Instagram Following List Order (& Followers)

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If you’ve ever been to your followers or the following list on your Instagram page, then you’ve probably noticed that there’s no specific order to either list.

They almost look random. You’d think that Instagram would order your followers and following list in order of who followed you recently (this is the case in some profiles), but Instagram doesn’t do this.

You may also be confused as to why certain people are at the top of your followers, and following list and certain people are not. Instagram hasn’t revealed how these lists are ordered, but they’re based on an algorithm.

If you stalk your boyfriend or girlfriend, you might also be wondering why some of the people they’re following are at the top of their list and others are at the bottom.

It’s more frustrating when you want to know who they followed recently, but you’re unable to find it. Knowing how Instagram sorts this out can be crucial to how you understand the way someone’s following list is ordered, and down below will show you that.

Note: Instagram continuously changes how these lists are ordered, so there’s no definite way to know how these lists are ordered.

How Someone’s Followings List is Ordered

The following list is not ordered in a specific way like the follower’s list is – It’s not in chronological order or alphabetical order.

The following list is also based on mutual interaction. For example, who likes and whose posts you like, if you DM each other, comment on each other’s posts, tag each other in pictures, and visit each other’s profiles.

Instagram momentarily switches the followers and followings list from a chronological view showing people who you have recently followed and are following you to a random view based on each person’s Instagram profile.

The following list is now ordered who you follow and who you have the most mutual followers with.

The first part of anyone’s followings list that you view will be people that you follow, then from there when the people that you follow have run out, it’s then ordered by who follows you, and you don’t follow back. It’s ordered by who you have the most mutual followers with; then it’s who you’re most likely to follow.

How Your Followings List is Ordered

following list

On Instagram, in the following list, you can now order the list by who you followed recently and who you followed last. To order this list, go to the Following tab, tap on Sort by Default, and check how you want the list to be other.

If you chose the earliest, it will show who you followed first in chronological order. If you check the Latest, it will show you who you followed recently in chronological order.

How Does Instagram Sort Followers

If you have less than 200 followers on Instagram, then the list will be organized in alphabetical order by the name on their profile, not by their username.

If they don’t have a name attached to their profile, they will be placed at the top of your list as a most recent follower above the alphabetically ordered list.

If you have more than 200 followers, the list will be organized using an algorithm based on who you have the most mutual followers with and who you follow.

The first part of anyone’s follower’s list that you view will be people that you follow, then from there when the people that you follow have run out, it’s then ordered by who follows you, and you don’t follow back. It’s ordered by who you have the most mutual followers with; then, it’s who you’re most likely to follow.

Note: You must be aware that Instagram always changes this order/algorithm. Recently, the follower’s list is based on who followed you recently and not so much alphabetical order anymore.

Because it always changes, sometimes you might notice that the follower’s list is based on who you interact with the most. You may see people at the top of your list that you interact with or they interact with you the most. For example, visiting each other’s profiles, liking and commenting on each other’s posts, and messaging each other.

How Your Followers List is Ordered

The algorithm of someone’s follower’s list is the same algorithm that’s shown for them when they’re looking at your followers.

But when you go on your own profile, then you’re going to see that your followers list is based on who followed you recently and not by the typical algorithm that Instagram uses for someone else’s followers.

Your followers are ordered so that the people that followed you first are all the way are the bottom of your followers list.

Tip: If you’re stalking your boyfriend/girlfriend or ex and want to see who they recently followed, then you can do this by going on their following list and constantly updating it.

It’s a known glitch that someone, after refreshing the list by swiping down, their following list is then ordered in chronological order for a moment. Once you notice this happen, don’t refresh it again unless it might switch back to the usual algorithm.

There isn’t a known amount of times that you’ll have to refresh their following list to see it in chronological order, but doing it enough times will allow you to see it. It could be 10 or 50, but it happens eventually.

The Algorithm Of the Followings List

There are a plethora of things that determine the way someone’s following list is ordered. The most common ones are your mutual followers; from there it descends into a bunch of other things, with less relevant factors being how many posts someone has.

1. People You Follow

The first batch of people you will see on someone’s followings list is the people you follow. Instagram first shows the people that you follow whenever you visit someone’s followings list being this is who it thinks that you’re likely to click on.

Instagram will only have a followings list algorithm if they want you to visit certain people’s profiles.

So they show people’s profiles that you’ll likely be interested in looking at. Sometimes you’ll find that the people you follow aren’t right at the top of someone’s following list.

That’s because other factors of the algorithm that are much stronger outweigh the fact that you follow someone, which is why Instagram might not showcase them at the top of their followings list.

2. Is The Instagram Following List In Order Of Interaction?

Another high factor that will position people towards the top of someone’s following list is whether you interact with them or not. Interaction is a strong factor that Instagram uses to order other lists such as the likes list.

If you and someone else, whether you follow them or not, always like each other’s posts, then you’re going to find that they’re towards the top of someone’s followings list. Interactions can also mean DMing someone or commenting on their posts vice versa.

Since they always interact with you and Instagram wants you to click on people’s profiles, they’re going to position people that you interact with because they want you to click on their name to browse on your profile, which means you spend more time on Instagram.

Bear in mind that this only happens when someone is following 200 or more people. The same goes for the follower’s list. If it’s less than 200, then it’ll be chronologically based.

3. Mutual Followers

To be clear, by mutual follows, I mean people that follow you and the person you’re stalking. Not someone you’re following that follows them. If you have mutual followers with someone, this is regardless of if you follow them back, they’re going to be at the top of someone’s followings list.

When the person’s following someone that follows them back and they follow you, Instagram is going to think that you’re interested in checking out this person’s profile regardless of if you follow them back or not.

When someone follows both of you, it’s likely that they know you so in the chance that you might know them, Instagram will favor their position in the list at the top in the chance that you might follow them.

4. People That Follow You

Next on the algorithm for someone’s followings list is people that follow you. People that follow you are interested in you and this increases the likelihood that you might know because they seem to know something about you.

Because of this, Instagram will show them towards the top because they want you to visit their profile and potentially follow them in the case that you know them.

This in turn, means that you’ll spend more time on Instagram because you’ll be looking at their content.

To check if people towards the top are people that follow you, scroll to the section of follows that you don’t follow and visit the profiles one by one. If there are people that follow you, you’ll find that they’re at the top of the list.

5. Do Stalkers Appear First on Instagram Following List?

On someone’s following list, you may be under the assumption that people who stalk you are at the top of the list. This is regardless of if they like your content. If they constantly visit your profile and stalk you, they will not appear at the top of the following list. The fact that they stalk you isn’t part of the following list algorithm.

But, if they stalk you as well as like your posts, without following you, then chances are that they’re going to appear towards the following list. They can also appear towards the top if they constantly DM you or watch your stories.

6. People Who Followed You Recently

The fact that someone has followed you recently is part of the following list article. This can make you aware of people on that list who recently started following you. Someone following you recently is also similar to interaction and the fact that they follow you in general. But the difference is that they followed you recently.

Since they’ve followed you recently, Instagram is going to assume that you have some type of relation to them which is why they’re going to place them towards the top of the list. This can lead you to go ahead and follow them.

This is only relevant when you don’t follow someone back. But if you do follow them back, it’ll be guaranteed that they’re at the top of the list because who you follow on someone’s followings list is always at the top.

7. Geo-Location is a Factor Of The Following Algorithm

Another factor of the algorithm that can determine if someone is at the top of someone’s following list is their location. Someone with a location that’s closer to you city-wise is more likely to appear towards the top of someone following than someone who’s not.

Let’s say that you check someone’s following, and they live in the UK, but you live in the US. If one of their followers lives close to you in the US and they follow them, they’re more likely to appear towards the top of their followings list.

This is only effective when they live very close to you, and what can strengthen this is if they’ve interacted with your account before.

This will lead Instagram to think that you might know this person, which is why they’ll favor them in the following list in the rare event that you might follow them and spend more time on Instagram.

8. If They Have Lots Of Posts

Another algorithm factor that might position some slightly above someone else regarding the following list is how many posts they have. When someone has a high number of posts, it means that they’re more likely to be shown at the top.

This is because they have more content which means that you’re likely to stay on their page if you were to click through and visit their profile.

Instagram cares about you staying on the app for as long as possible, so they’re going to do everything they can to make sure that you do this. If that means prioritizing accounts that have more posts on someone’s following list, then that’s what they’re going to do.

9. People Having More Followers and Following

When someone has more followers, or they are following a lot of people, they’re more likely to be placed at the top of someone’s following list. Followers and following is a factor of the following list order.

Accounts that have a smaller following and followers list are likely to be towards the bottom of someone’s following list.

10. Verified Accounts

Instagram tends to put verified accounts towards the bottom of the following list. Verified accounts with tons of followers are usually at the bottom and have the least priority. It’s unknown why Instagram doesn’t favor verified accounts in the following list but they always seem to be the last.

This is also the case for brands. This might be because of the low chance that you’ll want to browse through the brand’s account.

What Does Sort By Default Mean on Instagram

Sort by default means that Instagram will sort it based on their default algorithm. This means that the following list won’t be ordered in chronological order. It’ll be in an unknown order based on Instagram’s algorithm.

David Johnson is a freelance writer with 9 years of experience writing for Techzillo and other established tech outlets like iMore. His focus and key interests are Apple and accessibility as well as consumer technology in general. Read our Editorial Guidlines and Fact Checking process.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi!
    Why is it that some accounts following and follower lists do not show all the following/ followers? For excample it shows that they are following 133 accounts, but 2 are missing from the list and the same goes with followers. And still going to that missing account you can see the person on their list as a follower. One account that I follow do show almost 300 followings and about the same followers, but on list you can find under 100.
    Can you really hide some of your followers or followings somehow or does Instagram cut off some from the list?

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