whether or not you will want to see someone’s Story and actually engage with it. These main signals are:

Viewing history

This is how often you have looked at someone’s Story previously, as this tells IG that you like their Stories and want to see them more often.

Engagement history

This indicates how often you engage with an account’s Story by sending them a DM or a like.


How close are you to the person? Are they a friend or family? This will indicate to Instagram that you are more likely to want to watch their Stories.
Again, based on a combination of those signals, Instagram will do its best to figure out which ones you want to see and will show those Stories to you first.

How Instagram ranks Explore

The Explore page (Instagram’s very own FYP) is a place where you’ll find lots of different posts and videos that are specifically made of things they think you’ll enjoy—from people you don’t yet follow.
explore on IG rank
There are a variety of ways that Instagram chooses the content they showcase on the Explore page and, again, signals they look out for like:

Information about the post

On this, they are looking at how popular a post is. How many people are liking it, how quickly people are liking, commenting, sharing, and saving the post. According to Instagram, this is the biggest signal for the Explore page.

Your activity in Explore

This is the type of content that you personally have liked, shared, commented on, or generally interacted with in the past. So if there are certain posts that you interact with the most, it will populate those types of posts for you in the Explore tab.

Your history of interacting with the person

If you have ever interacted with the person previously, Instagram will more than likely show you their content again on your Explore page.

Information about the person who posted

This is information like how many people have interacted with that person’s content recently to help IG share the most compelling content with you.

How Instagram ranks Reels

The majority of videos you are going to see on Reels are going to be from accounts you don’t follow, much like the Explore tab. Similar to Explore, IG uses specific signals to determine whether or not to show you certain posts.
instagram reels
In order of importance, these are the signals that Instagram looks out for when it determines which Reels to push to you:

Your activity

Duh, what types of Reels are you engaging with before? What Reels are you liking, commenting on, sharing, and overall engaging with? These are the signals that help IG understand what you want to see.

Your history of interacting with the person who posted

If you’ve ever interacted with someone on Reels before, there is a higher chance of you seeing their content pop up on your Reels again.

Information about the Reel

This information includes the visuals in the video, the popularity of the video, and the audio track they have used in the video.

Information about the person who posted

Vanity metrics! Yes, those. If the person has a large number of followers or a certain amount of engagement on their posts, IG will show it to even more people.

How to control what you see on Instagram?

One of the biggest things from the video that we all learned is essentially how to help Instagram show you the content that you are actually interested in. And guess what? It’s really easy!
  • Add friends to your favorites list. This lets Instagram know that you want to see their content more often and their posts will appear higher in your feed.
  • Snooze recommendations if you’re tired of seeing them or have no interest in seeing content on your feed from people you don’t follow.
  • Mute people you’re not interested in! Even better yet, unfollow them.
  • You might not want to but respond to the questionnaires that pop up on Instagram. It wants to know what you like so let them know!
  • Start using the “not interested” button when it comes to content that is served to you through ads or suggestions. This helps Instagram know what you’re actually wanting to see.
Want to learn more about the Instagram algorithm and how to rank higher on it? Click here to learn even more tips and tricks! And stay ahead and always be consistent with your content by scheduling your Instagram content in advance—because what’s the point of people following you if you’re not consistent? Click the banner below to start a 7-day FREE trial with Flick and start scheduling all of your content.

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How Instagram ranks the Feed

How Instagram ranks Stories

How Instagram ranks Explore

How Instagram ranks Reels

How to control what you see on Instagram?

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