Instagram Popular Page Rules

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I’ve written an update to this article that extends the conversation. Consider the article below the foundation for the updated article. I recommend you read them both!

How does Instagram determine what photos make the popular page? Well, I’m hear to tell you exactly how to do it. Actually, I’ll let the good folks from Instagram tell you in their own words. Want to make the Popular Page on Instagram? Here’s how:

We use a special formula to determine which photos make it to the Popular feed. The goal of the formula is to surface the most recently interesting photos based on a variety of variables. We do not simply count likes. It takes into account much more than that to make sure new people with fewer followers also have the chance of being discovered. We’re constantly tweaking this formula in hopes of surfacing some of the most interesting content from the Instagram community.

Hmmm. Clear as mud, right? Sorry, about that – I know that was cruel. Promise something and then not deliver! So let me share with you everything that I know, and maybe it will help. Before I do, I have to point out that the very best way to make the Popular Page on Instagram is to take great photos. If you are taking really crummy pictures, you aren’t likely to make the Instagram Popular Page no matter how hard you try.

So here’s the deal – there is an algorithm – I promise you that – but we just don’t know what it is. Since making the Popular Page is determined by a computer executing code, it has to do so using math. If we can crack the formula, we can find the secret! (Just so you know before reading any further, I don’t actually know what the formula is, and if I did discover it, as stated before, Instagram changes the formula on a regular basis so it wouldn’t be true for very long anyway.)

I tried to reverse engineer the formula by tracking my own successes and failures on Instagram. The trick to being able to do this analysis is to actually have some photos that make the popular page. This proves to be harder than you may think! Eventually, I was able to get enough photos to the popular page, to do some analysis. Over a period of three weeks, I posted 18 total images and got 4 photos on the popular page. To date I have gotten a total of 10 photos to the Popular Page, but I only did analysis on some of them. Here’s some numbers:

8:45 AM | 316 | 102 | 32%
8:00 AM | 410 | 58 | 14%
8:00 AM | 423 | 67 | 16%
8:15 AM | 465 | 95 | 20%

The columns in the above table are the time the photo was posted, my total followers at the time of the posting, how many Likes the photo received in the first hour, and the percentage of likes to total followers in that first hour. I also took a few notes along the way. Two of the above photos made the popular page after receiving 43 likes in the first 40 minutes. Another one made the popular page after receiving 50 likes in the first 30 minutes.

The number of likes received in the first hour is important. The first 30 minutes of the photo may be even more important. However, it isn’t just based on a pure Like count. If it were, then everyone with 1000 or more followers would make the Popular Page on Instagram with every photo! I know that isn’t happening. I believe the threshold for Like count is based on some percentage of your followers. In my study, I never had a photo make the Popular Page on Instagram that averaged 10% or less. Therefor, I think it is safe to say that you must receive better than 10% Likes to Followers within the first 30 – 40 minutes. How much better? My lowest percentage was 10.17%.

I’ve heard it suggested that you actually have to outdo yourself once you make the popular page for the first time. Meaning, if you make the popular page with 45 likes in 40 minutes then you have to get more than 45 likes within that same period on your next photo and that the bar keeps getting higher and higher. I personally don’t think that is true. I had two photos make it with the exact number of likes within the exact number of minutes on two different days.

As I’ve gotten more followers, it has actually gotten harder for me to make the popular page. I think that is due to the fact that I still have to get over 10% likes within that 30 – 40 minute window but a lot of my followers are stealth followers. They follow me without liking a single image, or making a single comment, and I never hear from them again. Those aren’t followers, those are Zombies and they are actually hurting you, not helping you. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can do about it unless you want to go about blocking all those people. That’s up to you, but I haven’t done it personally.

In addition to the percentage of likes within what I’m going to call the “Like Window”, I think there is actually a minimum number of Likes you have to get as well. Why? Because if you have only 10 followers then you could, in theory, get to the Popular Page with only 2 likes! (2 likes with 10 followers is 20%, well above the required 10%+ mark.) Thus, I believe there is an enforced minimum. The fewest number of likes I’ve ever received in making it to the Popular Page is 43. That’s a weird minimum so I’m guessing it is more likely 30 – 40 likes.

So what do we think we know then?

  1. You have to average better than 10% likes to followers for the first 40 minutes.
  2. You have to receive a certain minimum number of likes (likely at least 30).
  3. The first 40 minutes is critical to making the Popular Page.
  4. It is possible to make the Popular Page within the first 30 minutes of posting your image.

It appears from my studies that if you hit 20% likes in the first 30 minutes of your image’s life on Instagram you’ll make the Popular Page within 30 minutes. If you achieve a little better than 10% within the first 40 minutes, you’ll make the Popular Page. In both cases, you have to get at least 30 likes (probably).

One last thing. The length of time you stay on the Popular Page is based on the number of likes you receive once you are there. I’ve had a photo make the Popular Page and only get 10 or so more likes once there. That photo didn’t stay Popular for more than 30 minutes. I’ve also gotten a photo on the Popular Page that got over 100 likes once it got there and it stayed on the Popular Page for over an hour, probably about 2 hours total. What should you take way from that little tidbit of information? Just making the Popular Page isn’t going to guarantee you get a slew of new followers. I have picked up as few as 3 or 4 followers after making the Popular Page. So don’t knock yourself out trying to get there. And don’t think it’ll give you over night success on Instagram if you do get there. Focus on learning the craft of photography and apping, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Ask your followers to really tell you what they think. Take a lot of pictures and only post your best!

Now that you have a solid foundation for understanding the Instagram Popular Page formula, you can continue reading my newest article on the same topic that covers new elements effecting your photos and their chances of making the popular page.

You may also like the Instagram article I wrote: 8 Rules for Rapid Instagram Growth. I’m @appdaptation on Instagram. If you like what you’ve read on this blog, consider popping by and saying hello on Instagram!



  1. rsmithing  November 18, 2011

    Brilliant analysis! This is by far the most objective, scientific approach to the popular page I’ve seen yet. And of course, I’m glad to see you state right away that the best way is with excellent photos. I’m hooked on Instagram, and wrote a post with 10 tips for making the popular page based on my own qualitative obersvations, and by reviewing the accounts of the top 15 Instagram members by number of followers. I’d appreciate any thoughts you’d like to share on the post at: A link to your post here is also included. Keep up the great writing!

    • Chris Smith  November 18, 2011

      Thanks rsmithing! I remember the article you used for the basis of your post. Glad to see it organized in an easier to consume manor, great job! Thanks again!

  2. luke  December 6, 2011

    With a following of little over 3000 igers, I must receive about 60-80 like and at least 5 comments, and about 100-120 like and at least 15 commnets in 60 minutes. Also, there are many variables as you say.

    • Chris Smith  December 7, 2011

      Hi Luke,
      Thanks for commenting. If my numbers are true then I’d say your posts are not making the popular page because you would need over 300 likes in the first 40 minutes of your post to hit that > 10% likes to followers formula.

      How many of your photos get on the popular page on average? Also, why not post up your IG info so folks visiting can look you up?

      • Luke  December 7, 2011

        Hi Chris, I think out of the 1800 images I have on IG (yes I have been on it since day 1)
        I had about 50 popular page hits. I have talked with few of my ig friends and they say their
        stats are changing as well. It must be due to the extreme growth that ig sees.

        My account is
        I need to find you on IG.

        • Abbi  April 4, 2012

          can you help me gain more followers Luke? I’ve just started and only have 40 followers. IG: AbbiRalphLauren

        • Joshua Umrani  July 18, 2012

          Hi, I know that I’m all most a year late on this reply. I attend Loyola University of New Orleans and I’m a Jazz pianist. I wanted to use social media such as Instagram to Market myself and band. I’ve been trying to make it to the popular page for a while now. And I want to go about doing it the right way. I was wondering if you could give me a few pointers. And by the way what is your instargram name?

          -Joshua Umrani IG: @umrani_

          • Chris Smith  July 27, 2012

            See my “8 Rules” post filed under Instagram. Read all my posts about Instagram actually and that should help you out a lot. The best advice I can give you is to be engaging, post great images, and just keep at it.

      • shaheem  November 7, 2013

        i have 27k and i get 300 likes in before 1 hour. does that mean i am not on the popular page?

    • Zul MHS  February 13, 2012

      I think I agree to that,, like us who have followers over 5k, its getting really hard to get to the pop page without hitting the 90 likes in 20min so if my guess is right and this article that stated the bar would get higher when your followers gets higher as you have to hit higher than 10% average likes of your followers.

      But that isn’t the case anymore for a few of my brothers on instagram, they have likes more than 10k followers and having likes more and faster than average is not getting in the pop page anymore. If this theaory is correct than they should get in easily as the likes and comments are over than average.

      - @infinite_looper

  3. DaddyRockStar  December 17, 2011

    That is some serious ninja sleuthing! Excellent analysis my friend.

    Oh, and “weechaaaaah!!”

  4. Alexis  December 21, 2011

    I haven’t found much on the popular page that I like ~ I use the pictures liked by people I follow to find pictures that interested me and new streams to follow. I’m on IG to find a talented group of friendly people from around the world to stay in touch with and learn about new places. My reasons are probably different from many online ~ I can’t get out much to take photos so I enjoy finding great ones but they are not unfortunately on the popular page. I also check out streams of people that make interesting comments on photographs I also like.

    • Chris Smith  December 22, 2011

      Hi Alexis,
      Thanks for commenting. I agree completely regarding your approach to finding good pictures on IG. I am not focused on making the popular page. I am focused on honing my craft to take, and then present through apping, the best possible images that the iPhone can produce. I’ve got a long way to go.

      However, many people really are interested in making the popular page, it is a hot topic, and for the most part, a complete mystery to most folks. That’s why I write about it from time to time. Plus, if you ever DO happen to make the popular page, it happens to be a lot of fun!


      • anthony everett  January 7, 2013

        i got 600 like in 30 min and did not get on the popular page why?

      • Natalie  October 28, 2013

        I got more than 500 likes in 39 mins… I didn’t make it to the popular page . :(

    • jonathan  March 8, 2013

      Glad to see a community talking about instagram and photography in the same context. I joined about a year ago when I got my first slr and have been looking to get feedback on my shots but unfortunately this has not happened. The majority f the content that makes the popular page really gets my back up as it contains so much material that does not focus around good photography so if anyone would like to offer some feedback it would be gladly recieved @jonathan_hero85 thanks

  5. Gavin Daniel  December 28, 2011

    This is an awesome theory! Thinking about it, it seems to be perfect! I have 2,248 followers but I’m afraid a majority of them are “zombie” followers.. I have 74 photos and receive anywhere between 11 and 50 likes on my photos. That doesn’t seem right.. Follow me or check out my pictures if you get a chance! I’m trying to become a popular IG user! @gavindaniel is my username!

  6. Jason  December 29, 2011

    I’ve made popular 4 times, have about 2700 followers and have posted just over 1,000 photos. Each of the 4 times I was around 50-60 likes within the first 30mins. Each popular photo varied in comments, from 3-10. I don’t think the followers-to-likes percentage has any validity. On average I’ll get about 130-200 likes per photo and my 10% of followers is 270. A number I’ll never hit within an hour. Too many zombies/trolls/creeps. The photos I’ve had go popular all end up being around 700 likes.

    Also I have several friends in the 10,000 plus followers and every single one of their photos goes popular. Usually within 30mins. I think whatever their algorithm is, it goes out the window if you’re getting 200+ likes within 10mins.

    • Chris Smith  January 2, 2012

      Since I have not experience with that many followers or likes, I can’t add to your thoughts but it does seem that there is probably some additional logic in place once you start getting to that 200+ in 10 minute zone. If I ever get there I’ll update my experience! :-) Thanks for commenting.

  7. FShady  January 1, 2012

    Unlike you say, from my experience almost every pic of some popular people I follow get to the popularpage, even if it’s a completely random not good picture.

  8. Imada  January 15, 2012

    But, the thing is, i got 65 likes in the first 30 minutes but my photo don’t made it to the popular page. My other photo got 58 likes during the first 15 min but don’t made it to the Popular Page. :(

    • Chris Smith  January 16, 2012

      I looked you up in Instagram and I don’t see any photos in your feed with more than 25 likes. Is it a different account you are referring to? I’d love to look at the specific photos that received this many likes and help you but I’m not finding them in your feed.

      • Aria  July 7, 2013

        Hi Chris,

        I know that you posted this over a year ago and might not be checking this page but if you do see this, I’d greatly appreciate your opinion on this. I just started a new ig account since my last account had 29K but only around 2000 of them were real people while the rest were spam accounts. In my new account, I have 269 followers (just starting it today). I posted a photo and got around 68 likes in the first hour and 48 likes in the first 30 mins, but didn’t make the popular page. My question is, is there a minimum number of followers we need to have to make the popular page aside from the math that you just provided? Or maybe my calculations are wrong?

      • Aria  July 7, 2013

        Nevermind, I found your more recent post on this subject. I agree, it is broken. Shame that it is so unfair. Thank you all your help though.

  9. Vincent  January 26, 2012

    I posted a photo (today) and got 69 likes in approx 40 min. This is 12% of my followers, and no popular page. Just wanted to throw that out there in case you did not have an example of this.

    Im honestly dumbfounded, and sometimes annoyed, especially when Beiber posts a photo of just Black and gets the POP page in 1 min. Ridiculous for us folks actually trying to take quality photos.

    • through the lens  May 8, 2012

      agree with you.same here.

  10. Vincent  January 26, 2012

    my account is @Veehaws…any help is much appreciated sir

    • Chris Smith  January 26, 2012

      Howdy Vincent! I feel your pain. 12% likes is really great and very frustrating when the theory doesn’t prove true. I’m actually coming up with a new theory given additional information so I appreciate you sharing your experience. Stay tuned!

      • Vincent  January 27, 2012

        Thank you for your quick response. I took a look at my followers and have blocked about 60 f the ones who were following thousands of people (ghost followers/followbacks/spam followers…whatever they are called!). Hopefully that increases my chances, and percentage.

        Have a good weekend!

    • Dariana  May 25, 2012

      Hi Vincent. I kinda have the same problem. Although compared to most here I am an amateur who just loves taking pics. I am trying to get better. And I followed Chris advice. Taking a ton of photos and picking the best ones for IG. But I have to admit that I am lost when it comes to the ghost follower thing. I have 69 people following me. And most never like my photos. And its a bit annoying. I try liking back when I see a good shot. But I just wish.. just one time to get on the pop page. Frustruating when you see photoa on that page. I cant help but think its unffair

  11. Ronixus  January 28, 2012

    A brilliant piece! Very detailed and insightful.

    It’s also possible that the odds of hitting pop is counted against the entire active Instagram population at that specific time. Since the pop page is a finite grid (unless they shorten the showcase time of the photos), it can only accommodate so much. Therefore, in a scenario where 300 photos pass all the logic tests – some have to give way. How they trim that list could be totally random.

  12. jamie barbosu  January 29, 2012

    hey! haha well i just wanteddd to say that i think the same thing is happening to me! aha i used to get popular page like often ! almost every 2 pictures i posted ! and this IS THE SECOND ACOUNT I MAKE CAUSE OF THIS PROBLEM! my first one just stoped makeing popular page and THE SAME THING IS HAPPENING AGIN! aha theres NO WAY IN HELL im makeing a new account agin! aha my first one i got to about 4000 plus followers ! and now my news ones at 6000 plus ! aha so id rather quit then make a new account ! PLEASE anyone got a solution! ? please!!!

  13. Aurelie  February 1, 2012

    Hi i have 11.790 followers, last week and before all my pics were pop.. But this week i post super photos, had so much likes but why didnt they go pop…. Thank u

    • Chris Smith  February 6, 2012

      It would be hard to know for certain what happened. If you were reaching the popular page consistently one week and the next you weren’t I’d say the most likely cause is a tweak to the algorithm. The other option is that you picked up a large number of followers in the past week who are not active. In other words ZOMBIES! A large up-tick in followers who are not also actively liking your photos may put you below the likes to followers threshold discussed.

  14. Aurelie  February 1, 2012

    Btw my account is @aureliealida .. Plz answer me i’m lost huhu

  15. Conor mason  February 5, 2012

    Hi, I have about 3000 followers and my last two pictures got over 90 likes within the first 15 mins yet neither of them made it to the popular page? Also when I check my picture it will say 75 likes and when I refresh it will say 60 likes then I go back into it after say 5 more likes and it should say 80 likes but it will say 77 likes??? If I refresh the same pic again it will say a different number altogether but then always go back to the lowest number?? Is IG blocking my likes?


    • Conor mason  February 5, 2012

      My account is @mason_5

    • Chris Smith  February 7, 2012

      Hi Conor,
      According to my theory, you’d need roughly 300 likes in 30 minutes to get to the popular page with that many followers. Also, regarding the jumping number of likes, this can probably be attributed to the different places you are looking at your photo. The stream, the news, and the profile page all refresh separately, in particular your own profile page. To get the latest count, you should always go all the way to the top of your profile (the page where you can view your profile, edit it, view your likes, etc.) then go to your gallery/profile page. You should see the “spinner” at the top which indicates it is pulling the latest info for you.

      • @zaceijblaupunkt  February 7, 2012

        Not true. This was my first thought as well but the likes still jump even after refreshing every page you are viewing them on. It seems for me that they are jumping between TWO distinct counts. For instance, after refreshing on a new photo (ie one that is currently accumulating many likes as it is currently at the top of your all of your followers feeds) it will be 142 and after refresh 167. Then another two refreshes and it will be 145. Two more refreshes and it will be 169. And so on and so forth. Very strange. Also can confirm that during this period comments from followers (perhaps only your followers) appear in your news feed but do not appear on the photo page. I have seen on a few Insta news pages that this is a confirmed bug and that it is being addressed, but I have not see an official instagram message stating that they are aware of it.

        • Matthew Nicholson  February 10, 2012

          I had this exact problem for the first week. I noticed that I would be getting notifications of comments however when i viewed my pictures it was as if the instagram server had deleted them. Very strange and quite frustrating especially when I had 70 likes and it was only registering 40-45. Luckily I have not had this problem with my last couple of posts so maybe they have fixed it.

  16. Supernus  February 7, 2012

    Just wanted to say i have 10,350ish followers and iv’e had 25 photos on the popular page and have taken some analysis myself.
    for one i think you can scrap the 10% in an hour theory not a single one of my photos has had over 1000 likes in an hour that’s been on there.
    until recently (6 days ago) it used to work that when i got around 70/100 likes within an hour it hit the popular page, (and would end up staying there for a good hour or three) which spiraled into 1000+ likes.
    but non of that seems to be in effect in the past 6 days iv’e has several photos (one i posted half an hour ago for instance) currently with 110 likes in 32 minutes but no popular page i post my images at 00:00 GMT because that seems to work best for me.

  17. Matthew Nicholson  February 7, 2012

    I have been experimenting with pictures since I read this post a few days ago and I can’t understand why some of my pictures aren’t making it to the popular page. One in particular was the other day when I posted an image and easily received over 40 likes in the first 10 minutes and about 68 within the first thirty minutes. At the time I had only 300 followers which I now have almost 500. I am pretty new to this (A little more than a week). My pictures generally make about 60 likes within the first hour with about 3-5 comments sometimes.. I would say my pictures are of at least somewhat good quality so I don’t really understand what is happening. @matthewaz

    • Matthew Nicholson  February 8, 2012

      So today I have posted three pictures, one at 9am the other at 12pm and one just now at almost 3pm. The one I just posted received 50 likes in about 14 minutes and possibly 4-5 comments. It made the popular page! haha so it seems like your calculations are about right seeing as how I have 514 followers. It is a bit disappointing though because it went on after 14 minutes and was at 130 likes by 30 minutes, however I stopped receiving likes at 30 minutes which makes no sense. Why would they take it off after only 15 minutes when I got 80 likes in only 15 minutes? @matthewaz

      • Matthew Nicholson  February 8, 2012

        ^ Correction… 5 minutes later I am receiving likes again. Hmmm.. strange

  18. Gia  February 8, 2012

    Both my friend (@Vanillafederalie) and myself (@giacolatta), have recently started our instagram accounts so we don’t have too many followers but we have gotten quite a few likes on some of the pictures. I currently have 87 followers and 66 likes on a pic but I have yet to make the popular page. Adding hashtags helps a great deal tho! i am wondering if the percentage of the likes we receive have to come from our followers and not just random people? What do you think???

    • Chris Smith  February 9, 2012

      I’ve rolled that very thought around in my head Gia. I think it very likely because Instagram was not too keen on hashtags (the app launched without them and was months before they implemented them) and has since launching them tried to reduce the number of hashtags you can use on more than one occasion and gotten really nasty response back from the IG community.

      I think it very possible that likes from your followers has a heavier weight in the equation than those from non-followers.

  19. AdrianLee  February 9, 2012

    Good analysis. I like the advice in your last paragraph about improving your photography skills and submitting only your best pictures. @AdrianVideoImage

  20. Maryana  February 9, 2012

    Do you get blocked from the popular page? I believe I am blocked from the popular page. Please answer back!

    • Chris Smith  February 10, 2012

      I’ve never heard of anyone being blocked from the Popular page. Users can block you and report you for inappropriate content, but I don’t believe Instagram has any mechanism for blocking specific users from making the popular page.

  21. Gia  February 11, 2012

    Thank you for responding. I believe it makes a lot of sense. Good luck on your research!

  22. Vincent  February 13, 2012

    Just dropping by for an update. I have to be close. After dropping about 300 zombies (Only people who I had never seen in my news feed who follow about 600 or more people…there are some good IG pals of mine who follow a lot of people, so I was careful)…This did impact my “likes” a little…but since going from 890 to 557 followers, I have pretty much recovered my missing likes in a week. I block all zombie followers immediately now. And today I posted a pic that had 33 likes in 10 min (no pop page) and before the 30 min mark it peaked at about 55. So I must be close. As soon as I hit it…if I do, lol…I’ll let you know the results.

    Again my handle is @veehaws on IG Take care

  23. Chris Smith  February 13, 2012

    Hey Vincent, thanks for the update. I’d be really interested to hear if your zombie hunting produces a popular page hit. Please keep us posted! I’ve seen a lot of folks doing this lately and have heard a few success stories from people who haven’t been on the pop page for weeks or months getting back on their more regularly.

    • Ryan  February 14, 2012

      I think IG also factors out leaving comments after liking a photo to make it to pop page.

  24. idazz  February 15, 2012

    Hi Chris. I thought I’d share my experience with you which seems to match what you’re saying to some degree.

    I’ve been using IG for just over 12 months. To be honest I’m interested in photography not numbers so for me appearing on the popular page is largely irrelevant except perhaps for the additional exposure it brings but regardless, here’s my experience….

    I don’t recall when my photos started appearing on the popular page, or how many followers I had at the time. I think it was around 200 or something but what I noticed was that once I started getting 35 likes within an hour of posting a photo it hit the popular page after that first hour was up and would stay there for an additional hour. As I gained more followers, generally speaking ~20 new followers for each photo appearing on the popular page, I hit the same 35 likes in the first 30 minutes in which case it would hit the popular page *before* the first hour was up, but as before would stay there for an additional hour.

    In effect what I found was that 35 likes in the first 30 minutes was the sweet spot regardless of how many followers I had. My photo’s appeared on the popular page consistently. Each and every one hitting the popular page after 35 likes and each photo gaining ~20 new followers.

    I haven’t mentioned comments or hashtags because there seemed to be no pattern to this. Quite often my photos received no comments until after it appeared on the popular page, and the use of hashtags also seemed to make little difference.

    I believe this ’35 like’ magic was happening from the time I had around 200 followers right up until I got to about 2000 followers. At it’s peak I would see ~50 likes in the first 30 minutes rising to 600 or more within the next two hours. It was so consistent I could predict it happening, then something happened around the time IG updated the app (the update that screwed with the filters). Maybe the algorithm changed, I don’t know, but since then, or rather since I got ~2000 followers, I’ve not had any photo’s appear on the popular page. Not one. It just completely stopped.

    I now have 2450 followers. If I post a photo, I will get ~40 likes in the first 30 minutes but no popular page. I will then get ~100 likes within the hour, and if I’m lucky this will rise to around 200 over the course of two or three days. I will gain maybe 3-5 new followers from each photo. This is now my norm which is quite frustrating, not because I particularly want to appear on the popular page, but because it doesn’t seem to be affecting other people in the same way.

    Clearly IG isn’t going to base the algorithm on likes alone, but your calculations seem to match my own rough mental thinking. I’ve been thinking my lack of popularity has something to do with the number of ghost followers I have. Going from 2000 followers and only 100 likes doesn’t make sense, particularly as I don’t believe my photos are at all bad! If the ghost follower issue is part of the problem, and clearly ALL IG users with high follower counts will have some proportion of ghost followers why doesn’t it happen to them? I’m going to select a few and watch what happens when new photo’s are posted to see what kind of ratios they get.

    For those interested in the purging ghost followers there is a website called IGExorcist ( which will collate all followers who haven’t liked or commented within a few set time frames and offer you the chance to purge them. If I ran this and choose the longest period, 180 days, I would loose 1130 followers. I’m reluctant to loose followers but then I’m not really interested in the numbers. I more interested in finding good quality photographers and interacting with a community and if these 1130 ghosts are preventing me from doing that then we’ll have to part company.

    Anyway, great post Chris, I’d be interested to know what you make of all this.

    P.S. I’m @idazz on IG if anyone wants to join up.

    • idazz  February 15, 2012

      Update: I’ve used IGExorcist to cull followers who haven’t liked or commented for the last six months. No idea what effect this will have but I can’t help but think this isn’t helping growth in some way.

      • Chris Smith  February 15, 2012

        My number was in the 500s as far as folks who haven’t liked anything in 6+ months. That’s about 40% of my followers. In the 0 – 6 month range, I think there are probably 200 of those followers who have only liked a photo 1 time since they started following me – the day the followed. So if I really cut super deep, I could get down to about 400 people who actually seem to care and are active in my stream. I average about 50-60 likes in the first 30 – 40 minutes. So if I hacked off about 800 followers I’d be in the 15-20% likes to followers ratio on every picture. It would be an interesting experiment but one you can’t undo. :-)

        • idazz  February 15, 2012

          I let the purge run until I was left with around 1600 followers then cancelled it. I’ve since posted two photos which both received ~35 likes in 30 minutes and 60/80 likes within the hour and it had no effect whatsoever. It was a risk, but I’m not actually bothered that I lost so many followers now. When I looked at who they were they clearly had no interest in anything other than getting themselves noticed at the time they followed so no great loss and I might even do it regularly from now on.

          Interestingly I follow someone with 13,000 followers, and they received 192 likes in 20 minutes and at that point they hit the popular page (I used to keep track of it). Maybe there’s just no logic to it at all! :)

    • Chris Smith  February 15, 2012

      Stellar comments @idazz! I think you are 100% correct that the formula that you were working under when you had 200-300 followers changed. In fact I think it changed about 3 months ago, and I think it changed again about 15-30 days ago again. I’ve got theories that I’m working on and could use a collaborator if you have any interest.

  25. Vincent  February 15, 2012

    Im not sure if you mentioned it previously on this thread… but I spoke with @richNYC who is super established in the IG community, and also did some IT work for them. He says that when you have someone who has a lot of followers like your photo that it has more pull than someone who has just a few. He says its constantly being tweaked, so naturally there’s no way to know if this still holds true. But an interesting puzzle piece nonetheless


    • idazz  February 15, 2012

      That would make sense to me. It’s a lot like how Google works with Page Rank and I’ve often wondered if something similar was being applied. If a website with low page rank links back to your website that counts for something, but not as much as a link on website with high page rank. Essentially the more clout you carry the more you ‘like’ power you have i.e. the more reach you have within the rest of the IG community.

      In my case (see above) I had great success when my followers generally had more followers than me, but as I tipped the balance my ability to be liked by people with more clout than me diminished and hence my photo’s are no longer ‘popular’. I’m not sure that theory entirely stacks up as I’m sure there are other factors but it does kind of make sense.

  26. Reynadlc  February 17, 2012

    I meannnn… brain is fuming literally burning out smoke arrggg

  27. Vincent  February 20, 2012

    Well, it’s official. IG has their heads up their butts. I posted a photo today that had 60 likes in 26 minutes, and I have 360 followers. No pop page. This is starting to actually get on my nerves. And it’s not the “not getting on the pop page” thats pissing me off. Its the fact that they cant figure out a formula to help out the feeds like mine, who get punished because we manage our accounts the way we are supposed to. Its sad that new users have to follow thousands of people just to have a shot.

    Also, I do think that quality photos help…but I mean jeez. If you saw my feed…maybe you would feel for me. I think my shots are pretty stinking sweet. Oh well, If this doesnt make it at the 40 minute mark, this is my last post on here, because I effing give up trying to decipher this ridiculously flawed system.

    @veehaws on Instagram

  28. Matthew Nicholson  February 24, 2012

    I now have about 1500 followers and I am averaging about 100 likes an hour with maybe 80 likes in the first 30 minutes and 60-70 in the first 20 minutes. Sometimes I get lucky and have more but I haven’t made it to the popular page in quite a while probably seeing as how I have many more followers who are probably ghost followers like you have discussed. However, I don’t think that it really affects you in the long run (I’m talking about once you get 5000 plus followers). I am following a few people with many followers that I have been watching for a week or two and have come with a couple of hypothesis myself. You talked about it being based upon how many likes and comments there are in the first 30 minutes to an hour, however from my experience of making it to the popular page (6 photos out of 86) as well as what I have seen from those that I am following, it depends on how many likes you get within the first 20 minutes. Every one of my photos that made it to the popular page was within 12-19 minutes as well as the photos of those that I am following. With one of them having 70,000 followers his photo made it to the popular page after only having 76 likes in the first 15 minutes.. and this was only 2 days ago. Well.. to me that seems like it would be too easy so like Vincent said, maybe it has something to do with how many followers the people that like your photo have. Every photo that is posted from the people I’m following with 5,000+ followers makes it to the popular page after they receive 100 likes in the first 20 minutes.

  29. Matthew Nicholson  February 26, 2012

    My photo made the popular page today with 54 likes in 12 minutes.. I have 1550 followers. Not sure if this would help but thought I would give you the information since thats only 3.5% of my total followers.

    • Vincent  February 28, 2012

      That boggles my mind Matthew…Lol…but Im glad IG has fooled me around so much with the pop page. Im starting to think it might be more bad than good, Other than more likes for one photo…you get a huge amount of ghost followers, and people begging for follows…which drives me up the wall. Im perfectly happy averaging 120 like for each pic with only 382 followers. Congrats on the pop page either way, sir!

  30. Emily Figurelli  February 27, 2012

    I found this so very helpful. I have only been on Instagram for a little over two months. I have only hit the popular page twice. Both in one day. I am a member of Rebels United Worldwide and we hit the popular page a lot. I realized that the sakes do change every time you hit the popular page. I will hit it with 200+ likes and 100+ comments in a mere 30mins, but the very next day not hit it with 250+ likes and 100+ comments. Strange thing. Also, it is not all about likes. People have hit the popular page with 80 comments and 0 likes.

    One thing that is rather important is ghosts. Ghost followers hinder your chafes of hitting the popular page. I four out about a site a man created called it will immediately cull every person that has not been active to any extent in your feed in the past 60, 120, and or 180 days. It I’d an excellent site and I highly recommend it. The site is also free. Donations are appreciated.

    Hope this helps a little with those of you struggling with ghost followers.
    Emily Ruth
    Member of Rebels United Worldwide

    • Chris Smith  February 29, 2012

      I seriously doubt anyone ever got 80 comments and 0 likes. I suppose it is possible of the person’s photo was nothing but text that said “Experiment: Do not like just comment!” but even then some nimrod would go and like it just for grins and giggles. I personally don’t prescribe to the comments make you popular theory, I think it is much more about likes. I’m still working on an updated article on this topic with loads of new information. Stay tuned!

  31. vincent  March 4, 2012

    managed to bump into this and i just wanna share some of my observations base on a year of instagraming and over 1700 pics on page :)

    it’s very difficult to say the exact algorithm of the pop page because they keep on changing it from time to time. basically, the idea is to get many likes in a very short time. in my observation, it is 20 mins. pass that time and i won’t get to pop page anymore. it also has something to do with the number of followers. the more followers you have, the more likes you need. before, the followings were also part of the algorithm. but i think they’ve changed it now. before, you wont get pop if you’re followings are more than your followers. but now, i see some users who get to pop page with that factor, so i guess they’ve changed it. once you hit the pop, it can roam the page for max 2 hours. but if you won’t be getting likes once you hit the pop, then it’ll stop. so be sure to post decent pics.

    here are some tips in getting the pop page:
    1. get enough followers – something around 500 – 1000.. enough to get a few active users and not too much that you’ll end up becoming a ghost follower to some users.
    2. check your feed before posting – the closer the time interval of posts means that you’re followings are active on those time.
    3. visit and like your feed after posting – liking your followings’ pics means that your name will pop on their notification. chances are they’ll do the same thing. a sorta like cause and effect kinda thing. that is why it is important to have enough followers because you need them to like your post within that very short time frame.
    4. visit popular hash tags – you can also visit some popular tags and start liking some of the pics there. hopefully, they’ll visit your feed, like your pics, and might even get a follow.
    5. drop a comment – commenting on pics means free advertisement on your name as it will stay there for as long as pic won’t get deleted.

    i think that’s just about it. it’s fun to get to pop page. you’ll have a reason to get excited and you’ll stay instagraming for a long time. just don’t take it too seriously though. just have fun and continue shooting. hope you’ll find these silly tips useful.


  32. Nadia  March 7, 2012

    For those that noticed that their posts stopped making it to the popular page completely…. It’s because instagram started banning a lot of users from the popular page. Not sure why. But that’s what I know happened to my page, and many others. @you_are_his

    • Chris Smith  March 7, 2012

      On what basis do you feel you were banned? Any proof to substantiate this? I know the algorithm has changed but I haven’t heard a word about IG banning people from the popular page. Although it wouldn’t be a bad idea for certain types of images that make it there that have no business being there. I haven’t looked at your profile yet but I’m sure you aren’t posting anything that would cause a ban. I’m very curious to hear more about what has caused you to state that you are banned from the popular page.

      • Nadia  March 7, 2012

        Well I mostly posted screen shots. Bible verses/ quotes and such. I have under 3,000 followers, my photos were making it to the popular page one by one, and then randomly stopped making it even after dozens of pictures were getting 100 likes in under 10 minutes. Then I started researching and found out that many people were getting banned. Maybe only those who don’t actually use the IG for photography only? Not sure. But many people got blocked from the popular page. Maybe to give others a chance! I don’t know.

    • Matthew Nicholson  March 8, 2012

      I also had thought I was banned for a while when I reached 800-1500 followers because NONE of my photos would make it to the popular page when before I had at least 4 make it. However then I reached about 1550 and my photo finally made it. I haven’t heard of anyone banned from the popular page so maybe it’s just a range of followers your in that not enough are liking your photos. Not too sure because instagram continues to amaze me with the popular page.

  33. Matthew Nicholson  March 8, 2012

    Another statistic I wanted to give you Chris… About thirty minutes ago I posted a picture that received 59 likes in 10 minutes and made it to the popular page. That’s not too bad besides the fact that I have 2900 followers. It confuses me and I wanted to let you know to see if you could figure anything out from it. I had NO comments what so ever until after it made the page. Honestly the equation whatever it is, MUST take into affect how many likes other photos are getting at the time. I don’t think that it has so much to do with your followers as it does how many likes other photos are getting.

  34. Vincent  March 14, 2012

    I agree Chris…I’m reluctant to think anyone was banned from pop. I have yet to pop still, and have even joined a group dedicated to Popping…I have a little over 500 followers now (none ghosts) and on a few occasions have had a hundred in 20 min…I think part of the formula now also takes avg likes into commiseration…meaning a photo may have to do better than previous photos…among other things of course. Naturally I’ve kinda given up. I assume it will happen whenever it does.

    But I had to jump back in because anyone who thinks they were banned from pop is kidding themselves.

    Take care,

    @Veehaws (Vincent Thomas)

  35. allygawrys  March 19, 2012

    how do you know if you’re banned from the popular page? is there a botification? because i uploaded a picture and it got 100 likes in a matter of 5 minutes and didn’t make it!

    • Vincent  March 22, 2012

      There are now 27 million users on IG…it shouldnt be expected to make the pop page every time just because you hit the right numbers (and we dont even know what those are). It sounds silly to me that IG would ban you from the pop page unless you were posting obscene shots. So I get frustration in regards to not making the page. I’m sure thats why we are all here. P

  36. jake  March 21, 2012

    I have 7900 followers. I have hit the pop page around 125 times. I have not hit the pop in the last two weeks. I noticed a big changed 4-5 weeks ago. I have great followers. I get around 120+ likes in 9 minutes and 200+ in 15. I have had up to 300 likes in 15. I can’t pop! I am more worried IG Exorcist is the thing that screwed me up. I got rid or 2800 ghosts around the same time. Or i have been pop page banned. Sucks

    • Chris Smith  March 26, 2012

      I don’t think IGexorcist necessarily screwed you up. It is possible that it was coincidence that you ran it on your account at about the same time IG made updates to there popular page rules.

  37. Mia  March 25, 2012

    Would you recommend using

    • Chris Smith  March 26, 2012

      I think using IGexercist is completely a personal decision based on your number of followers, your goals for IG, etc. If you are looking for a smallish and relatively close knit community on IG and you don’t care about the big “Followers” number then IGexorcist might be the right answer for you.

      If you want as large a presence as possible, even if the actual number of real followers is a lot smaller then IGexorcist is likely not the tool for you.

      Why have a ton of followers if they don’t interact with you? There are legit reasons that I’m not going to go into here but there are just as many legit reasons not to. It comes down to a personal choice as to what is right for you.

    • idazz  March 26, 2012


      I used it and wished I hadn’t. I perhaps foolishly thought it would solve by lack of popular page appearance which until 6 months ago were regular (see post above). I purged 1,300 of my apparent ‘ghost’ followers before I stopped it and asked myself why I was doing it. It certainly didn’t improve my popular page appearances. Ghost followers don’t hurt anyone. So what if they don’t ‘like’ your photos, or ever leave a comment. I’ve been to loads of photo exhibitions and I’m not expected to engage with the photographer, or leave post-it notes or gold stars on the photo’s I like so why would I expect people to comment and like every photo I put on Instagram? Perhaps I just like to admire them, or take what inspiration I can.

      It goes without saying that probably only a small percentage of followers will ever engage with you, the rest are just trying to get your attention in the hope you follow back, or for some other odd reason I’ve yet to work out, but in my experience they don’t hurt being there. I’ve seen a lot of people using this service since I did, and they all say “I just said goodbye to x ghost followers, blah blah’ like they’ve just achieved something special, but as far far as I can tell, all they’ve done is reduced their follower count for no reason. Perhaps they think that by removing them they’ll get a more accurate count of true followers, but I’m not sure follower counts will ever be that reliable.

      That’s just my 2p. Take from that what you will. :-)

      What’s your IG username Mia, I’d like to see your photos.

  38. Christian Lindner  March 31, 2012


    if you want to clean your IG account from inactive ghost followers (no likes or comments for 60 days or longer), I recommend you the site, created by @mykel.

    You loose than 40 to 70 percent of your followers, but your active follower will stay. And it’s easier than to get on the popular page again.

    @mykel says: IG is for people, not for numbers.

    You can find many examples and comments in IG under #igexorcist

    Christian Lindner, in IG @editor_in_chief

    • Chris Smith  April 2, 2012

      My caution is to people to make sure they understand exactly what they are doing before the use the IGexorcist tool. Evaluate your goals on IG before you decide to jettison 40-60% of your followers. It could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your own personal outlook and goals.

      YOU CAN’T UNDO IGexcorcist once you run it! So just be very sure.

  39. Nick  March 31, 2012

    This is hands down one of the most interesting articles I’ve read when it comes to instagram popularity. The comments are great as well; it’s refreshing to see personal observations using the app rather than a long chain of “Instagram is awesome! Follow me at @XXXXX and like all my photos!” posts. (From people who would never follow you back if you actually took the time to them, of course)

    I’ve only had 2 photos make popular page, both more than 6 months ago. They each obtained around 40 likes within the first ten minutes and was when I had less than 200 followers. I’ve got around 500 now, and have had little luck since. In all honestly, around 75% of the likes I receive come from my most engaged followers. I used to use 20+ hashtags on each photo, but found it really did very little to help me in any way other than netting several random likes from people who would never engage with me again. A few months ago I stripped it back to 6 (#jj, #instagood, #instamood, #instagramhub, and 2 of my choice) and found myself getting the same or similar response.

    That is, up until today.

    Over the course of the past 12 hours I posted 6 different pictures (using the same #’s) and found that response has PLUMMETED. Until today I was netting 40-50 likes per pic on average, today it was 10 or fewer on each one. The photos were the same quality (so-so, nothing special).

    Has anyone else noticed strange behavior from their posts today as well? Feel free to weigh in with observations here.

    I’ve had a feeling for a long time that IG is going to either block heavily hashtagged pics from popular page, just like Flickr does with explore after adding a pic to too many groups. I’m wondering if they’re also starting to weigh hashtags based on popularity instead of the order they were posted. If this didn’t officially happen today, I’m willing to bet it’s only going to be a matter of time.

    Oh yeah, neither of my pics stayed on popular page for more than a few minutes. You definitely have to get rapid-fire likes to stay there. On both of mine, I noticed as soon as I wasn’t getting like one every few seconds it would fall off instantly.

    As someone on the bottom of the totem pole in terms of fanbase, making popular page isn’t even something I’m too worried about these days…and it’s only going to get harder. I feel like you either need to be famous, an AMAZING photographer (like, Avedon AMAZING), or have the ability to keep up on the social media game 24/7 to generate enough traction to ultimately make it there. It’s a fun tool to use, but I’d be a little bummed if they changed the algorithm (yet again) to make it even more difficult for those of us in the trenches to get any sort of recognition.

    • Chris Smith  April 2, 2012

      Hi Nick,
      I haven’t posted an image today so can’t say if I’ve noticed anything unusual for me own feed. Interesting thoughts on hashtags and one I haven’t considered. It is frustrating to think that IG may view hashtags as a negative considering they added them to the app themselves. I fully understand the desire to avoid hash-crashing or overuse so perhaps they are doing something to that effect. I think if you stick to 10 or fewer hashtags you should be safe. Also making them relevant – not sure how IG feels about what I call “community” tags.

      Are we circled up on IG? I’d love to have a look at your gallery if I haven’t already. Thanks for posting a thought provoking response to my article.

      • Nick  April 5, 2012

        Chris, definitely feel free to add me, will follow back. My street pics are on @nickdawg2000 and my nightlife photography (which is my specialty) is on @togetherboston.

        After five days, the main thing I’m noticing is I’m not getting those rapid-fire “likes” within the first two minutes of uploading like I used to from hashtag use. I noticed some of the people who would do that were the same people again and again (who weren’t followers) and am wondering if they were gaming the system somehow and just got banned. Another theory I have is that every once in awhile, I would be on my @togetherboston account and like a @nickdawg2000 pic, and vice versa. (A couple times a week at most though). I may have gotten penalized for that as well.

        As of now, I get about 50-60% of the response I used to get from the pics I post, and that is on both accounts.

        I’m obviously not too fessed up about any of this, it’s more of an interesting observation at the end of the day.

  40. Clark  April 9, 2012

    Hi, I have had about forty pictures up on the popular page. It was fairly easy when I had around 5000 followers. Now that I have doubled that follower base, I have found that it is extremely difficult to get on the popular page. Also I would load up my pictures with hash tags just to get a lot of likes fast. I’ve noticed that if you don’t get on the popular page within the first 10 minutes of posting your picture…. It’s not gonna happen. I do think there is some truth to instagram not allowin heavily hash tagged pics on the popular page… Because I sure haven’t been able to get on it recntly!!! Well if someone figures out what exactly I need to do again I would love to know !

  41. Nadia  April 10, 2012

    They now banned my other page. For a week I would have a couple pictures A DAY go out to the popular page. If i posted 4 pictures throughout the day, at least 2 of them would make it. And then I posted one, one night. It was about God. And after 30 minutes and 1,000 likes it disappeared from the popular page. Ever since then not one picture made it. And nothing changed. Same amount of followers (9,000) same amount of like, if not more. Exactly what happened to my other banner account. They have the right to ban whoever they want from the popular page. They don’t talk about it, but they do it.

  42. Nadia  April 10, 2012

    Oh, and those of you who made it to the popular page a lot know that the pictures stay on there for 2 hours, and sometimes even 3 hours (if you get a decent amount of “likes”) so the minute I realized my picture disappeared from the PP after just 30 minutes made me think they blocked my account from the popular page again (like they did to my other account) And I was right. Not one made it after. And this is not just me. A lot of people had this happen to them, which is why a lot of people keep on making new accounts even after having over 10 k of followers.

    • Jeremy Worst  April 24, 2012

      Dam I just read this and my last pic that hit the pop page was around a 1 week ago when facebook bought instagram or something and it was of a Buddha with half the face gone showing the skull it was a sketch that I did and made into a print. .. got around 1700 likes for like 2 hours .. after that i havent had another pic hit the pop page. i got almost 15000 followers .. I’m wondering if I delete all my photos and start over what would happen lol .. another thing is .. I had my Etsy website link in the tag and got lots of hits to that. I wonder if that has something to do with me not making the pop page also . Like if they dont alow your websites on your tags no more.. cause i look at all the stuff now and no one on the pop page ever has a website or anthing in like none of there photos but then again most of them have like 20k – 100k followers .. and you know facebook hates free advertising . they are all about money! pretty soon they will charge to be in the bottom right of the pop page with your own advertisement or something .. i bet money.

  43. Clark  April 11, 2012

    Question… How do you know forshure if you’ve been banned from the popular page ?

  44. Tyler  April 13, 2012

    This was a very interesting theory to read. Sounds like it would be correct though. I’m new to IG so I have no hopes of making the popular page anytime soon obviously.


  45. Vincent  April 17, 2012

    Ugh…Its so narcissistic to assume that you have been banned from the pop page. Im telling you that IG does not do that. It simply is a lot harder with their new formula. I have never made the pop page. I get a hundred likes now in less than 15 min on photos and when I participate in my pop group I get a hundred in 5 – 10 min…I only have 830 followers…this is a great percentage of likes to followers. I don’t think I’ve been banned from the pop page. Why? Because I haven’t given them reason to. IG is way to busy to block accounts just because they are making it too much. I see plenty of people repeatedly popping who Im friends with still, and its simply because they have the “like power”. It takes A LOT now. A LOT.

    Not to mention there are now almost 2 times as many users since a few months back, with the addition of Droid. One would assume that the competition for the Pop Page is a lot more heated because of this too.

    Im sure the last thing anyone wants to hear is “nothing is wrong with the system you just have to do better”. And, of course, whatever IG’s formula is right now stinks big time. But a pop page block…I dont think so

    @veehaws_gf on Instagram

    • Chris Smith  April 17, 2012

      Couldn’t agree with you more Vincent. I’ve stopped allowing posts about the fictitious “banned from pop page” onto this site. I just don’t think it is happening. If Instagram is going to do anything they’ll ban the user from the app all together not just from the popular page.

    • GMY Studio  April 22, 2012

      HI friend, I am @gmystudio . I am agree with you.
      As we know, many good igers are suffering from the strange pop system of IG.

      I can say, POP encouraged thousands of igers and it will make many igers discouraged.

      • Vincent  April 23, 2012

        This is my good friend GMY Studios!! How are you? Lol. Funny seeing you here.

    • Dariana  May 25, 2012

      I tried finding you on IG. No luck though.

  46. Jeremy Worst  April 20, 2012

    Yea Now its pretty hectic to get on the pop page. I have almost 15000 Followers and back then i got to the pop page every photo lol. now its almost impossible .. The lowest Ive see on the pop page is 15-20 mins with 350 likes . and thats pretty insane. I’ve seen that around 5 times. Also did you guys see the other day when the same photos was on the pop page for like 16hrs .. all of the had around 10k – 15k likes each and hella exposure. i can’t wait to get one of those lol !! I thought it was a bug and they where running maintence but i dunno. my last pop page hit was 2 weeks ago and it brought me lots of results to my site. so i guess I just have to get my followers up.

    • Vincent  April 23, 2012


      I did see that the other day. It was because instagram was glitching, and all the photos being posted from IGers were not showing up in their followers feed until over a half hour had passed…making it impossible for them to pop…so all the photos that had popped before the glitch stayed on there, due to the lack of competition.


  47. sonny  April 21, 2012

    Most of the pictures on the pop page are not even that beautiful!! for the last to months I’ve been hitting the pop page constantly but something changed in IG’s algorithm on pop page.why do they keep changing that?

  48. lsr  April 23, 2012

    There is defintely something wrong with poplar page since the glitch where the people who got popular paged stayed on the page for 13hours! After that was solved and it went back to normal I found that when you do get on the popular page your picture stays there for at least 2-3hours. I use to get a lot of pop pages but lately none. I have 11,000+ followers and have reached over 300 likes for a picture and still did not get the pop page. Has instagram raised the stakes for how many likes and comments one must get to reach the pop page?
    I agree with many of the comments, some pictures are sorry, not worth the pop page ie; a pair of jean shorts or an obvious shot from a fashion site.
    Is there a Glitch still? Also, it says that the first 30 minutes is crucial after that then there is no chance. I have never got pop page in 40minutes, is that new?

  49. @fridolita  April 24, 2012

    Thanks for the brilliant answer! I’ve been wondering about this popular page for days now (yes I’m kind of new to the whole insta…) and been wondering why people are being annoying and asking for likes and followers, now I get it. Thanks again!

  50. Nicholas  April 29, 2012

    Thanks for your valuable experiment. I never got any of my photos on the Popular page before. I kept trying but still not success.
    I probably need to get more followers ( Actives).

    Here is my account @nicholas_kt
    Everyone is welcome to visit.


  51. songbrd  April 30, 2012

    great article. I find that most of my followers, i have a small number are zombies. Looking for more interactive ppl @songbrdscientst

  52. Dhanapuji  May 7, 2012

    Wow this is very interesting.. I also heard about percentage between following and follower, but i didnt know there are more than that. It’s a great articles, very helpful.. Would u check mine? How many likes do i need to get pop page? @dhanapuji

  53. Miguel Correa  May 13, 2012

    Hi, This artical was greatly written, specially on the objectiveness of it. I’ve tried to post only the best quality of pictures I take and have not gained much followers on instagram. I have been on checking my statistics and everything I can find to get some insight on how to gain more followers. If you anyone has any suggestions on how to achieve this please let me know. My ig account is miguelcorrea3 if you wanna check it out and let me know if you have any suggestions for me.

    Thank you for the help.

    Best regards,


  54. Nick Rusko-Berger  May 26, 2012

    Heya, Chris!

    Fantastic article and comment interaction. As a self-employed painter/photographer/illustrator, the IG numbers-game (and online stats and traffic in general) are of interest to me.

    Since joining IG in July of 2011 I’ve never once made it to the Pop Page. I’ll be iconoclastic and say that that *does* matter somewhat to me since I post high-quality work, and (as with all outlets), I hope it increases my name recognition, “brand value”, visibility, website traffic, etc. As it is now, my IG photos garner between 60 and 80 likes within their first day, and my most liked group of images hovers just under 200 after several months. With around 970 followers, I’m convinced they’re mostly ghosts–though I have a lovely group of active and wonderful core followers.

    I consider myself a sterling IG user, liking and commenting on dozens of other users’ pix most every day. But as I say, the numbers intrigue me, and I am trying to grow for the reasons I mentioned above. No matter what I do (more or fewer hashes, posting times, comments & likes to others, etc) I’ve plateaued at these kinds of numbers, and nothing’s moving me forward.

    And then there are the utterly poor, uninteresting, and non-artistic pop images: I see users with tens and tens of thousands of followers–and these people aren’t The Bieber, either. One girl had 27k followers in under a year, another 50k. That’s a thousand new followers per day, from day one…or more than that per day to make up for days falling short of a thousand. Are there Bots involved, I wonder? Those kinds of numbers are unreal for mere non-celeb mortals–even if you’re a social networking genius-darling driving traffic from the four corners of the globe!

    So, I’ve been spending an hour or two per day IG’ing for not much number-return, and I’m evaluating that time outlay now. However, in terms of meeting cool peeps, honing my skills, eye, and work…it’s been fantastic and worth it.

    Thanks for a useful site. A special hat-tip to one of my favorite IG’ers, @thesungazer , whose post led me here.

    All the best,

    • Chris Smith  May 29, 2012

      Well met Nick! Apologies for taking so long to get this comment approved – I’ve been traveling on business and pleasure for the last couple of weeks.

      I think there are many of us who feel your pain – myself included. For those of us who take our photography seriously and work very hard at taking our best images, it is frustrating to be out performed by the teen somethings crowd who are posting pics of their nail polish and hair style images they ripped off the web.

      One thing I like to remind people – the Popular Page is just that, what photos are popular. It is not the “Good Page”, so take no mind of the quality of images there.

      As with most social networks, the quality of the network is reduced to the lowest common denominator. Unless someone develops an invitation only photographer’s social network then I feel we are going to be fighting an up hill battle with our images getting exposure on services like Instagram. You may want to have a look at Steamzoo, Tadaa, or EyeEm – these services haven’t yet become overrun so the quality of images are still much higher. However, if exposure is your primary goal, you have to play in the sandbox where all the other kids are playing otherwise you aren’t going to get the eyeballs on your images you want.

      BTW, do you have a twitter or Google+ profile? If so look me up and we’ll get circled. Always looking to connect with other photographers.

      Best of luck!

      • Nick Rusko-Berger  May 30, 2012

        Thanks for your reply, Chris!

        It’s funny: I think about IG as the big sandbox, too.  All your points…utterly agreed. As I said, my IG time (as well as anywhere else) is under review–I’m responsible for where I allot my resources and, as such, and I point no fingers…shake no fists at sky. My choices. :)

        On re-reading my post and your reply, this struck me:  almost without exception, you’ll find IG’ers in “plateau eras”.  By this I mean: after building up from zero in the early days, I’m a 100-200 likes user. @thesungazer is  300-500 likes guy. 1000-2000 likes people are that. In other words, when going through user images, you never see odd outliers like the 2000 like guy getting only 500, or me happening upon (some kind of) a sweet spot and getting 300 quickly. Statistically speaking…that’s weird. Any thoughts on that?

        Love to talk more sometime.  Twitter: @rusko_berger. Email, IG–whatever!

        IG: @ruskoberger

        p.s. I’ve quit looking at my IG account as immutable and untouchable, so I did that zombie-purge thing and shed around 340. Why the hell not, say I. Might do more sometime.

  55. Lauren  May 27, 2012

    I have gotten 110 likes and I have 930 followers in 20 minutes when will it be up?

    • Chris Smith  May 29, 2012

      These old rules no longer apply, Instagram changed the formula and you now have to get massive (over 1000 likes) in about 10 minutes to get on the popular page regardless of how many followers you have. Unfortunately this means the popular page is reserved for “celebrities” now.

      • Nick Rusko-Berger  May 30, 2012

        Ah…the rich get richer, etc.

        That’s life for ya.

        How’d you hear about this?

  56. Ben Latham  May 29, 2012

    Hi I don’t suppose you could take a look at my profile and let me know what you think, I have only 50 followers and average around 20 likes.. But I’m putting in a lot of work and don’t seem to be getting noticed :(

  57. Abner  May 30, 2012

    I have gotten on the pop page 3 or 4 times before the app came out for android. I only have 600 followers but some of my pictures gained 70-80 likes in 10mins with appropiate tags. The lowest likes I have seen recently on the pop page were about 350 likes in under 12 mins. Hope this helps you guys.

    P.S. I thought that getting to the pop page would increase followers; but it doesn’t honestly. The best followers I have I gained thru random picture liking (searching hashtags) when I’m bored. If you want to gain new followers, just go like and comment on peoples’ stuff and they will return the favor. Good Luck to everyone.

  58. J baird  June 1, 2012

    I don’t understand how to get more followers, someone help. I’m only at 40! Everytime I hit 41 someone stops following or my instagram is getting rid of them :( help!!!! Someone find me on there. Jcbaird

    • Chris Smith  June 1, 2012

      Give it time and keep posting your best shots. Interact with others, follow other people, leave constructive comments, etc. If you haven’t, read my article “8 Rules for Rapid Instagram Growth”.

  59. Gabrielle  June 11, 2012

    Hello Chris, I have made the popular pages many times before; however at one point i stopped making the page completely. I usually get at the least, 50 likes in 2-5 minutes and i never make the popular page anymore. Why is this?

    • Chris Smith  June 13, 2012

      Check out my post . I try to explain the reason why the new rules suck.

  60. alev  June 13, 2012

    damn! it’s all because of my zombies:) thanks, such a good analysis:)

  61. Maddie  June 13, 2012

    I have noticed most of the celebrities are making it to the popular page… I’ve only been a member for about three months now, and I only have like 67 followers. @MaddieHarshman. But like I said, celebrities can take the stupidest pictures, and still make it to the popular page.

  62. Limobe  June 16, 2012

    Thank you all for the interesting input. I find the quality of ‘photos’ on IG very frustrating at times, especially the rubbish that often ends up on the popular page. To say that the quality needs to be high to be on the popular page just cannot be true as they are usually just self portraits…maybe one way of getting good photographers more attention could be to promote people’s work by posting screen shots of their galleries or similar. I would be more than happy to have anyone do that for me as I would love to build my followers. It’s a jungle out there

  63. Rachel  June 17, 2012

    I have 57k followers and I have over a thousand likes in 20 minutes , and I still don’t make it to the pop page anymore?!I

    • John C  June 20, 2012

      really?? that’s really frustrating. I haven’t been on the pop page for a month, but i’m ok with it. i only have 6,600 followers, so i dont expect to ever get back there. i still enjoy it, though. whats your IG name?

  64. Yuzaimie  June 24, 2012

    i just noticed that instagram totally change the formula to give more chance for new user to get to popular page, it is not like ‘you have to get 1000 likes’ to get to popular page. I am totally new user in instagram and one of my photo manage to pop up in popular page once even only with 5 likes in 15 minutes.

    • Chris Smith  June 25, 2012

      Proof or it didn’t happen! :-) I’m just kidding, but really this hasn’t been my experience or doesn’t reflect what I see on the popular page at all. Right now the fewest number of likes that I saw after several minutes of watching was 500+. There is no way, based on my studies over the past 18 months, that 5 likes is going to get to the popular page.

  65. D1708  June 26, 2012

    Such a interesting read! Really has messed with my mind to be honest! I’m sure over time I will hit popular! :D Well I hope so! I have 141 followers – how many likes would I need within the first 30 minutes? I just followed you – really enjoy your shots!

    D1708 on I.G. See you all around!

  66. Julie  June 27, 2012

    Hi there! I have 20,740 followers. I just posted a picture. I had 396 likes in 35 minutes. I am still not making the page. I have never made it yet and I am wondering what is going on please. I have a business so its important that we try to get there. Can you please give me any feedback. It is much appreciated.

  67. Daniel  June 28, 2012

    I’m at 100 likes 15 minutes yet no pop page…

  68. Joshua  July 25, 2012

    Hi Chis

    I’ve got an African theme on IG. I post mages of the finer things in Africa and happen to get a considerable
    Amount of followers and likers by the day. Ive got 216 followers is impossible for me make it onto the popular page with that many followers ? If so, how many likes would I need within the first 30-40mins to achieve that goal? I can’t seem to do the math. Please reply. My IG account is @soafrican

    • Chris Smith  July 27, 2012

      Unfortunately, with only 216 followers you are never going to make the popular page under the current rules. The only way to make the popular page these days is by getting a massive amount of likes within a very short period of time. The numbers I’m seeing are close to 500 likes within the first 5 – 10 minutes.

  69. Joshua  July 27, 2012

    THANKS CHRIS! Looks like I’m gonna have to start gaining more followers.

  70. Marwa  July 30, 2012

    I have about 5K followers , how is it possible to get to the pouplar page ? How many likes/comments I need ? Thanks :)

  71. Cody  August 5, 2012

    Hey I’ve been using ig this summer quite a bit! Every since summer break hit I’ve been bored and trying to get a bunch of followers! My user is @therealguy_ and I have 27k and I haven’t made the popular page yet. Last night I posted a really good picture of myself and got 500 likes in 15 minutes and around 800 in 30. It really frustrates me because I’ll see Someone get less likes than me and make it. Do you know how close I’m getting or if the popular page is just getting stricter and you need more likes or what?

  72. Melinda  August 11, 2012

    Interesting….I still haven’t made it there yet but you never know! I guess the point of it is for it be a surprise :)
    FOLLOW ME @missmemi

  73. nathan  August 16, 2012

    i get 300+ likes in 10 minutes but i don’t get on the pop page

    • Chris Smith  August 16, 2012

      Welcome to the new Instagram. That’s just how the popular page works these days.

  74. jack  August 27, 2012

    hey im just wondering, i have 215 followers, and get barely any likes? any tips i barely scrape ten at best ahah, do i have zombie followers? or just terrible pics? all feedback is appreciated

    • jack  August 27, 2012

      @jackbonney is my ig by the way

  75. er  August 27, 2012

    i have 4.7 k followers. how many likes and comments would it take me to get on the popular page? sorry i suck at math.

    • Chris Smith  August 30, 2012

      Seems like the norm these days is about 100 per minute to make it to the popular page. However, this will be influenced by how many other photos are getting likes at a faster rate than yours.

  76. Lord_Mclovin  August 30, 2012

    Oh man I shoulded read the comments first i gave my best, I have just 640 followers so I try to get 64 likes in the first 40 minutes i’ve got 102 likes in 40 minutes i was expecting to pop :( lol

  77. CornishMonster  October 11, 2012

    I have just hit 10k followers, my photos are unique,Brit and colourful and I have never made it to the popular page?

    IG NAME: @CornishMonster

  78. Matthew  October 16, 2012

    Lately I have been seeing pictures on the popular page with only 40-100 likes, but have 40+ comments in the first couple mins that they are posted up. Unless this is a Instagram glitch of course.

  79. assurance maladie  October 23, 2012

    Je vous remercie pour cet article riche en informations. Bonne journée

    • Chris Smith  October 23, 2012

      Vous êtes les bienvenus. Bonne chance dans votre voyage Instagram.

  80. Kay Mason @mason_5  November 7, 2012

    If to get on the popular page you have to outdo yourself, so to speak, is this the reason why so many popular instagrammers change to new accounts so often? I seem to be reading a lot of ‘follow my back up account’ post recently and think that it might be to do with getting on the popular page?
    Am I right?


  81. Ida  November 20, 2012

    I blocked a user that frequently shows up on the popular page, why am I still seeing their photos on the popular page? I don’t want to see their photos at all…Isn’t that the whole point in blocking a user? Can someone please explain this to me? Thank you!

    • Chris Smith  November 20, 2012

      Blocking a user does not prevent you from seeing their photos on the “Explore” page. Blocking them immediately unfollows them (if you didn’t do that yourself) which means their images won’t show up in your “Home” feed. Blocking a user also forces their account to unfollow you. It doesn’t however remove comments from your photos from this user (don’t ask me why, it really should).

  82. precious ritter  November 25, 2012

    Chris could yhuu tell me if my photos are good enough to become IG famous ? please

  83. precious ritter  November 25, 2012

    My IG is imthat_bihh

  84. Anything_austin88  December 11, 2012

    Take a look at my account,(Anything_Austin88) I just set it up last night, and well I have about 110 followers and most of my photos get over 100 likes within 30 minutes, shouldn’t I make the popular page?? I know it isn’t on the high amount of likes alone but my likes to followers is over 100 percent. Thanks for your time!


    • Chris Smith  December 12, 2012

      Hi Austin,
      Things have really changed since I wrote this article! If you haven’t read the two related articles yet, I’d suggest you do that. To summarize, the game changed when Instagram went from 5 million users to over 100 million. Today, to even have a shot at the Popular page, you need 500+ likes in the first 5 minutes of posting the image. That kind of activity is generally only attainable by people who have 10,000 followers or more. New comers who aren’t celebrities basically have no chance to make the Popular page.

  85. champus_  December 24, 2012

    i have now 650 likes on one of my photos but iam not on the popular page ?? wtf ?? check out my instagram gallery Champus_

  86. Anna  January 5, 2013


    I don’t know where else to go and i just really want an answer with this issue that I’ve been having on my account and I wanna know if it’s only happening to me. It started on January 2, 2013, every time I post a picture half of my followers are not able to see it on their feed! I asked the people that I interact with all the time if they can see my posts and they said only when they go to my page. I have also noticed that everyone is making it to the popular page now. My photos still make it to the popular page but I don’t get that much likes and followers like I used to. I already emailed IG about this issue but they sent me an email saying “Unfortunately, we do not offer support for privacy questions or abuse reports from this email alias. If you are writing in to report abuse, please visit the following article to learn about steps you can take”. I currently have 232k followers and I hope this isn’t because people are reporting my page.

  87. Jarrod  January 10, 2013

    Hey great article. Just wondering if you can help me. I did everything you said in the article but didn’t make the popular page. I added a new photo. I have 29 followers. I got 40 likes in 30 minutes. 51 likes in 40 minutes. So why didn’t I get to the popular page? Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Chris Smith  January 14, 2013

      The rules have changed in a big way. See my other related (and linked) articles for a full explanation. To summarize, only people with 1000s of followers make the Popular page now.

      • s  March 7, 2013

        You have to look beyond the popular page for good photos nowadays. It’s just a numbers game.
        I have some nice pics if you want to take a look? @smartassammie

  88. Jenansays  January 14, 2013

    Hi Chris,
    I’m interested in gaining spastic type of followers. I’m launching a business soon and would like your advise into how to gain many followers in a short amount of time if there is such a thing. I know with my company eventually I will have many followers but I’m truly looking for that short cut. :) Please advise.

    Thank you and my apology if this question have been answered before.


  89. niallcouldyounot  February 7, 2013

    But but I have 15k followers and when I had 14k I got like 1k likes in 3 hours but I can’t get 1.5k in 40 minutes that’s impossibleeeeeeee

  90. lee b  February 13, 2013

    Hey i have 3600 followers and i get about 500 likes per picture. And i dont make the popular page, why is that? Also how will i know if i made the popular page?

    • Chris Smith  February 19, 2013

      The rules have changed, have a look at the updated articles I have posted. If you make the popular page your news feed will tell you.

  91. Tashoakley  March 6, 2013

    I have 260,000 followers. Every one of my photos made the popular page for the last 6 months. Until 5 days ago. Someone reported one of my old photos and now I have indeed been blocked from the popular page. It also happened to my best friend with 180,000 followers. It’s not a myth, Instagram is blocking from the popular page! @tashoakley

  92. Tronja Nagra  March 10, 2013

    If you are a pro athlete or a celebrity yes your photos will make it to the popular page even if the photos are not good!! So where does that leave photos that will never be noticed?

  93. chris hughes  June 1, 2013

    Ok I have 1594 followers and i have over 300 likes on one of my photos and it still hasnt got into the popular page.why is this?

  94. M.Cast  June 12, 2013

    Great article, it’s good to know that!

    I’ve been trying to reach the popular page, I want my art to get “known”, but I have 1900 followers and 1600 are ghost followers, it sucks.

  95. Lauren  June 27, 2013

    Do u mine helping me to 10k by New Years 2014? I have 1.8k almost 2k
    Ig: dipdyed_hipsster
    I get alot of comments and likes but I comment on other people’s pics and it works most of the time if their nice! Maybe check it out? :)

  96. Cortez  September 2, 2013

    Your writing is like realy good. oh and my names cortez. and I’ve been trying to figure out how to get on the popular page. I have been using insta for about a year now and I have 300 followers. I was wondering how many likes❤would I have to get on a photo to make it to the popular page.

    If u could please respond that would mean the world to me Becouse I have been looking for this for so long and I finally found something Oh and if your thinking whyI’m not couculating this myself is Becouse 1. I’m so confused 2. Im horable at math So yeah please get back to me

    • Chris Smith  October 1, 2013

      In today’s Instagram world you have to be a celebrity or an attractive young person who spends hours on end on IG to get enough followers to make it to the “Popular Page”. It requires hundreds if not thousands of likes within 5-10 minutes of posting the image to make it these days.

  97. Sarah Freedman  September 12, 2013

    How do you know if one of your pictures reaches the popular page?

  98. Ivan  November 10, 2013

    I have 20k followers I get about 280 likes in 30 minutes sometimes even more depending on the picture and I have never made the popular page I would like to understand why :(

  99. Mason Jolly  November 10, 2013

    I have over 400 likes on one a day ago how much does it take?


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