What Does The Order of Likes on Instagram Mean?

This is an interesting topic to cover with a straightforward answer. A great thing about online technology is that it gives us so much information. 

By noting and analyzing the interactions of the things you share, you can make better creative decisions in the future.

Whether it’s a personal account or one for business, these metrics are the feedback to measure your performance.

People can say that they don’t really care about likes, shares, and followers, which might be true, but I find that to be a little misguided.

I mean if you’re on social media and you’re posting something, that has to be for other people to see, right?

I think people say they don’t care about the engagement because they are trying to say it’s not tied to their self-worth.

That, I can totally get behind. You shouldn’t base your entire self-worth on any one aspect of your life, especially if it’s beyond your control.

At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with feeling a little smug, ecstatic, or disappointed after checking how your posts are doing.

If you are making full use of digital marketing though, a little detachment goes a long way.

Enough preaching though! Let’s quickly go through the answer and get some context to deepen our understanding.

In short: The order of the likes you see on Instagram is based on your own activity, interactions, and engagement, among a few other factors. 

Why Do The Likes Matter?

Likes, comments, shares, and other interactions can tell when something is working, and when it isn’t. They can’t tell you the reason behind it though, that we have to figure out ourselves. 

So the more information you have to work with, the better. The fact that you can see the full list of likes, and even check out the profiles can really go a long way to helping you understand your audience. 

With a better understanding, you can improve your creatives for better results. But you knew that already, what’s the big deal about the order of likes?

You see, before 2016, all likes were simply shown chronologically, which means the people who liked first, were listed on top (or bottom). 

Once you see how the likes are ordered on Instagram now with the reasons below, you can gain a much better understanding of the platform.

Instagram simply shows you the likes you might want to see first.

What Does The IG Likes Order Mean?

If you’ve ever posted anything on Instagram, I mean what are you doing here if you haven’t, then you know that people can engage with your posts in different ways. 

Simple explanations can help everyone be on the same page, and there’s already enough confusion about online things nowadays. So let me start by defining our terms simply.

Viewers can appreciate a post by “liking” it or pressing the heart-shaped icon below the post.

They can also comment by tapping the talk bubble icon, and share things via direct messages (DMs) and stories by pressing the paper airplane icon. 

If you see right below the three icons, each post displays the number of people that have liked it. Whether it’s a photo, a video, or a reel, anyone can see the number of likes it’s gotten.

If you tap on this number, the full list of the people that have liked the post will be shown. These names will be displayed in a certain order, kind of like a ranking. 

Basically, Instagram wants to show you the people that might be the most relevant to you instead of a random list of strangers.

But how does it decide which people actually rank the highest? What factors does it depend on? That’s what I’ll cover next.

How Does The Instagram Likes Algorithm Work?

Instagram has not actually shared this information through official channels. A few different interviews and Q&As have given us some info to work with though. 

So while we do not know the exact weights of each factor, I’ve done some research based on the info I’ve gathered from these interviews, as well as some experimentation and personal experience of my own. 

Here’s what I’ve found; Instagram ranks the order of your likes based on the following factors:

1. Your Interactions

First and foremost, this one is stated by high-ranking IG staff as the most important factor: The list of likes displayed on your account is based on your account’s activity itself. 

So, the people you’re following, the ones you send memes to regularly, the profiles you’re visiting regularly, the stories that you view most often. These are the people that you will see at the very top.

This info was released in response to a trending rumor that you can see your stalkers at the top of your stories.

On the contrary, you are more likely to see the people you are stalking instead.

2. Rate of Engagement

Other than your own activity with your followers, how followers engage with you is also taken into account by the algorithm. If you are engaging with two people equally, the one who engages back with you more will be higher on the order of likes.

That makes sense, doesn’t it? The app just wants to give us more of what we want.

If we engage with some people more than others, we like engaging with them and want to do more of it.

If someone else does the same with us, we would want to connect with them even more deeply.

As people have more online friendships than in real life, these protocols help keep the platform true to its purpose. 

Accounts that tag each other, mention each other in their stories, exchange memes, and do all kinds of mutual interactions are going to list each other higher on their respective list of ordered likes.

3. Networking Factors

While the first two points were indirectly confirmed through Instagram itself, the next ones are based on the experiences of experts.

These should be taken with a grain of salt as it’s essentially an educated guess.

Things like mutual friends and other network connections also seem to affect the order of likes.

So, if two accounts have common followers/mutual friends and interact with similar posts and pages, they are more likely to be higher on each other’s likes list.

Some people have tested this and found it to be true.

4. Number of Followers

Okay, but what about other lists of likes? What if none of my followers like something, how does it work in that case? Well, things like legitimacy are definitely taken into account.

What I mean is, other accounts that are very active, that have followers, posts, and more interactions in general, are going to be listed higher.

This is because we generally like to see other human beings on social media, instead of faceless accounts.

In that vein, verified accounts and blue ticks are also given priority. Also, the more popular an account is, the higher it is likely to be on the list.

5. Other Social Media Connections

Reportedly, connections with people through Facebook can also make a difference. That makes sense since Facebook is currently Instagram’s mother company. 

Honestly, it feels like we are scraping the bottom of the barrel with this list now. I think the first few points pretty much gave you the whole idea.

I’m going to stop at five points, because we like odd numbers, now that I’ve covered the matter thoroughly.

In Conclusion

The order of likes on Instagram is determined by your interactions, engagement, and your followers’ activity.

The app then calculates how much you might want to see a profile and lists them on the top. 

Ultimately, this is just a quality-of-life improvement for the platform and a welcome one at that.

I hope that learning about this topic gave you a better understanding of Instagram as a whole and what the company aims to do with it.

You can now use this improved understanding to engage with the platform in more meaningful ways!

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