How Does Instagram Choose the Order of Stories?

Instagram Stories have become one of the app’s most popular features as they allow people to upload and share parts of their day with their followers.

How Does Instagram Choose the Order of Stories?

If you use this feature, you are probably wondering who watches your Stories and why other users’ Stories are posted in the order that they are. Believe it or not, Instagram is smarter than you think.

A Smart Algorithm

Instagram uses an algorithm based on machine learning to help the app 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. This applies to Stories as well. The people you interact with the most or whose Stories you always like to see appear first in line at the top of your screen.

Instagram Statistics

Is the Algorithm for Stories the Same?

Despite their similarities, Instagram’s algorithm for Stories is different from the algorithm for your feed.

The main difference is that, with Stories, Instagram looks for “signal.” These signals are patterns of your behavior. Once it defines the signals, the algorithm adapts to your way of using this app.

If you’re curious what those signals might be, wonder no more: we’ve got the round-up right here for you to check out.


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 and will try to prioritize their Stories.

Instagram Interests


If you frequently exchange likes, comments, and direct messages with a certain person, Instagram will move this profile 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 Order Of Stories


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.

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.

Instagram Stories

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 is set up due to similar interests and online behaviors.

How Does Instagram Order Who Watches Your Stories?

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 viewer list works similarly 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.

Instagram Order Of Stories

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.

Many researchers have indicated that the algorithm actually switches when fifty people view your story. This could actually debunk the stalker theory depending on how many viewers you have and the way they appear on your list. Basically, your first fifty viewers are listed chronologically. But, once the viewer count goes above fifty, the algorithm shows you the viewers who you’re likely most interested in.

Facebook Connections

Since Facebook and Instagram are connected, sometimes the profiles you interact with on both social platforms will jump to the top of 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.

How Can I Get More Engagements?

Whatever the reason for your social media presence you’re probably wondering how you can get more likes and comments. Is there a way to overcome Instagram’s algorithm? Well, sort of. Instagram’s focus for 2020 is users’ interests, timeliness, and relationships as stated above. Using relevant hashtags, posting consistently high-quality and entertaining content, and being as unique as possible is a great start to ranking your stories higher in the Instagram feed.

The more time and effort you put into your Instagram account, the more followers and engagements you will have. If your goal is to become an influencer, or you have a business to run, check out this article for more help with gaining followers.

Learn More About Instagram

Instagram is a great app with a variety of different features. To get the most out of your Instagram experience, make sure to check out some of our other great pieces, such as The Best Apps for Making Better Instagram Stories [April 2020] and How To Add Images or Video to an Existing Instagram Story.

4 thoughts on “How Does Instagram Choose the Order of Stories?”

@emmalaura_j says:
I’ve noticed that my stories viewer count has been out of the numerical order as it normally is. After posting a series of stories it seems the last story has a way higher count than the rest of them. Not understanding why or how this happens. Any insight?!?
@kris10deth says:
I’m right there with you! It doesn’t make sense. How do people not following me find my stories (I have a public account)?
Jason says:
Bots … they have an automated script to “fast-forward” through all your stories until the last one. That’s why the last one is the only one that counts as viewed. Basically, they are accounts that hope you will notice they viewed your story, so that you might start following them. Same thing as when random accounts follow you and then unfollow you or like some of your posts randomly.

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