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The Instagram Top Nine craze is dead – but what is replacing it?

Instagram top nine
(Image credit: Top Nine)

For the last five years, the Instagram Top Nine trend has flooded our feeds as it generates your posts with the most amount of engagement. The craze started in 2016 and has since become an annual end-of-year tradition for Instagram users who use the platform both professionally and personally – but this year, it's all changing. 

Usually around now, you would start seeing 3x3 grids appearing on your Instagram feed displaying people’s most popular photos from the year. Normally the photos are automatically generated using an algorithm that susses out your most liked and commented-on photos. It’s a great way of finding out which posts were most engaged with (especially if you’ve got a business account) as well as reminiscing on your most Insta-worthy moments. 

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This year, though, Instagram won’t allow users to employ a simple API (Application Programming Interface) to generate it for you. This means that apps such as Top Nine and the website bestnine.net have become pretty obsolete. While you can still use the Top Nine app to generate a template you fill in yourself, the excitement and surprise of discovering your most engaged posts have been removed.

Instagram has, however, launched a new feature of its own called Instagram Playback – a limited-time function that will enable users to look back on special moments from their stories. While it will automatically generate the Playback year-in-review, users will have the option to add, choose and remove certain stories before they share.

The removal of the Instagram Top Nine feature is bound to cause some upset among those who look forward each year to seeing their most Insta-worthy posts, but Stories are arguably more popular on Instagram these days. While posts enable you to share a selection of images of an event, Stories enable you to share video and photo content as they happen – and perhaps it makes more sense to create a roundup of these memories instead. 

There's been no comment from Instagram as to why it decided to remove the Top Nine feature, but it has made clear that it thinks the Playback feature is a better alternative. You should see the option to view your Instagram Playback at the top of your feed next time you open the app, but remember – it's only a limited-time feature. 

If you’re still desperate to create your top nine, you’ll have to trawl through your feed and manually work out which posts were the most engaged with. For those who aren’t that fussed, though, it might be nice to have a look back on some of your most popular Stories. After all, they’re probably less filtered than your posts…

Read more: 

How to use Instagram
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Hannah Rooke

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specialises in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylised product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.