How Does the Instagram Algorithm Work?

The Instagram Creator Week shone the spotlight on how its algorithm works, all the insights may surprise you.

How Does the Instagram Algorithm Work?

Instagram has revealed that they don’t have just one algorithm, in fact there are a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes. Each part of the app – Feed, Explore, Reels – uses its own algorithm tailored to how people use it. Why does Instagram work this way? Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, has explained it’s due to the different uses and intentions of each area. For example, people tend to look for their closest friends in Stories, but they want to discover something entirely new in Explore.

Here are the most important signals for each area, as shared by Instagram:

Feed and Stories

  • Information about the post. These are signals both about how popular a post is – think how many people have liked it – and more mundane information about the content itself, like when it was posted, how long it is if it’s a video, and what location, if any, was attached to it.
  • Information about the person who posted. This helps us get a sense for how interesting the person might be to you, and includes signals like how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks.
  • Your activity. This helps us understand what you might be interested in and includes signals such as how many posts you’ve liked.
  • Your history of interacting with someone. This gives us a sense of how interested you are generally in seeing posts from a particular person. An example is whether or not you comment on each other’s posts.

Explore

  • Information about the post. Here we are looking at how popular a post seems to be. These are signals like how many and how quickly other people are liking, commenting, sharing, and saving a post. These signals matter much more in Explore than they do in Feed or in Stories.
  • Your history of interacting with the person who posted. Most likely the post was shared by someone you’ve never heard of, but if you have interacted with them that gives us a sense of how interested you might be in what they shared.
  • Your activity. These are signals like what posts you’ve liked, saved or commented on and how you’ve interacted with posts in Explore in the past.
  • Information about the person who posted. These are signals like how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks, to help find compelling content from a wide array of people.

Reels

  • Your activity. We look at things like which reels you’ve liked, commented on, and engaged with recently. These signals help us to understand what content might be relevant to you.
  • Your history of interacting with the person who posted. Like in Explore, it’s likely the video was made by someone you’ve never heard of, but if you have interacted with them that gives us a sense of how interested you might be in what they shared.
  • Information about the reel. These are signals about the content within the video such as the audio track, video understanding based on pixels and whole frames, as well as popularity.
  • Information about the person who posted. We consider popularity to help find compelling content from a wide array of people and give everyone a chance to find their audience.

This latest update shared even more exciting news, Adam highlighted that this is the first in a series of posts designed to shed a light on how the Instagram technology works. So we should soon have more insights and questions answered.

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