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How Are Instagram Followers Sorted? (2024)

Think your Instagram follower list doesn’t matter? Think again! Learn how Instagram followers are sorted and why it’s crucial to building your following.
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How are Instagram Followers Sorted
Table of Contents
Key Takeaways
The order of Instagram follower lists depends on several factors
Mutual followers and followings are the top factors 
Frequent interaction and following size will also affect the list order
Follower list order can affect your reputation and help you grow your following

If you’re trying to grow your following on Instagram, you may be concerned about your follower count. But what about the order of your followers list? Many Instagram users investigate the followers of other users before they decide to follow them. What will people see when they view your followers list?

Let’s take a closer look at how followers are sorted on Instagram and why should you know.

How Does Instagram Sort the Followers & Following List?

Instagram has not publicly disclosed the details of its algorithms for follower/following lists. But we have some idea of how lists are sorted based on independent studies and anecdotal evidence from influencers.

Previously, Instagram sorted followers and following lists chronologically. So, whoever followed you most recently would be placed at the top of your follower list.

But recently, Instagram has changed things up to help improve user engagement. Lists are dynamic, and the order depends on several factors.

A Few of the Factors that May Affect How Instagram Followers are Sorted Include:

Factors that Affect the Order of Instagram Followers

1. Mutual Followings

If you check a user’s followers list, you may find that Instagram displays the users that you both follow first. 

Displaying your mutual followings first helps users identify shared interests.

For example, you may find that you and another Instagram user both follow the same fashion or food influencers. Because you share these same interests, you may find it worthwhile to connect with the user on a deeper level. Or you may find other related and interesting accounts on their list to follow.

2. Mutual Interaction Data

Likes, saves, comments and shares are all forms of interactions on Instagram. The more you interact with someone, the higher they will appear on your followers list. 

Even if you don’t follow someone but interact with them regularly on Instagram, they can appear towards the top of your follower list. They won’t rank higher than someone you follow and interact with often, but they will still have high visibility.

Interactions that indicate personal relationships, like tags and direct messages, also influence the order of your followers list.

3. Shared Followers

Typically, Instagram will display shared followers towards the top of a user’s followers list. These are Instagram users that follow both your account and the other person’s account.

Displaying mutual followers can help you identify people that you may know based on your shared connections or associations.

4. Recent Followers

A user’s recent followers will also appear high on their follower’s list, but they will usually fall below mutual interests and users they interact with frequently.

Recent followers may rank higher on a follower list if they post on Instagram often, are highly active and have a large following.

5. High Number of Followers or Followings

Instagram users with a large number of followers and followings are more likely to rank higher on a follower list. 

Users with a smaller following will rank lower on a followers list.

6. Popular Followers or Following

Popularity may cause some accounts to rise to the top of your follower list, especially if you frequently interact with an account. For example, if you have a verified follower that you message often, there’s a chance that they’ll appear at the top of your follower list and your account at the top of your list.

7. Post Count

Posts matter. If an account goes inactive, it’s less likely to be at the top of a follower list. Instagram’s algorithm seems to favor:

  • Accounts with a lot of posts
  • Accounts that posted recently

Instagram thrives on user-generated content. If you want to show up higher on follower lists and grow your following, post great content more often.

8. Location

A user’s geolocation can also affect their position on a follower list. For example, Instagram users that are closer to your city are more likely to appear at the top of your list.

If you and another one of your followers are living in the same city, they may appear higher up on your follower list. That person will appear even higher if they not only live near you but interact with you on Instagram.

What Does Sort By Default Mean?

Sort By Default

“Sort by Default” is the default sorting method, which you can choose from within the app when you click on your followers. While there is a lot going on behind the scenes that we don’t know with the default sorting algorithm, it seems to target people that you:

  • Send DMS to often
  • Comment on their posts
  • Like their content

However, there are also random accounts in this list that you either see on Instagram often or the algorithm opts to place higher. Typically, you’ll find accounts that you interact with regularly or that are close to you on the list.

Shared interests may even play a role in the default sorting method.

Why Does Follower Order Matter?

Your followers show you how well your Instagram account is growing and its reach. Imagine if you looked at your profile and noticed that the following people were following you:

If you were followed by these accounts, which are all verified, you would know that you’re building authority. When potential followers scour your follower list, they’ll see:

  • Highly respected accounts following you
  • Influencers and thought leaders

Instagram’s algorithm can change but one thing that won’t is that if the top of your follower list is filled with authoritative figures, people will notice.

And if you top other people’s follower lists, you might also get a few followers being one of the top followers.

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