[Explained] Instagram Ranking: How Your Posts, Feed, Stories and Reels Are Ranked

Instagram finally explains its process to rank content on Feed, Reels and even Stories for its users.

  • Instagram focuses on Feeds, Stories and Reels for ranking
  • Instagram uses different processes to analyse the content
  • It delivers content to your feed based on the preferences

Instagram is popular for not just posting photos but also has Stories, which lets you chat with friends and follow celebrities. The main Instagram Feed also has become the hub for Reels which are short videos like TikTok. Over the years people have tried to crack the formula of getting their posts ranked on Instagram, with many of you trying out different tricks that can be hit or miss.

But now, Instagram has taken an effort to explain its process of ranking, be it your posts, Stories or making your content visible on others’ feeds. Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri has taken out the time to list these tips and explained the process the platform follows to make the content reach a wider audience with better ranking. 

Ranking on Instagram: How It Works 

As explained by Mosseri in this post, Instagram is not relying on just one algorithm to define the content a person sees on their feed. He also talks about needing different processes to define content such as Feeds, Stories, Explore, Reels and even Search on Instagram. Their use of technology is based on the need to derive the best-personalised experience for each user. Now, we look at the different aspects of ranking that Instagram offers: 

Ranking of Feeds On Instagram 

Feed is the main hub from which you get access to different content on Instagram and also stay updated with the latest from your friends who you follow.

But the platform has made a habit of showing content based on your recommendations which Instagram thinks you will like, and yes, ads will also be there.

Now, the main aspect of ranking on Feed is based on the kind of content you watch from the people you follow. Instagram takes note of your interests and keeps an eye on what kind of content you consume, also the kind of people who follow you or vice versa. Here’s how Instagram personalises the Feed for its users: 

  • Your interests – It tracks the post you have liked, shared or even saved to understand the basic interests of the user. 
  • Going deep into the post – Now that Instagram knows the kind of content that interests you, it will try to gauge the popularity of the post, the date of the post and even the location if that data is available.
  • Knowing the person who posted – It goes without saying that any identity of a post is incomplete without studying the person behind it. Knowing these details helps Instagram determine the kind of people you might be interested in seeing on the Feed.

The details given by Instagram are nothing out of the blue, and it is mostly how we have assumed the platform has been building content visibility to your Feed. In fact, you might have seen a small note under each post saying, ‘You followed content from X profile, or liked content from Y profile.’ Datasets like these have helped Instagram build a base of content that might be relevant for your viewing. 

Ranking of Stories on Instagram 

Now that we know a lot more about Feed ranking, it is time to focus on another important feature on Instagram, which is Stories. This content stays active for 24 hours, but in most cases, you end up clicking on the profile rings at the top of the Feed to view the content. Instagram pushes Stories to your feed based on your viewing history, so if you have an account that interests you a lot, Instagram will show you their Stories more often. 

The other criterion for Stories is how engaged you are with the users, in the form of liking their Stories or commenting on chat. And finally, the closeness to the person, and determine if you are connected as friends or family. 

Ranking of Explore on Instagram 

Explore tab shows up when you click on the Search icon from the bottom bar. Explore tab ranking follows a different mechanism which helps Instagram push content based on your preferences. The basis for ranking content on the Explore tab is: 

  • Your own activity in Explore: Instagram monitors the content you have liked or saved or shared after viewing from the Explore tab. If you see a lot of sports content then Instagram will invariably push more sports content on the Explore tab for you. 
  • Getting info on the post: This has more to do with the virality of the content, and how many people have liked, commented or shared it with others. Instagram says these parameters are more important for Explore than the Feed and Stories.
  • Knowing the person who posted: And yes, the Explore tab also needs data on the person who made the post, and how often people interact with the posts from the said account.

Ranking of Reels on Instagram 

And last but not least, Instagram focuses on the ranking process for Reels, the short video content that you see on the Explore tab as well as the dedicated Reels tab. The parameters are not very different from how the Stories and Explore tab is ranked, but here are the details: 

  • Kind of Reels you watch: Instagram focuses on the reels you like watching, have saved and shared with others. Tracking these helps the platform understand the kind of content you would want to see. 
  • Details about the Reels: They try to analyse the content of the Reels, not limited to the story but also the music playing in the background or even the visuals used in the Reels. 
  • The person who posted the Reels: And yes, the platform also goes through the person who is posting the Reels, to see how much engagement their posts get to help you with a wide array of Reels on the Feed.