Many believe that Instagram ranks story views order based on the profiles that visit (or stalk) your account the most. However, the truth is a bit more complicated. More on that below.
Instagram Stories was a game-changing feature as it transformed people’s way of perceiving this photo-based app. It has helped Instagram skyrocket its success. For good reasons.
Do you use Instagram on a regular basis? If yes, then chances are high that you’ve wondered how they sort out the viewers’ ranking on the Story’s ‘seen’ list. I mean, let’s face it – after uploading a story, we check back every half an hour to see who’s viewed it. In fact, it’s next to impossible to let 24 hours go by without checking back religiously.
The ranking feature of the story has given birth to some very interesting questions. For instance, why does your crush always near the top? What’s the ranking even supposed to mean?
How do Instagram Ranks Story Views Order?
In June 2016, Instagram focused highly on serving people more of what they liked seeing. Back then it was chronological. But now, Instagram users are seeing more content from people they’ve engaged with the most.
For a long time, people have assumed that the viewers nearing the top of the list are the ones interacting with your IG profile the most. While not completely wrong, that’s not the entire picture as well.
Facebook may also have role to play. Yes, that’s right, your engagement outside of IG, on parent app Facebook, may also take part in placing viewers to the top of that list. While it still is an assumption up until now, it sure makes sense.
The Reddit Experiment
There are many claims floating on the internet. After going through an experiment, one Reddit user said in this thread that the people nearing the top are those who visit your Instagram account the most. These people don’t also have to interact with your content by dropping likes and comments. If they stalk your account often enough, they’ll keep appearing first.
To try this experiment out, some Reddit users made fake IG accounts and delved into their prime profile multiple times using their accounts without dropping any likes, comments or interacting in any other way.
Read If you are interested about the best times to post on Reddit.
Their fake accounts started to appear in the top of their IG story viewer’s list. Sounds weird? Or is it just that Instagram is delving into our stalker-ish propensities?
Let me quote the testers for you:
“So, me and one of my friends tested a small experiment In fact, for a some days, I stalked his profile for a lot of times, every day and told him to avoid visiting my profile altogether. After continuing this for about a week, my friend posted a story and guess what, I was at the top of that list!”.
Another Reddit user said:
“I made another account with a different email and visited my own (original) profile every day frequently. I viewed all my stories a number of times, went right back to the starting of my profile, but didn’t see anything so that it seems like an anonymous visitor. 3 days of strongly checking my original profile, my new account made it to the first in the view list and started dropping when my current top viewer had viewed it.”
The app yet hasn’t, and possibly never will expose the precise algorithm that makes the Story viewers. However, according to Julian Gutman, product lead for IG Home, the people nearing the top of the viewers list is the people you interact with most, and not the vice versa.
That clearly debunks the myth that the people at the top are people stalking and watching your days the most.
Gutman’s words regarding story views order:
“So the answer is, the people that show up on that list are not the people that stalk you the most – it is actually based on your activity and the people that you are closest to”
This entails that viewing a profile frequently can be a reason to make the top of your list – even if you never like a picture. Having your eyeballs on them is also considered interacting.
Yes, you read that right. Instagram’s algorithm reflects likes, comments, messages, and other engagements on the app, and transforms to your sweet will. Ultimately, serving you content that you like to engage with the most.
According to this theory, page views are emphasize in this algorithm as well. So, if you’re going mad thinking why your ex who drops any like on any of your Instagram posts anymore keeps showing up on top, it is because he/she’s stalking you.
Aside from interaction, the people at the top are also dictated by how often you check back. Why?
Because, according to Gutman, “if you check the list multiple times, [the Instagram algorithm] tries to show you a new set of people,”.
And that explains how IG ranks your story viewers.
But what does it imply when users who you haven’t seen ever before show up at the top of that list?
The reason behind this is probably Instagram’s ‘timeliness’ aspect. This thing tries to put emphasis on latest posts, so you are less likely to witness old posts, even they’re posted by your most-loved profiles.
It’s there to serve you new and fresh content since the last time you delved into Instagram.
Others think the ranking is chronological for the first fifty people. So, your ranking will be made basing on who tapped to view your story first. But just when you reach the 50 viewers mark, the algorithm changes.
The 3 Signals
Paige Thelen, a working member of Instagram’s tech communications team, told Social Media Week that there are 3 considerations when determining who ends up ranking where, including the timing of your post, the relation towards the person and how much they think they will like the story. In Paige’s words:
“Just like the feed, stories are ordered basing on the moments you’ll care about most.”
“The order is made basing on several signals, which includes: 1) The likelihood you will be interested in that content; 2) The timeliness of those posts; and 3) Your relation towards the person posting.
The technology is powered by machine learning, and that adapts according to your behavior and brushes up over the course of time. ”
“Profile visits are taken into consideration, just like Instagram likes and comments.”
That basically entails that, whoever is making it to the top 5 of that list, stalks your account day in day out, although they may not like your posts anymore. That implies that, each time you post a story, you can console your ego that your garbage ex still has strings attached, or that you closest friend is the real close friend they tout to be.
Does the Story Views Order Even Matter?
Isn’t it the right thing to ask? Why ponder over so much about a ranking on some social media… last lasts only 24 hours? Perhaps, the more important question is, does it really matter if it shows your uncle Maurice at the first spot, or one of your high-school exes?
Yes, there can be exceptions. Your need to know the ranking might have a somewhat legit reason behind it. If you’re a business swearing by Instagram engagement, then your need to knowing makes sense as you can start building relationships with those people (or maybe even sell stuff to them)
But, when it comes a normal Instagram user, does this sophisticated ranking make a difference?
Especially when we may never figure out what little tricks IG has been weaving up for this. Perhaps the Story viewers are ranked chronologically until the first 50 people. Perhaps it changes to the most interacted viewers after that. Perhaps. Perhaps.
The only thing we can surely say is that people are super hungry to know the answer of this question. I mean, really, really ravenous and it’s easy to understand why.
A lot of people view the list of who saw their story as an exposure or engagement thing. Getting to the bottom of this algorithm may answer many questions that the average Joe of Instagram is bouncing off. For instance, the evergreen million-dollar question – “Is my ex still interested into me?”
The Wrap Up
After experimenting, Instagram story views order seems to be affected mostly by how many times a person views your stories, even though Instagram officials mentioned it depends mainly on how much certain users engage with your content. Have you seem Instagram ranking your Story views in some specific pattern or order? If yes, then let me know in the comments below.
If you have any questions or opinions, feel free to drop them below and I’d get back to you right away.
About the Author:
Mehedi is a freelance writer/blogger helping businesses grow with red-hot content. You can visit his site PowerhouseBlogger for actionable business tips. And if you want Mehedi to help you with content, you can hit him up on Facebook or Twitter.