Why this happens on big hashtags?

i see many posts that got posted few hours back and have a pretty little engagement compared to others that have the avg engagement much higher , so how those posts get there instead of some that surely have bigger engagement and still they aren’t on the top9 , rather ig wait that they get to the avg engagement required then put them there , is it because the post received lot of likes from that big hashtag itself when it was on top of ‘recent posts’ ?

dont see why ig will push this posts with such low engagement into top9 of huge hashtags

Got any examples? That sounds strange but it also doesn’t surprise me, they’ve been doing so many stupid things for a long time now.

For example, I keep getting posts from 2-5 days ago that I’ve already liked/engaged with showing up at the top of my feed recently, which is just flat out fucking stupid.


Can you show us some examples? This way the community can help better.

@ian was faster then me :sweat_smile:


this is #fortnitefunny , one of the biggest hashtag on this niche , and min engagement is way more than this and yet a post like this one posted 5hours ago still there on top

With small hashtags sometimes you might encounter volatile behavior regarding the ranking algorithm. But maybe someone with better expertise in gaming-related content can help with that.

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problem is that i see this even on one of the most used hashtags on ig like #forest , ig push ‘normal user posts’ rather than repost accounts , dont know if this is wanted by them but its really weird like here


where min engagement is at least 2k likes …


They must be trying something new, it doesn’t make sense to show a crappy post with 120 likes when all the others have 2k or more. #forest for me had pretty much nothing but posts with 100-200 likes, so that has to be the average? Maybe a bad example, I don’t know.

The fortnite one had a few in there that really made no sense being with 10k+ like ones for top posts. Recent? Yeah of course, but not top.

yesterday forest one got just 10k likes , and saw vid with 48k views all repost account , if you see all posts that got 100/200 likes there , they all are pretty much (influencers or normal account) only repost one on top have faaar more engagement and is more into avg engagement of the hashtag

so maybe i suppose they limit the ‘min’ engagement for repost account until they hit the avg or max then can get there and stay competing while its not the case for other type of accounts .

totally agree , so weird…

Maybe they’ve attempted to take advantage of their content recognition to start eliminating spam/repost pages from taking over explore and ruining others feeds with duplicate content? Seems highly unlikely, just a theory.

What if these top posts arent curated only on their likes? But also overall engagement % of the account, saves, shares, views,…

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That definitely makes sense on a percent basis, meaning it’s doing well “for that account” but would be totally screwed up if you could start a new account, get 10 followers, have all 10 like, comment, save, share and then you hit explore.

Don’t have the energy to test but … :thinking:

It’s so 2017 to just fake likes and get in the top posts. So yeah other measurements could be taken into account to eliminate fake boosted posts or spam in general


yeah but for example i just saw some smaller hashtags related to ‘forest’ and they were using #forest too , and they clearly have all what it takes to figure on top of that big hashtag , like you said its true that ig algorthm take many things in consideration even type of posts (if its video or image/album…) image quality,maybe it remove the reposted content that been on top over and over on that hashtag and let place to fresh ones that never been there .

but again , at the end engagement play big part there and many repost account are very high quality with an overall decent er (even if some like you said tend to fake engagement , boost with engagement group with likes of acounts that are non related to the niche…) but still some deserve to be there and dont always find them .

Explore and TOP9 posts in a specific category are really different things tho.

and what makes this difference , for explore there will never be something like this happening but for hashtags it keeps being there over and over

From what I’ve learned so far after looking at literally thousands of top hashtag pages and accounts, here are my thoughts:

  • Ranking in the top posts is not strictly based on the number of likes and comments, as you can see by observing the top results. This is what I initially thought and so I created a tool that tells you the average likes/comments and also minimum likes for each hashtag, and although that is useful to know the formula is not so simple.

  • IG will want to show your post in the top posts of a hashtag if it deserves to be there, aka if the content is relevant for that hashtag. And how does it know that? The only way it could know is by measuring how people are engaging with that post when the engagement comes from that hashtag.

People can find your post/content through hashtags in a few ways: a) they follow that hashtag, b) they are looking at the hashtag because they clicked on it or searched for it.

While they do that they can engage with your post negatively or positively.

A positive engagement would be when they like, comment, save, share, look at, zoom, or even stop to look at your photo (yes, the app knows when you spend 5 seconds on an image or when you just skip through it). In this case, IG would consider that this post is deserving.

A negative engagement would be when the user just skips your content by scrolling past it, or they don’t interact (like, comment or save), or the worst one is when they click “do not show for this hashtag”. If enough people click “do not show for this hashtag” then pretty sure your post and possibly future posts will stop showing for that specific hashtag.

  • There is a filter in place for posts reaching the top posts tab and even the recent tab. No doubt IG has very smart machine learning algorithms that look at a post’s content (yes, they can see most of what is in the image: they know if there is too much cleavage, they know if there are humans in the picture, they know how visually aesthetic the image is and much more). The filter is in place to avoid ranking posts that are against the guidelines, but also to avoid ranking posts that should not be there because they don’t fit with the rest of top posts.

  • You do need some time and engagement in your post to be able to rank in the top posts. You will find posts in the top posts section that were posted anywhere from a few hours ago, to days ago and even months ago. Each hashtag is different and it depends on how many people are posting.

  • IG wants to show you fresh content, and they also don’t want to bore you with the same content from the same people every time (unless you keep engaging a lot with those accounts), so it will try to be fair to other new and upcoming accounts (as long as their content is deserving of the top posts tab).

  • Your top posts ranking will fluctuate quite a bit (you might get different results and sorting when you refresh a few minutes apart), but it is quite consistent among different accounts. I know this because I’ve checked the top posts for various hashtags multiple times across different devices and accounts. I am also building, as we speak, a tool that will allow you to know which hashtags are each of your posts ranking on.

With the tool I’m building, I hope to facilitate a process where instagrammers can 1) find interesting hashtags that are relevant and have the right amount of competition for your account and 2) track which of those hashtags you are able to rank for. The idea is that with time, you can learn insights unique to your account about which hashtags are working best for your content specifically.

  • Also, I think IG uses hashtags also to categorize what your account is about, so it can for example suggest accounts similar to yours. But it does not simply use hashtags for this. It will look at everything from content (both image content and caption), location, follower base, etc.

These conversations are interesting because nobody, unfortunately, is able to really look at how the algorithm works, but we can all learn from observation and logical thinking. What I find works well is thinking like an engineer and knowing what their main agenda is.

For example, we can assume that some of IG’s agendas are to 1) keep users within the platform and coming back every day (so they can show you more ads), 2) promote their best content so people keep coming back (so they can show you more ads), 3) generate ads revenue, etc.

To me, one of the most important tips is to choose hashtags that are relevant to your content. Ask yourself: if I was following this hashtag would I LIKE to see this post in my feed, or would I ignore it or worse click “do not show for this hashtag”?

*Note: pasted this from an older post of mine, thought it might be useful to this convo


are you sure about this one , you don’t think its also much more related to smaller similar hashtag that you got ranked on , because tbh hoping that some will see our post on those big hashtags where our post will disapear after 1/2minutes since they constantly get new post through the day isnt the best way to do things , the best thing would be to dominate the smaller one and switch between them to not overuse them , and then thanks to that have far higher chance to figure on top , cuz ‘recent post’ of big hashtags is always crowded , we cannot depend our engagement through it to figure on top of that hashtag

If anyone is interested here is an article from Nov 19 regarding the basics of the explore page.


It is the most detailed reliable source (Facebook), I could find on that topic back then.


This is a good point for finding content and being shown to those who like it as well, the only flaw/downside in hashtags no matter the type, is that they’re generally spammed to hell by people who don’t know anything and stuff tags which ruins the feed for you. Hopefully marking with the “don’t show this” will change how the algorithm ranks what you discover with them.

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If a photo has less than 100 likes, it can’t be in the TOP9. That’s why when you look at the TOP sectipn, you can see 101 or 102 the lowest likes.