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.
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.
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.
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.