Instagram Story Viewer Order: How Does It Work?

Updated on February 28, 2024

12 min to read

Content Writer

Published May 29, 2023

Instagram Story Viewer Order: How Does It Work?
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Wondering how the Instagram Story viewer order works? 

You’re not alone. 

Instagram users, social media managers, and agencies endeavor to learn about the Instagram Story views order so they can leverage the insight they get to improve their social media campaigns. 

Continue reading to learn how Instagram sorts your Story viewers list, why it matters, and how to leverage the information.

Table of contents

What you’ll learn:

  • What is an Instagram Story Viewer anyway?
  • After 24 hours, can you still see who viewed your Instagram Stories?
  • Can you see who views your Instagram Stories?
  • Can someone view your Story anonymously?
  • Who appears at the top of your Instagram Story viewers list?
  • How does Instagram sort Story viewers?
  • Why does your Instagram Story view order matter?
  • Tips for creating awesome Instagram Stories
  • Customers Also Ask
  • Tell your client’s Story with Vista Social

What is an Instagram Story Viewer anyway?

It’s a feature in IG that shows you the list of people who viewed your Stories.

Leverage this feature to develop strategic partnerships or collaborations with other IG users.

If certain IG users view your Stories regularly, consider contacting them to initiate a conversation and form meaningful partnerships.

“Instagram Stories are a super easy way to create and offer an authentic way to connect with your audience. And, the fact that they’re temporary makes them the perfect testing ground for new ideas.” – Michelle Bali, Learn With Shopify

Can you see who views your Instagram Stories? 

Let’s start with the question: Can you see who views your Instagram Stories? 

Yes—and Instagram made sure everyone knows about it. 

When publishing Instagram Stories, you can see the list of Instagram users who viewed your Story. Simply tap ‘Activity’ in the bottom-left corner of your Story with a thumbnail of the top three viewers’ photos (it’s really hard to miss).

Tap 'Activity' to check.
Image Source:

Instagram will then pull up your Instagram Story viewer list along with their reactions (if any). You can also send them a message or manage your connection on Instagram from there. 

Pull up your Instagram Story viewer list.
Image Source:

While it makes sense for this list to be in chronological order, Instagram sorts users based on other factors instead. 

Once your Instagram Story is active, it will start gathering views over the next 24 hours. Unlike Instagram videos, which only show the total view count, Instagram Stories reveal who viewed your active Stories.

However, only you can see the list of Story viewers, and as of writing, there’s no counter that shows how often a user replayed your Story.

Can someone view your Story anonymously?

Instagram introduced Stories to help regular users and businesses alike to connect and foster relationships within the platform. You could even argue that that’s the whole point of the Instagram Story viewers list. 

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop certain individuals from finding workarounds. 

A quick Google search will pull up tools, dubbed “Instagram Story viewers,” that allow users to view Stories anonymously. Some even offer to download Stories for you — anonymously, of course. 

The fact is, they work (some of them, at least). And while they’re generally harmless, they can be problematic if someone is deliberately stalking or spying on your Instagram profile.  

If you’re concerned about anonymous Instagram Story viewers, an ironclad solution is to switch your profile to private. The downside, of course, is that it’s highly detrimental to your marketing initiatives.

After all, switching to a private profile greatly diminishes your visibility and reach. 

At the end of the day, going private for the sake of fending off anonymous viewers isn’t a fair tradeoff.

Just be mindful that some people who may be interested in your brand may want to keep their identities hidden. As a business, your only choice is to respect their wishes.

After 24 hours, can you still see who viewed your Instagram Stories?

A quick answer is—YES, and BUT act quickly.

You can still see who viewed your Stories up to 48 hours after you post them.

Stories past 24 hours after posting will be saved in your archive folder.

So, if you plan to investigate who checked your stories, do so within 48 hours.

Also, ensure you’ve set your account settings on IG to archive your Stories.

Simply tap the horizontal three-dot icon from your Profile page to access your Archives section.

Who appears at the top of your Instagram Story viewers list?

It’s easy to notice a pattern when observing your Instagram Story viewers list. 

On a personal or creator account, you’ll probably find family members, close friends, and so on. 

For businesses, you’ll likely find your most loyal followers, customers, and potential business partners. 

Long story short, the people at the top of your Instagram Story viewers list are some of the best people you should engage with.

Remember, Instagram Stories only last 24 hours. If users appear in your viewers list, your brand is still fresh in their minds.

There’s a good chance they’ll respond positively if you engage them directly — be it through a DM, comment, or post reaction. Just be sure to keep your language on-brand and stay on topic. 

So, how does Instagram determine your most engaged Instagram audience? 

What about those at the bottom of the list? Are they automatically your most disengaged followers?

Let’s explore this.

How does Instagram sort Story viewers?

Similar to Instagram following list order, Instagram doesn’t fully disclose how the Story viewers list is sorted.  

You can read the Instagram community guidelines, policies, and Help Center articles all you want. Instagram DOES NOT expressly state the rules on how Story viewers are sorted.

However, the Instagram algorithm takes into consideration a handful of factors when determining the Stories viewers list.

Here’s what we know so far: 

1. Initial Instagram Stories viewers list order

If the Story has less than 50 views and zero interactions, the Instagram Story viewers list is in reverse chronological order. 

This is actually pretty easy to verify. 

Whenever you post a Story, new viewers will have their names displayed in bold. They also appear at the very top of the Instagram Story viewer list. 

2. Reactions and replies

If someone reacts to your client’s Story (like, emoji, or avatar), they will always appear at the top of the list alongside other users who reacted. 

The same goes for those who reply to Instagram Stories via Direct Messages (DMs). In this case, a snippet of their reply will be visible in the Story viewers list. 

This makes it easier to decide whether to respond or hit them with an Instagram restrict vs block

3. Recent interactions

Past 50 viewers are where the Story viewers list goes haywire. 

However, there are still obvious patterns that everyone can easily confirm. 

For one, you often see your most interacting users at the top of the Story viewer list. These are followers who frequently engage your Instagram content, be it through comments, likes, or DMs. 

4. Profile views

While it’s hard to verify on your own, several reports—including countless independent experiments on Reddit—confirm that profile visits greatly impact the Instagram Story viewer order. 

If you see an account that appears consistently at the top of the Story viewer list, they’re probably among your client’s most engaged followers.

5. Facebook friends

Some users also notice that their top Instagram Story viewers are also connected to them on Facebook. 

Ever since Instagram was acquired by Meta (formerly the Facebook company), the integration between the two social networks is more prominent than ever. You can sync profile photos between accounts, automatically cross-promote Stories, synchronize contacts, and more.

6. Non-followers

Accounts that don’t follow your account but view your Story are automatically placed at the bottom of the list. 

This is something you can easily verify, especially if you or your client has a public Instagram account. Just look at the bottom of your Instagram Story views list, and you should see unfamiliar non-followers.

Interestingly, there’s a high chance that these non-followers are fake accounts or “bots” intended for spam. 

7. Instagram updates

If there’s one surefire factor that affects your Instagram Story viewers order, it’s the unpredictability of Instagram app updates. 

Anything and everything you learn in this post may no longer be true a week, month, or even year from now. 

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As such, always be on the lookout for the latest Instagram updates. See if anything changes in your (or your client’s) Instagram Story viewers list and try to work out which factors above remain relevant. 

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Why does your Instagram Story view order matter?

At this point, you should be more than equipped to make sense of your Instagram Story viewers’ order. 

The question is, why does it matter in the first place?

Here are the top reasons why every agency or social media manager should pay attention to Story views:

  • Optimize your content strategy for Instagram engagement: The users who consistently appear at the top of your Story viewers list are probably your client’s biggest fans. Analyze them to learn their preferences—their profiles are a goldmine of potential hashtags, content formats, and Instagram notes ideas with the highest engagement returns. 
  • Win over disengaged audiences: Make your way to the bottom of your Story viewers list to find your client’s not-so-engaged followers. Analyzing their profiles will tell you a lot about the content they enjoy, helping you tweak your strategy to increase your Story views and engagement.
  • Help clients land quality prospects: Being at the top of the Story viewers list is a strong indication of interest. For clients, these users are prime targets for their lead-generation efforts.

“As you engage, the relationship with your community will grow stronger. And, when you have people who trust you and believe in what you’re saying, that’s when you’ll begin to see a greater ROI.” — Sarah Nicole Landry, The Birds Papaya

Lastly, monitoring your Instagram Story viewers will help you create better Stories over time. 

What you want are multiple names sitting at the top spot of the viewers’ list. Diversify your strategy until you find a set of repeatable Story ideas that cater to more followers. 

Tips for creating awesome Instagram Stories

Happy with your client’s Instagram Story viewers list? 

Getting to know their most engaged audiences and adapting your strategy to their preferences is just the beginning. 

Below are additional tips to help you make the most out of Instagram Stories: 

1. Use a social media scheduler with direct publishing to Instagram Stories

Vista Social is one of the first SMM platforms to ever offer direct publishing to Instagram Stories. 

If your client has an Instagram Business account, simply connect their profile to Vista Social, launch the publisher tool, and schedule a Story. Vista Social will automatically publish the Story on your client’s behalf—no need to manually post it. 

This is a HUGE advantage compared to other “scheduling” tools that can only set reminders for Instagram Stories.  

To schedule a Story, log in to Vista Social, click ‘Publish,’ and select ‘Publish a single post.’ Prepare your content as usual and select ‘Publish as Story’ in the drop-down menu (below the first comment field). 

Schedule a Story.

Why should you schedule Stories through Vista Social? 

Check these out: 

  • Get posting time suggestions: By analyzing previous content performance, Vista Social determines the best posting times for maximum engagement. You can find and use posting time suggestions in the second step of the publishing process. 
  • Cross-promote in a snap: Want to share your Instagram Story with a wider audience? Vista Social’s unified publisher lets you schedule your Story content—be it a video or image—on multiple social media networks simultaneously. 
  • Stream content curation: With Vista Social, you can create “Smart Publishers” that automatically curate content from authoritative sources. Alternatively, use the bulk publishing option to source content from stock media sites, CSV files, blog RSS feeds, hashtag search results, and more. 

2. Use the ideal dimensions for Instagram Stories 

Believe it or not, Instagram Stories have a “safe area” that ensures the visibility of important elements. This can be a CTA, interactive sticker, brand mention, or hashtag. 

The ideal size for Instagram Stories is 1080×1920—that’s an aspect ratio of 9:16. 

Luckily, you don’t need to learn how to resize photos on Instagram for this. Most modern phones can natively capture videos and photos with that aspect ratio. 

3. Repurpose old content into Stories 

Stories are meant to show a brand’s human and relatable side. 

And what can be more relatable than a short clip or photo dump with your client’s “behind the scenes” shots?

The only rule here is to be as genuine and unfiltered as possible. Just give the audience some context through well-written photo dump captions or perhaps extra elements like text overlays, GIF stickers, and voiceovers. 

If you’re feeling extra creative, you can try learning how to make a Reel with photos and multiple video clips. This will improve your client’s discoverability through Instagram’s dedicated “Reels” and “For You” pages.

4. Use geotags

Trying to reach a local audience? 

Use geotagging to make your Instagram Stories more searchable to users who are interested in a particular spot.

There’s no need to use any fancy tool to add geotags to your Stories. Simply use the “location” sticker, which is one of the first stickers you’ll find in the Story editor. 

Besides offering convenience, the location sticker for Instagram Stories is also smart. 

The timing of your content upload and Story publication doesn’t make a difference. When using the location sticker, it automatically detects the location where the content is originally captured. 

This is a major plus if you have a large collection of pre-recorded content sitting in your phone’s storage.  

5. Don’t be afraid to be in front of your audience

Keep in mind that one of the things that make Instagram Stories special is the sense of being “in the moment.” 

You can’t do this by hiding from the camera. 

Remember, showing your face and communicating with your audience directly is how you build deeper connections. 

It won’t be comfortable at first, especially if you have zero experience in public speaking. But the more you point your camera to your face and speak as if you’re talking to a friend, the faster you’ll overcome this roadblock. 

6. Add subtitles

Here’s a quick tip that every social media marketer must know: use subtitles when publishing video content. 

A lot of people browse social media or use their phones in general while on mute. If your Story content includes a dialogue, you definitely need subtitles to communicate what your Instagram Story actually mean. 

Start with a punchy statement or question to pique the viewer’s interest. You can also open Instagram Stories with mind-blowing statistics to keep them watching. 

7. Save your top Stories as highlights

Expiring after 24 hours is one of the fun quirks of Instagram Stories. But, sometimes, the content is simply too good to let go. 

This is where Story highlights come in.

Put simply, a highlight is a collection of Stories that will remain permanent in your Instagram profile. They retain everything from the original Story, including the stickers, tags, duration, music, and other key elements. 

If you want, you may also upload a unique highlight cover that will draw your audience’s attention. For this, you’ll need a tool like Canva or the built-in image editor in Vista Social

8. Check your analytics 

Finally, no Instagram Story is perfect. 

Even the world’s top social media marketers don’t have a replicable blueprint that guarantees Instagram success.

But don’t worry — even with zero investment in full-service marketing agencies, it’s more than possible to get positive results from Instagram marketing. All you have to do is ditch the guesswork and incorporate data into your decision-making process.

Instagram’s built-in analytics reports provide all the information you need. It will help you identify the weaknesses and strengths in your strategy so you can make the appropriate adjustments.

Some of the analytics data you can obtain are:

  • Accounts reached
  • Impressions
  • Engagement
  • Story interactions
  • Profile visits
  • New follows

Instagram also lets you conduct a deep dive into your Instagram audience’s demographics. In the follower insights report, you’ll find details like your audience’s top cities, age ranges, and most active times.

Use all this information to make informed decisions and improve your Instagram marketing strategy over time. It may take days, weeks, or even months to achieve noticeable progress, but it will definitely happen if you track your analytics diligently.

Customers Also Ask

What does the order of Instagram Story viewers mean?

The order of Instagram Story viewers can help you identify your most active followers. The more engagement and interactions, the higher someone will appear in your Instagram Story viewers list. 

What does it mean if someone is at the top of my Instagram Story views all the time?

If the same person is always at the top of the Instagram Story viewers list, it could be because they engage with your client’s profile a lot. This may come in the form of profile visits, likes, comments, DMs, shares, and so on. 

Can you see how many times someone viewed your Instagram Story?

No, there’s no way to check how many times a specific user views your Instagram Story. You can only identify who saw your Story first since the viewers’ list is sorted in reverse chronological order (this will only work if the Story has less than 50 views). 

Tell your client’s Story with Vista Social

IG Stories is the breakthrough that enabled Instagram to go toe-to-toe with TikTok—the undisputed king of short-form video. 

Stories are compelling, relatable, interactive, and definitely eye-catching. But for Stories to do their best, you need to be equipped with the right SMM solution. 

Vista Social can help take your Instagram marketing strategy to the next level.

With features like AI content generator, posting time suggestions, direct publishing to Stories, and automated content curation, your Instagram storytelling efforts are guaranteed to pay off. 

Try Vista Social today by creating a free account!

About the Author

Content Writer

Jimmy Rodela is a social media and content marketing consultant with over 9 years of experience, with work appearing on sites such as, Yahoo, SEMRush, and SearchEnginePeople. He specializes in social media, content marketing, SaaS, small business strategy, marketing automation, and content development.

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