What is the Order Likes on Instagram: Does it Mean Anything?

You post a picture on Instagram and wait for the likes to start coming in. Half an hour later, you (ideally) see a good number of hearts under your post. 

The most common thing that people usually notice about their Instagram likes is how many they’ve got. But that’s not all you need to know about Instagram likes to grow your profile. 

There’s a sophisticated algorithm under the hood of almost any social media platform. These algorithms get “smarter” every month. Once, Instagram’s algorithm displayed likes simply in the order you received them -- first, you’d see your latest likes, then those that were received before. 

It’s not that simple anymore. If you pay attention on how likes are listed on your posts, you’ll see that the order is not chronological. In this article, you’ll learn about the state of Instagram’s algorithm and how it arranges users’ likes.

How Are Likes Listed on Instagram?

To view your likes on Instagram, open one of the posts you’ve published recently. Under the picture, you’ll see the total number of likes, and probably one or two profile names of people who liked this post. 

Before, these would mean last people who hit like on this post. How it’s more complicated and depends on several factors.

The Number of Interactions

Your activity on social media translates to engagement. It’s the main currency on Instagram: the algorithm determines how relevant and interesting a piece of content is to you by the number of likes, comments, and other interactions you make with this account. 

When Instagram’s algorithm calculates engagement to determine the order of likes or posts in your feed, not only it counts your interactions with a user: his or her interactions with you matter as well. 

Engagement is measured by: 



The number of Direct Messages

How many times you have replied to DM of a user, etc.

So If you and you keep seeing someone’s name next to the number of likes under of posts, chances are that that person is one of your top contacts on Instagram.

The Popularity of Profiles

Instagram calculates the number of followers of every user who liked your picture. Those who have the most followers are given a priority in the list of likes. They will be shown on the top of the list. It’s yet another reason to grow your Instagram profile.

Comments and Shares

The users who comment or share your posts are considered greater fans than those who simply hit like. That’s reasonable: leaving a comment takes more time and effort compared to a double-tap in the case of likes. Likes are also important, but don’t make them your only focus.


Tagging someone in your profile is a strong signal to Instagram that you’re close enough with this person to list them on the top of your likes list. If he or she has ever tagged you too, it’ll also be a ranking factor.

Verified vs. Unverified Profiles

Here’s something that most never think about; a user that likes your post from an official, verified account will receive more consideration from the algorithm when deciding how likes are arranged on Instagram.

While listing likes on your posts, Instagram orders likes of official accounts first. To see whether an account is official, go to this profile page and look for a blue checkmark next to the profile name. If it’s there, Instagram has verified this profile. Those without the checkmark haven’t been verified. 

Remember that not every account on Instagram has to win this check mark. It’s created for profiles of celebrities, businesses, and other official pages to make it easier for users to differentiate them from numerous fake and fan accounts.

Verified accounts have to fit four criteria:

- They must represent an actual person or business

- There can be only one verified account per person\business

- It has to be public and have all the profile info filled

- There must be a certain demand for your profile in the search, including the search for hashtags.

Latest Interactions

If a person used to interact with your content a lot but hasn’t done it recently, Instagram won’t consider them more important in your list of likes. Users who have liked, commented, or shared  your publications most recently will be closer to the top than those who did it a long time ago.

Likes Without Names

If you don’t see a name next to the number of likes on your post, that probably means that Instagram hasn’t chosen anyone who fits the criteria above.

The Order of Likes vs The Order of Followers

Now you know that thanks to the algorithm, you can identify users that have mutual engagement with you by looking at the order of likes on Instagram. But is it the same with your followers? 

If you look at your list of followers (to do that, click on the number of followers in your profile), you’ll notice that they are listed chronologically (newest first). So the order of followers doesn’t give you insights on how close you are with other Instagram users.  

Now check out the “Following” list -- the accounts you follow are not listed chronologically. First, you’ll see the users you interact with the most. There’s a theory that Instagram uses the same ranking factors for this list as it uses in the feed algorithm.

How Can You Use These Insights?

While there’s a lot of tools (including Instagram’s built-in analytics), you can check out to shape your social media strategy, understanding the Instagram algorithm is the first thing you should do to maximize the use of Instagram. 

Depending on your goals, the order of likes can give you some valuable data to think of.

If You Have a Personal Profile

Instagram doesn’t allow you to see who viewed your profile. When it comes to privacy, you have two options: 

- A completely private profile: users can see what you post only after you approve them to follow you. 

- A public profile: everybody on the web can view what you post.

If you choose the second option, you might be worried that strangers can learn too much about your personal life.

There’s a social media phenomenon called “stalkering”. It’s when an unwanted person gets into your private life by following you in the streets and on social media, sending you messages or gifts, or even threatening your family or friends. 

6.6 million people are stalked every year in the U.S. 3/4 of the victims know their stalkers in some way. 

Likes of orders on Instagram can help you identify who stalks you. If you haven’t interacted with a user much but keep seeing him or her everywhere, it might be a stalker.

If You are a Business or Influencer

To grow your profile, you must be very attentive to your audience. One of the most important things is to track how each piece of your content resonated with them. 

Check out ten of your latest posts and analyze your most loyal fans. That data can help you to build a customer persona to better target your content in the future.

Over to You

Instagram has not officially explained why likes, comments, or followers show up in the order that they do. There are just theories about the work of Instagram’s algorithm based on users’ feedback. 

One of the most popular opinions is that Instagram prioritizes users who engage with you the most. Likes are a powerful signal to Instagram that you’re interested in something. That means that next time, the algorithm will put content from this user forward and also build Instagram suggestions based on likes.

You can benefit from users’ likes too: see what Instagram users like in your profile to serve better content and get more followers.

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Lucas Martley