How Does Instagram Choose the Order of Stories?
According to statistics, Instagram stories grow in popularity every year. In January 2019, around half a billion people interacted via Stories. This is 100,000 more than in June 2018, and the trend continues to rise.
If you use this feature, you are probably wondering who watches your stories and why are stories posted by certain people and profiles first in your story feed. Believe it or not, Instagram is smarter than you think.
A Smart Algorithm
Some years before, Instagram switched from a chronological feed to a different algorithm based on machine learning. This machine learning helps Instagram determine which profiles may appeal to you more than others.
The algorithm tracks the profiles that you are ‘closest to’ – your friends and family whose pictures you often like and comment on, or who you talk to via direct messages. A similar method applies to the order of the stories too. The people you interact with the most or whose stories you always like to see appear first.
Is Algorithm for Stories the Same?
Despite their similarities, Instagram’s Stories algorithm is different from their feed algorithm. The main difference is that, with Stories, Instagram looks for “signals”. These signals are patterns of your behavior. Once it defines the signals, the algorithm adapts to your way of using this app.
Some signals are:
If you manually search the same profile every day, for example, it means that you are interested in it. It can be your friend, partner, crush, celebrity, or a brand you like. If you follow it for some time, Instagram will know. It will try to give their stories priority.
Interaction is the relationship between your profile and all the other profiles that you follow. If you frequently exchange likes, comments, and direct messages with them, your interaction is stronger.
Based on the strength of your interaction, Instagram will move these profiles higher on the ‘pecking order’ of stories. The logic is simple – you are more likely to watch a story posted by a person that you are constantly interacting with.
Instagram sometimes orders the stories from the newest to the oldest. However, an old story posted by someone you interact with or are interested in gains priority compared to content from profiles you aren’t interested in.
You always tap the same profile’s stories once you open the app. After a while, you will notice that it is always first on your Stories feed. It doesn’t matter when the profile uploaded the story – until you watch it, it will be the first in your feed. This is because Instagram relies on past experiences and tries to assume whose fresh stories you can’t wait to see.
With these factors taken into consideration by the algorithm, Stories become more interesting. If you are seeing someone that you’re interested in regularly watching your stories, it means that the algorithm set you up due to similar interests and online behaviors.
How Does Instagram Order Who Watches Your Stories?
It’s fun when you post a story and then check who viewed it every now and then. As the day passes, you will see more and more people looking at your story. Some will rise to the top and some will go down.
You will often see the same people on the top of your viewer list even though there are hundreds of others watching your stories. Why does this happen? It all has to do with Instagram’s algorithm.
The Algorithm is Similar to the Feed
The viewer list works similar to the Stories feed. If you interact more with some profiles than others, they will be on the top of the list. The same applies to shared interests and experience.
Viewers are Based on Your Behavior, Not Vice-Versa
If you see a profile on top of the viewer list, it means that you are interested in it and interact with it often, at least as far as the algorithm can tell. There was some talk online that seeing the same person on top of your viewer list all the time means that they are “stalking” you, but Instagram’s engineers denied this.
Since Facebook and Instagram are connected, sometimes the profiles you interact with on both social platforms will spike on the viewers list.
Can You Change the Order of the Stories?
Yes, you can influence Instagram’s algorithms and change the order of stories in your feed by behaving differently. The machine learns and adapts to your behavior, so if you don’t want some profiles to appear first on your feed, you should try interacting with them less frequently.
One of the main problems with this algorithm is that after a while it narrows the feed to just a small percent of the profiles that you interact with.
If you want to adjust the algorithm and rearrange your feed, you will have to visit other profiles, interact with other people, and engage with the content they post.