Instagram has announced yesterday that they are following in the likes of Twitter and parent company, Facebook, by changing users’ feeds to a personalised algorithm. A user will not wake up to a reverse chronological order of posts that reaches back to where they last logged in. Instead, posts will be ordered by relevance to the specific user. In practice this means breakfast posts will be mixed with sunset posts. Instagram is now truly a global platform, with more than 75% of users living outside the US. The countries with the strongest growth in 2015 were Brazil, Japan, and Indonesia. Users typically follow other users from all over the world.
Instagram’s new algorithm reflects that rapid growth and internationalism – users are no longer typically following only those whom they know personally. In theory, new feeds will contain less pictures of forgotten school friend’s brunch snaps, and will include more relevant content tailored to the likes of the user. Businesses can take advantage of this change, and continue to create dynamic and inspiring content that will now flow more seamlessly through users’ feeds.
Should Instagram be prepared for a backlash? Users have been positively engaged with the format currently, as it places celebrity, news, and friends in simple chronological order. Backlash surely depends on how accurate the new algorithms are able to show engaging and desired content to users. The feature could theoretically be tweaked and users could be sated with a ‘see more posts like this’ and a ‘see less posts like this’ feature attached to images on their newsfeed.
Critics of the move seem to overlook that this is a natural progression for Instagram. In September 2015, the social media platform surpassed the 400 million users mark. The site now has over 3.5 billion likes daily. This means an incomprehensible number of images passing through an ever-growing amount of screens. A curated feed on one’s homepage means that superior content will get through to the user, and drive up engagement and reach, should it be relevant for the end user.
However, this means that organic reach will presumably dwindle on Instagram because of this move and is a stumbling block for businesses looking to organically reach their followers. Content, once again, has to get smarter and advertising has to be employed to reach new (and now, already engaged) fans when campaigns or content need to be amplified.
by Jenny Connelly