Feature Image

Instagram Story Views Order: How Does It Work?

  • By James McBride

The Instagram story views order is something that has been heavily discussed ever since Instagram stories were first introduced back in August 2016. The majority of social media platforms have complicated in-built algorithms which control the type of content you see and who you see it from, which the majority agree, is based on the engagements you make whilst on the platform. In most cases, the content you see on your feed is based on an interaction between time and it’s relevance to you. The order of Instagram story views, however, is less widely known, although multiple theories exist.

Instagram stories are a powerful tool that allows further interaction between users, and has helped the production of higher quality permanent content on profiles. Photos or images that are not up to the standard can be put on the Insta story instead, lost to the world after 24 hours. There is something incredibly addictive about adding an Insta story, keeping you glued to your phone for at least the first hour so you can see who watches it first and keep track of how many it reaches.

However, by far the most interesting part, is trying to understand the Instagram story views order. Are the ones at the top stalking your profile the most? Is your ex still regularly checking your profile? Do you have a chance with your crush? These are the type of questions you automatically ask yourself when you look at the order of Instagram story views. There are two main theories as to what determines the Instagram story views order; The chronological theory or the engagement theory.

1. Chronological

As Instagram news feed has now returned to being chronological, many have suggested this is also the case for the stories, and that the order is based on who sees your story first. I tested this theory, looking at the Instagram story views order 10 minutes after posting and then an hours later.

As can be seen above, although the number of viewers has increased, the top 5 order has remained relatively constant and hence can't be purely chronological. Others have argued that the order is reverse chronological until the viewers become 50+ at which point the order switches to another algorithm. I would also argue against this as even after 6 views, it no longer followed a chronological order. This would also mean a complete reshuffle of the Instagram story views order after 50 views, which is not the case.

2. Engagement/ Stalking

The other theory is that, similar to the newsfeed, the order of Instagram story views is based on engagement between users. This seems the most likely as often your friends you regularly interact with are normally near the top, however, this does not explain why your ex, your crush, the guy you hate and the girl you spoke to once on a night out 5 years ago and not seen since, make up the remainder of the top 10. According to Instagram, engagement is classed as any public activity such as liking, commenting, messaging and, interestingly, profile visits (Stalker alert). The view order is thought to be a mixture between all of the engagements, with profile visits having the most influence. I very rarely post on Instagram, and havent done for the past 6 months. This makes my account a perfect test account, as I have very few pictures for people to like, so it is likely that my story views order is almost purely from profile visits. But then, is the order based on your stalking, or the other persons stalking?

The next question is therefore:

Is the Instagram Story Views Order Influenced by Your Personal Activity?

I created a test Instagram account and uploaded a number of stories. I then used my personal account to view every story on the test account for 5 days, however, was not active on the test account at all within the 5 days other than to upload the pictures. After 3 days, my personal account was at the top of the test accounts story views list. This suggests that the order of Instagram story views is based mainly, if not solely, on other peoples activity to your account. The order of stories you see on your feed, however, is based on your activity, but there is no correlation between this order and the order of the Instagram story views. However, you can tell whether you are on the front of someones else's 'story feed' by how quickly they view your story. Paige Thelen of Instagram tech communications said that, similar to the feed, stories are ordered based on which moments you'll care about most.

The order is determined based on a number of signals including:

1. The likelihood youll be interested in the content

2. The timeliness of the posts

3. Your relationship with the person posting.

Therefore, it appears that it is engagement/ stalking that is the main factor when it comes to the Instagram story views order. However, it is unclear whether this is for the entire list or just the top 5, top 10 etc and the rest random. I have noticed that, most of the time, people I dont follow back that see my story always appear near the bottom of the list, with the bottom 5 always made up of people that I dont follow back.

It is also unclear whether activity on facebook has any influence over the Instagram story views order, which would not be surprising given that Instagram is owned by Facebook. I would say no for now, purely based on the fact that a lot of the people that appear at the top of my story views list I don't have as a friend on Facebook.

Why is the Order of Instagram Story Views important?

From a marketing and business perspective, it could be incredibly important. If the engagement theory is true, analyzing the order of Instagram story views can help you understand who's interacting with your content and is genuinely interested, and, therefore, any sales or marketing strategies can be tailored accordingly.

However, for the most of us, having the knowledge about potential stalkers every time you make a post is incredibly addicting and keeps you wanting to post and interact with the app. 

Although it hasnt been confirmed, evidence points towards the engagement theory and that it is largely based on other people's activity on your profile rather than vice versa. Therefore, you can crack a cheeky grin the next time you look at your Insta story viewers and see that you see your ex is still interested and your crush is more into you than you might think...

END. Clothing