Instagram’s New Algorithm: A Low-Down

What is it?

As I’m sure many of us are aware, Instagram recently announced that they are changing the way its users will see posts on their feed. The company explained that they are planning to move away from their chronological method and shift to a new algorithm that organizes pictures and videos in users’ feeds based on their interests. Instagram detailed to the Times how the new feed will be ordered:

“Instagram plans to rely on its machine-learning technology and a mix of signals to determine the order of photos and videos in users’ feeds, including the likelihood a person will be interested in the content, the timeliness of the posts and the relationship between the two users. As they are now, posts will be clearly stamped with the date they occurred”

The change has sparked conversation amongst people all over the Internet and since it is one of my favorite and most used apps, I decided to take a deeper look into this change and its implications for brands and consumers.

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Why the change?

Instagram announced the change in a blog post, explaining that “people miss on average 70% of their feeds” and that as the company has grown “it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. …To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most”. While Instagram’s announcement focused mostly on the benefits to the consumer, a closer look at the change shows this shift will also greatly benefit the company’s advertising business. (See Instagram’s full announcement Here).

What it means for brands?

A personalized feed based on users’ interests means that if a brand pays to create and promote quality content, it is likely that their post will be on the top of users feeds. Furthermore, it is likely that only brands that are relevant to a consumer will show up on their feed. This means that consumers will likely see more targeted advertisements that actually interest them, which will likely increase user engagement for brands as well.This change means that brands are going to have to rethink their advertising strategy on Instagram to ensure that they create the most engaging content for consumers.

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While brands with interesting and engaging content will likely benefit from this change, many brands may suffer. In an article posted on digiday.com, several executives from different media companies spoke out about the new algorithm and its affects on brands. Jill Sherman, svp of social strategy at Digitas, explained how brands within verticals that already performs well on Instagram, such as food, pets, and fitness, “will continue to with the algorithm update because it will favor more of what users already like”. Other executives explained the flipside of this algorithm, explaining that, ““Brands with lower budgets and fewer engagements on their content will be squeezed out over time.” Also, brands that are notorious for over-posting and spamming consumers will have to rethink their social strategy, as the new algorithm will force a quality over quantity approach.

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Overall, Instagram’s new algorithm means that brands must focus on creating the most engaging and relevant content for their consumers. If they want to stay at the top of all feeds, brands must take a consumer-centric approach and generate interesting content that people will actually want to see.

While many people are very resistant to any type of change on their favorite platforms, I actually think that this new algorithm may make for a better, more customized feed. Personally, I think that this new algorithm will allow for less spam and random advertisements and more interesting content that is seemingly natural on my newsfeed. I’m sure many of us can remember our initial hesitation when Facebook released the Timeline version of the newsfeed, but it now has become sometime most of us love and use daily. I think that Instagram’s new algorithm could be something similar to Facebook’s Timeline approach, benefiting both brands and consumers.

 

Sources:

http://digiday.com/platforms/winners-losers-instagram-algorithm/

http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/what-instagrams-new-algorithm-could-mean-agencies-and-brands-170243

http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/how-instagrams-new-algorithm-will-affect-your-feed-w167564

http://n4bb.com/instagram-changes-algorithmic-update-feed-bump-relevant-posts/

http://blog.instagram.com/post/141107034797/160315-news

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/16/technology/instagram-feed.html 

 

12 comments

  1. Great post, Paige! It’s really interesting to hear that we miss 70% of content in our Instagram feeds. There are definitely days when I don’t have much time to check and feel so behind that I give up on catching up all together. While I’m personally resistant to this change, I do agree that it could make our feeds more customized and efficient.

  2. Paige, thanks for explaining the reasoning and implications of the new feed. I agree that the change may make my feed more personal; however, I wonder if this will increase the number of advertisements I see – now that I’m being targeted and to what extent I may miss some posts that I would have otherwise seen. I’m curious to see how this will change users’ experience with Instagram overtime and if the algorithm change is here to stay.

  3. Interesting post, Paige. I’m not a huge fan of this change. I don’t even like when Facebook does this not to talk of Instagram, mainly because my interests change frequently,therefore what IF thinks is relevant for my news feed today, may not be relevant tomorrow. I just don’t see how this new algorithm could keep up with people like myself. I liked the way it was before, the organic flow of it all, however, I could see the benefit from a business standpoint, and at the end of the day, it seems like that’s ultimately what it’s about.

  4. This is such an interesting post Paige, I am glad you wrote about this. I actually did not know that Instagram was making this shift, so I am intrigued to see how this will work. I think it is a very good idea and wonder if they will keep older yet relevant posts in your feed. The biggest issue that I tend to have with Instagram is if I do not log on to Instagram for a day or two, I will miss out on photos that are important to me (either posted by friends or brands). Overall, I think this will benefit more well known brands and make the lesser known brands have to work harder to make their advertisements quantitative vs. quantitative. And hopefully this helps with spam, as you mentioned.

  5. Great synopsis on this change! While I understand that it makes sense for Instagram to follow it’s partner companies lead when it comes to this algorithm, I think it needs to be noted why it doesn’t work for this specific platform. People tend to curate those they choose to follow in Instagram, while they feel more obligated to be friends with a broader scope of people on Facebook. This leads to a necessity for the timeline feature, only seeing the top posts so one doesn’t have to scroll endlessly for the content they desire. However, Instagram adhering to a chronological set up is beneficial because of the users strong desires for likes on their posts (meaning they want as many people as possible to see it asap) and seeing a wide variety of content, not just the highlights.

  6. Wow paige, you have a way with words. I am glad instagram is changing the algo. There are simply too many people posting riff raff on my timeline and it gets very difficult to find things that i want to double tap. Do you think there will be an option to switch back to the old algo? that would make everyone happy

  7. Paige, interesting post. I’ve picked up on the recent changes Instagram began to implement and would often wonder how much users feel they are affected. Now seeing how the average user misses out on 70% of their feed, I better understand why the new algorithm was applied. I still find it funny they claim that “it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share”, but are looking to expand on advertisement on their platform.

  8. Interesting post, I did not know about this new algorithm but I am onboard. Recently, I’ve noticed that it has been hard to keep up since so many of the people I follow post instagrams, especially after spring break. I feel like this algorithm will help me get a highlight of posts from the people that I follow. I wonder if it will take away from brands and people that I don’t interact with as much or that I dont know about. Will be interesting to keep an eye out for how well this works.

  9. I was not aware that Instagram was going to follow in Facebook’s footsteps here with an algorithm of their own. I was also hesitant when Facebook launched their Timeline but I have grown to love it and I end up seeing more content that I like. I am curious to see if this will work for Instagram because I feel like Facebook is easier to navigate around the site, especially on the mobile app, where as Instagram is less flexible, but I am willing to have an open mind after the success that Facebook’s timeline has had.

  10. I remember tweeting about this very topic, exactly what you presented here: brands must create more engaging content. The feed might be polarizing in general, but I think our discussion in class today (with your insight, of course!) reveals that FB/Insta will roll out different feeds in the future. I agree with you that these feeds will be, as a result, more tailored to things we enjoy. It will force users to carefully choose who they follow and what they decide to double-tap. Thanks so much for the post!!

  11. yifanhong04233 · ·

    Great post! I think the Instagram management has to be aware is that users, instead of advertisement, are the most important assest for Instagram. They have to find a balance between advertisement and our own choice. If the first page of Instagram is full of advertisement instead of our friends’ posts, I think people will soon abandon this app.

  12. Nice post. I’m glad you can still remember your feeling when FB launched news feed. The time is quickly closing when my students will have been on FB at the time.

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