How does instagram organize following

How the Instagram Followings and Followers List is Ordered (Sorted) in 2022

If you’ve taken a look at your Instagram Followings and Followers list, you may be wondering how it’s sorted. At first glance, it may be seemingly random, but there’s actually a lot more to it.

In past years, Instagram arranged your followers and following list in order based on who you followed recently. But now, you may be intrigued by seeing certain profiles appear at the top of the list, but others buried deep below. Although Instagram hasn’t officially announced how these lists are precisely ordered, it’s clear that there’s a complex algorithm behind it.

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You may have even “stalked” or closely examined a friend’s profile. By taking a quick glance at their followings and followers list, you may be curious to know why some profiles are at the top of the list while others are at the bottom.

Many Instagram users look at these lists to try and see who’s a recent follower. But you’ll soon realize that this isn’t a reliable method. In fact, there’s a wide variety of factors that determine the order and it’s sorted differently in each list. Let’s get right into it.

How the Instagram Following List is Ordered in 2022

Currently in 2022, for third-party accounts that you’re viewing, Instagram orders the Following list based on mutual interaction. For example, accounts that you often like or receive likes from are prioritized towards the top.

In addition, if you DM each other, comment, tag or frequently visit their profile, the account will appear towards the top of the list. This is true for other accounts you’re viewing, but what about your own?

If you look at your own profile’s Instagram Followings list, you’re now able to sort it. While you can’t do this with other accounts you’re viewing, you can do it with your own while you’re logged in.

Simply click on the Following number on your profile page, and there will be two arrows you can click. This will bring up the “Sort by” feature that will let you sort by the latest or earliest accounts you’ve followed, based on date.

How the Instagram Followers List is Ordered in 2022

There’s a bit more behind the scenes in regards to how the Instagram Followers list is ordered.

For many accounts with less than 200 followers, the Instagram Followers list will be alphabetically ordered by profile names. Not by actual usernames, but by the specific name that’s listed on their profile. If they haven’t entered any name and/or intentionally left it blank, their profile will appear at the very top of the followers list, followed by alphabetically ordered first names.

But this isn’t always the case, even with some accounts that have less than 200 followers. In fact, this is mostly true for older accounts that were created several years ago. Now, if you examine a followers list and you notice it’s seemingly random, Instagram’s algorithm is to blame. Recently, this is actually what we’re seeing happen more often than not.

In 2022, Instagram uses artificial intelligence (AI) and a complex algorithm to determine the order of the followers list. Three important factors are taken into consideration. These include your relationship, relevance and recent interactions.

Simply put, Instagram’s algorithm lists accounts at the top of the followers list that you’re most likely to interact with, based on profiles you most commonly view, message, or DM. If you haven’t necessarily interacted with any of them, Instagram may base the order on shared interests.

How the Instagram Followers List Algorithm Works

While Instagram doesn’t directly communicate specific details on how the followers list is ordered, we’ve spent countless hours researching and analyzing a wide range of accounts and their followers lists. Ultimately, we’ve discovered quite a few factors that determine the order:

People You Follow

If you’re looking at a third-party account such as your friend’s Instagram followers list, you’re most likely to see people you follow appear first. Accounts that you, yourself follow through your own account will be at the top. Instagram shows mutual followers as the most relevant at the top of the list. Simply put, if you follow the same people that your friend follows, you’ll see them first.

2. Interactions

Another important factor that will display certain accounts at the top of the list is based on interaction. An interaction can be a DM, like or comment. For example, if you and another account often likes or comments on the same posts, you’re most likely going to find them at the top of the followers list. Regardless of if you’re following them or not, Instagram will compare your interaction habits and position these accounts first.

3. Mutual Followers

If accounts that follow you and also the person of the followers list that you’re viewing, they will appear towards the top. Even if you don’t follow them back, accounts that follow you and the account you’re spying on will be prioritized.

This is true when the person is being followed by an account that you also happen to follow. When Instagram sees that you’re mutually following the same accounts, it’s a clear indication that you share a similar interest.

4. Accounts that Follow You

Another important factor that Instagram’s algorithm takes into account is the accounts that follow you. If you’re browsing a followers lists, you’ll likely notice accounts that are already following you.

If this is the case, it’s because Instagram assumes you may already be familiar with them. Therefore, they’ll make the accounts that follow you appear towards the top of the list so you have a better chance of viewing their profile and possibly following them shortly thereafter.

5. Accounts that Stalk You

On an account’s followers list, you may assume that other profiles that commonly view yours will appear towards the top. This isn’t true if they simply often view your profile without liking or commenting. However, if they don’t follow you, but sometimes comment or like your posts, they’ll most likely be prioritized towards the top of the followers list.

Simply put, viewing a profile isn’t a sole-indicator that they should appear at the top. But if they interact with you in any other way, it’s an indication to the Instagram algorithm to position them higher than would otherwise be.

6. Accounts That Have Recently Followed You

Instagram accounts that have recently followed your own account is another factor that the algorithm looks at. When you’re viewing a followers list, people that have recently followed you will be prioritized next. Instagram sees this as a clear indicator that they have a connection to you.

Even if you don’t follow the account back, it’s an important variable that shows a connection. Ultimately, this may even lead you to follow them back, which will then tell the algorithm that they should prioritize the account even more.

7. Geo-Location

The actual geo-location of other accounts is another factor that Instagram looks at with their followers list algorithm. An account that shares the same location with your own is given priority. If you check a followers list and there are no other traits you share, the physical location is taken into consideration.

For example, if you’re located in the USA, but the account you’re viewing is UK-based, USA users will appear towards the top of the followers list. However, this is only apparent when the geo-location is somewhat close by; typically by city, state, province or country. Truthfully, geo-location isn’t that big of factor, but it’s still a factor, albeit a small one.

8. Lots of Posts

Accounts with a lot of posts tend to appear towards the top. Even if you don’t have a close connection to them, an account that has a lot of posts shows Instagram that these accounts are very active. Therefore, they will tend to prioritize them above accounts that aren’t used as often. When a person has an account with hundreds or thousands of posts, it indicates users who spend a lot of time on Instagram.

9. Popular Accounts with More Followers and Following

When Instagram sees accounts that have a lot of followers or followings, the algorithm tends to trust them a bit more. Because of this, the most popular accounts, even if you don’t interact with them, are given a higher position than others that have a low follower or following count. In fact, the smallest sized accounts tend to be at the bottom of the followers list.

10. Verified Accounts

Although it’s somewhat hard to explain, we found that verified accounts tend to appear much lower on the followers list than others. You’d think it would be the other way around. However, we always notice verified accounts with lots of followers to appear at the bottom of the list.

While it’s unknown as to why they do this, it seems to always be the case. One possible theory is that Instagram tends to associate verified accounts with “brand” accounts. Therefore, they may assume you don’t want to necessarily interact with brands in the same manner you’d interact with accounts for actual people.

Instagram’s Followings & Followers List Algorithm is Always Changing

The truth of the matter is, Instagram’s algorithm that determines the followings and followers list is always changing. Just last year, the algorithm was completely different than it is today in 2022. While it may seem complicated and a bit contrived, Instagram’s main goal is to keep interaction at an all time high.

Simply put, they want you to stay on the Instagram app as long as possible. It looks good for their advertisers and their overall statistics. That said, the order of the followings and followers list is seemingly based on who Instagram thinks you’ll browse or interact with more often than not. In the end, they want you to be deeply invested in the app for as long as possible.

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How Does Instagram Order Your Following List?

When you check the following list on your Instagram page, you’ll notice that the list has no specific order. You must have wondered at some point how it works. Why isn’t it in the order of the following date? Like you, many Instagram users wonder how the list works and why it works how it works.

Aside from just wanting to know why the list is lined up in that order, sometimes people want to know what others (like their partner, crush, or ex) are up to; who did they recently follow? Is it whom they suspect?

But the order of users never helps the situation. If anything, it causes more confusion; you end up not getting the information you seek. So, how is Instagram’s following list ordered?

Though Instagram hasn’t shown how the list works, we can tell you it is based on an algorithm. You will understand better by the time you’re done reading this article.

Table of Contents

  1. How Is the Instagram Following List Ordered?
    • Factor #1: The People You Follow
    • Factor #2: Interaction With People You Follow
    • Factor #3: Geo-Location
    • Factor #4: Inactiveness of Accounts
    • Factor #5: Number of Posts
  2. How Do Order your Following List on Instagram?
  3. Summary
  4. FAQs

How Is the Instagram Following List Ordered?

Several factors cause the following list to be in a particular order. The key and most relevant characteristics are listed below.

Factor #1: The People You Follow

When going through someone’s following list, you might observe that you have some accounts that are common to your following list, meaning you both follow those accounts.

As a result of the mutual following, these accounts will top the list of the person’s following list.

Sometimes you won’t find the people you follow at the immediate top of someone’s following list. Other algorithm factors with more strength cause this; therefore, the aspect of the mutual following is displaced.

That is why an account you follow might not appear at the top of the person’s following list.

Factor #2: Interaction With People You Follow

The Instagram following list is occasionally arranged based on how you interact with people you follow. Your following list is ordered based on interactions under the condition that you have at least 200 Instagram followers whose accounts you follow back.

The higher your interaction with a particular user, the higher their chances of topping your following list.

When you have regular interactions with other users on Instagram, they will have their names shown at the top of your following list. It doesn’t matter if you follow them or not.

Factor #3: Geo-Location

As we mentioned earlier, your account’s follower and following list on Instagram is not listed in the same order. In the past, the list was arranged in order of occurrence, that is, in chronological order.

Chronological ordering is no longer the case. Instagram has made adjustments. The algorithm is structured in a way that causes the following list to stop displaying in order of occurrence.

Location can influence the algorithm of a person’s following list. The chances of an account with a location closer to yours appearing at the top of someone’s following list are high compared to one that is not.

Let’s assume you’re checking the following list of someone in Canada, and you live in the US. If they have followers they follow back who are based in the US in a location close to yours; their account will most likely show at the top of the list.

This factor works even better if such accounts have ever interacted with yours. Instagram will assume there’s a probability of you knowing the person and therefore pushes them to the top.

Factor #4: Inactiveness of Accounts

The Instagram algorithm also works in a way that the less active (or inactive) accounts are placed at the bottom of your following list. This factor only works when you follow a large number of people, with the minimum being 200.

By default, accounts that do not put up any posts within weeks or months will be placed at the bottom of the list. If you have over 200 accounts following you, the less active ones will automatically be moved to the bottom of the list.

Factor #5: Number of Posts

When an account has a large number of posts on Instagram, they have the edge over those with fewer. Instagram’s algorithm places such accounts slightly above those with lesser posts.

This factor is crucial because they have more content to keep you glued to their page once you visit their profile, and Instagram is all about engagement.

While Instagram can be about connecting people and having fun, it is also business! So they try to keep you on the app for as long as possible, whatever it takes, even if it means putting accounts with more posts first.

How Do Order your Following List on Instagram?

You can now order your following list on Instagram by who followed you recently and who followed you earlier. Here’s how you do this:

  1. Open Instagram on your mobile device.
  2. Tap the profile icon in the bottom right corner.
  3. Tap on the “Following” option.
  4. Tap on the “Sort by Default” button.
  5. Select the preferred option.

By choosing “Earliest,” your list will appear in the order of whom you followed first. If you select “Latest,” the Instagram algorithm will order your following list according to your most recent followings.


Though this article has shed light on Instagram algorithms and the factors influencing them, It is essential to note that Instagram algorithms change constantly.

We hope we’ve been able to feed your curiosity about how Instagram orders your default following list.


No. A person constantly paying your profile visits to stalk you is insufficient to cause your account to appear on the top of the following list.

The number of times a person visits your profile alone is not part of Instagram’s algorithm for the following list. They have to do more than visit your profile, like interacting with your posts or sending DMs.

Here, sorting by default means sorting automatically, using the programmed or preselected sorting option rather than manually picking an option.

Instagram introduces a paid subscription for users.

What does it mean?

Paid subscriptions - this is our reality with you, from which there is no escape. We pay for everything from apps and news resources to music and TV shows, and sometimes for something else. Thus, we pay for the work of people who create content, doing it not only here and now, but also, as it were, in the future. Naturally, every year more and more services switch to the subscription model, because it is quite profitable. Therefore, at a certain point, rumors began to appear that will also become paid Instagram . But is it really so? Let's figure it out.

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This week Instagram began testing paid subscription for users in the US. This gave rise to many different rumors, the most terrible of which is the transformation of a once free service into a paid one. Many users even managed to write in support that they would give up Instagram and go to competitors if its creators introduced a paid subscription. But there is absolutely nothing to worry about here.

Paid subscription to Instagram

The cost of subscriptions to Instagram will vary from $1 to $100

The subscription introduced by Instagram will not be mandatory. It is aimed at users who want to get additional content from their favorite authors who are willing to provide it for an additional fee. In fact, this is the same as the YouTube sponsorship mechanism , when you subscribe not only to a traditional channel, but also a paid one.

True, on Instagram everything will be arranged a little differently. Instead of subscribing for money for a specific user, the subscription will offer access to additional content from 10 authors at once. You can choose them as you wish. And the cost of a monthly subscription will depend on the amount of exclusive materials that you want to receive for your money, or the decision of their creator.

I quit Instagram and did the right thing

The cost of a subscription to Instagram ranges from $0.99 to $99.99 per month. However, so far there are not very many options for additional content that can be obtained by subscription. These are exclusive stories, closed streams, special notes on their profile when commenting, and a dedicated line for contacting the author in direct. Basically, not a lot. But nothing prevents the authors from offering paid subscribers something else. For example, participation in sweepstakes or private chats.

Bye subscriptions to Instagram are available only in the USA and only in test mode. The creators of the service themselves do not yet know whether this model of content monetization will remain in the future. However, at this stage, all the money from subscriptions will go to the authors without commission from the creators. True, since the subscription tool is built into the application, Apple will take part of the amount, which charges developers 30% for transactions.

How Instagram makes money

Instagram is looking for additional ways to earn money due to the ban on targeting users in iOS

Basically, following is not very important for Instagram. The service makes good money on advertising by targeting users and offering them the most relevant ads. Instagram is owned by Facebook , which effectively tracks all of our online activities. Visiting a single site or service will not hide from him, not to mention what you do with them. Facebook remembers all this, and then transfers it to Instagram.

Based on these data Instagram generates ads , which corresponds to user requests based on the so-called advertising identifier. However, recently it has become clear that the advertising market is waiting for a large-scale redistribution, which was launched by Apple. The Cupertino-based company, on whose platform Instagram is very popular, has banned targeting its users.

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While this ban has not yet had time to affect Instagram earnings , but it is possible that this could happen in the foreseeable future. Of course, the service does not want to lose money and is clearly looking for new ways to monetize. One of them can be a commission fee for subscriptions. After all, even if at least 0.5% of users decide to subscribe for a fee, and Instagram decides to take 5-10% of the payment amount from them, this will already be a good increase in revenue.

So far this is just a guess. First, no one knows if Instagram will leave a paid subscription for users, and, secondly, whether the service will take a commission. However, there is no doubt about the latter. Sooner or later it will happen anyway. Indeed, in order to ensure the acceptance of payments and their processing, service developers need to make considerable efforts. And the creators of a commercial product are unlikely to do something for free, or at least without the prospect of earning money in the future.

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How you can now do business on Instagram* - Snob

What will change for a business that stays on Instagram* after the social network is recognized as an extremist organization?

The decision of the Tverskoy Court of Moscow does not prohibit the use of Meta* social networks for both individuals and legal entities, but the law must not be violated.

Maintaining a page, although with a number of restrictions, on Instagram* is not considered a violation of the law, but now it is impossible to take the audience away from other sites on the Meta* social network, as well as make calls to subscribe to an account. Targeted advertising on the territory of Russia has already been blocked, but now promotion in these social networks from the territory of other countries has also become illegal for Russians, since the social network receives income. Thus, ordering paid services and making any transactions in favor of Meta* are prohibited. Advertising integrations for bloggers are still allowed.

What business activities can now be qualified as a violation of the law?

Formally, any proposal to install Instagram* or subscribe to an account can be interpreted as calls to participate in the activities of an extremist organization. While there are no exact explanations, I recommend avoiding such formulations or at least accompanying them with a disclaimer. It is also now prohibited to place Meta* social media symbols in any form, including the Facebook* and Instagram* logos on websites, business cards and in letters. Their display can be equated to a public demonstration of the symbols of an extremist organization and related propaganda.

Should I keep my Instagram account*?

I cannot recommend doing business on a social network recognized as extremist. Obviously, it makes sense for businesses to duplicate content on other social networks, at least on VKontakte.

Which social networks should businesses switch to?

The most popular will be Vkontakte, Telegram and Zen. Telegram is convenient for reading news, but not for doing business. Its functionality differs from regular social networks - there are many personal chats that mix with channels, and it becomes inconvenient to look for a brand. Probably, now many bloggers will transfer their audience to Telegram, but then users will realize that it is inconvenient to use it with a large number of subscriptions, and they will archive chats as much as possible. And it’s also difficult to promote yourself there - for example, there are no recommendations, a “Popular” section, placements in other channels are only paid or by barter.

For business, the most understandable and fastest social networks are VKontakte and, probably, Zen. Both social networks have an algorithmic feed, a recommendation system, both photo and video formats are available. I think these will be the two most popular social networks for business.

VKontakte is better suited for brands and product placement. There are features that Instagram did not have*, such as the ability to create product cards, individual events and discussion threads, internal applications and games, HR functions for posting vacancies, the VK Pay and VK Donut function. I think the most understandable and simple solution is to go there. Another thing is that many businesses will go to VKontakte and the competition there will grow strongly, it will be difficult to attract attention and the cost per click will become high.

How to minimize audience loss?

Transferring traffic from one social network to another is very difficult. It’s not worth just giving a link to VKontakte or Telegram in stories and hoping that half of the subscribers will go there. Usually the conversion is minimal - from 3% to 10%, depending on the loyalty of the audience.

There are no universal tips. Better position were those brands that had a database of loyal customers, not just subscribers. In such a situation, it is important to regularly remind that if you want to leave a review or ask questions about the product, then the business has other platforms. If you repeatedly post calls to go to another channel, then the opposite effect may work: users will simply turn off viewing your publications. It is better to add some kind of motivation to such requests, encouragement for subscribing.

It makes sense for businesses to imitate bloggers, adapt their strategies, mechanics: watch how they hold contests and sweepstakes, motivate them to subscribe to them. In general, this situation will be a huge challenge for businesses and a test of creativity, the ability to adapt, and find non-obvious and low-budget advertising tools and mechanics.

How will social media use change?

People who spent several hours on social networks are unlikely to suddenly switch to reading books and walking in the parks. Screen time will most likely not decrease. The form of content consumption will change, but not the habit itself. There will simply be a large migration of traffic to other sites.

Is it worth migrating to marketplaces?

Social media and marketplace placement are different business models. There are brands that have developed their communications and raised their own awareness, and it makes no sense for them to move to such sites. And those who are imprisoned for marketplaces are already there.

What about Avito?

I don't think that Avito can be compared with Instagram* because of the different specifics of user interaction. But in general, Avito showed good results in terms of conversions before, for example, in real estate. Now this figure will only grow. We can say that the site is suitable for selling furniture, equipment, cars, services and, of course, posting vacancies. Now most businesses will try to maintain accounts on different sites and then concentrate on the one that will show the greatest efficiency.

How will the activity ban affect companies that help drive Instagram*?

Representatives of the creative industries, which specialized in providing Instagram management services*, will suffer the most. I know businesses that have lost 80-90% of revenue due to blocking. Of course, we will all count losses for a long time to come. But still, everyone will be able to quickly reorient themselves to new platforms.

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