SnapWidget   |   Instagram Photo Gallery Widgets
  • How to make the popular page on Instagram (updated Feb 2013)

    Instagram Popular Page

    The following is a guest post from Steve at

    As an agency that allows users to buy instagram followers we receive questions relating to the mechanics of reaching the featured page on a daily basis.  The truth is – we can’t guarantee how to get on to the popular page, but we know the charactistics of those images that do make it there, and we would like to share them here on the Snapwidget blog.

    Making the popular page on Instagram was a problem solved when we last looked at the issue back in July 2012 (see here).  The obvious conclusion was:

    More Followers + More Likes = Popular Page

    Note: Our results come from an analysis of 1,650 images that reached the popular page between November 5th 2012 and January 31st 2013.

    The 7 definite Steps to Instagram Popularity

    1. Firstly, the account should be at least three months old. Tenure is definitely taken into account when considering pictures for the popular page.  Only 8 of the images we selected were from an account that had their first image uploaded within the past three months.  All 8 of these accounts had their page indexed by Google (with no images loaded) over 3 months, suggesting that their accounts were aged without images in this period.
    2. There should be no external links in the users profile (other than social media sites) if the user is not established with over 1,000 followers.  The 1,000 figure is largely arbitrary as we have seen a small number of users with backlinks to their company website or their personal photography website make it to the popular page, but these were in the minority (12 out of 1,650). This seems like a reasonable move from Instagram, as they are very active against ‘Spam’ accounts  - and why would a spam account exist if not for a backlink to a website?
    3. The user must receive likes from at least 20% of their followers. This is fairly obvious, and most of the images have a significantly greater proportion.  However for users with many of thousands of followers it can be difficult; as popular accounts are prone to be followed by many more inactive accounts. Again this is a reasonable move to keep a level playing field between the famous users and the less famous users - Instagram can’t use the total number of likes, so they use percentages/rations instead.
    4. The image has to attract a minimum of 400 likes from users that are not current followers. Instagram made this a requirement so people can’t cheat their way into the popular page by just having all of their own followers like a picture at the same time. Having people that don’t follow the user, like their pictures, proves that the picture is of great quality and deserves to be on the popular page.  This particular element can be obtained in a number of ways, from using a number of hashtags to ensure your image is seen by a larger number of people searching for an image type; advertising on other social media (Twitter retweets were the main source of likes for around 10% of the image likes we studied) and even buy instagram likes.
    5. Contrary to the advice above the number of hashtags that are on the image must be proportional to the number of likes the image receives.  This means that the more popular hashtags that the user has on a certain image, the more likes they will need. The reason Instagram does this, is because people can just place a lot of the popular hashtags to make the picture more visible, which then gets them easier likes. To help balance this out, the less popular hashtags that are used, won’t require as many likes. 
    6. A big part of the algorithm that hasn’t changed much is the speed factor. The faster the user gets likes the more chances they have at the popular page. The majority of their likes has to come within 90 minutes of posting the image (previously 45 minutes).  To achieve this consider the time that images are posted ; for example, when the user is trying to make the page at 8 PM eastern standard time, then getting likes from users that are usually on around that time will help increase their chances. This makes sense because age groups and personality types log in during different times of the day.
    7. The big one – we believe Instagram has an account authority rating set within each account.  The higher ratings, the better chances the user has at making the popular page.  Similar in nature to how Google allows users with the best websites reach the top of the rankings based on “Domain Authority” so Instagram scores users based on their input into the Instagram community.

    If you take a look at any point in time on the images on Instagram’s popular page you will see they have something in common, they are good quality pictures from established, updated accounts.  So the final tip would be to keep your Instagram account updated, log in often, like other pictures that you enjoy, leave comments and be an active member of the Instagram community.  Remember Instagram rates their users on the number of total followers they have, the amount of activity, the amount of groups they are in, how long the average user looks at their images, the number of likes they receive from followers and non-followers, and their interactions with other high authority users.

    To conclude:

    These steps have been proven to work on the Instagram algorithm as at 31st January 2013 – we fully expect that the information will be outdated within 12 months; such is the nature of fast moving social media networks.  

    The best advice remains consistent with Instagrams values; although getting followers and making the popular page can be very exciting, take some time and get to know Instagram first. The experience will be much better if what Instagram has to offer is enjoyed before taking the challenge of getting to the popular page.

    1. itsherspotlight reblogged this from snapwidget and added:
      Instagram tips
    2. badbadbitchess reblogged this from snapwidget
    3. snapwidget posted this

Contact Us


Twitter: @snapwidget

Facebook: SnapWidget

Like this? Please share.
Do you use 500px to share your photos?

If you're a 500px user you can now use 500pxWidget to add a widget with your photos on your website or blog. It's easy to use and best of all, it's free!

Email: | Twitter: @snapwidget | Facebook: snapwidget | Instagram: snapwidget

Recent Feedback

Having looked all over the internet, I was ecstatic to find SnapWidget - it does *exactly* what I need it to and does it beautifully. Thank you for your excellent work!!

Nancy Revelle