Instagram Joins the Club with a New Algorithm
It’s nothing we haven’t seen before but for us advertisers, will this change hurt or help? The photo-sharing service plans to begin testing an algorithm-based personalized feed for users, similar to one already used by its parent company, Facebook. That means it would shift away from the strictly reverse chronological order that the service has used since it began in 2010. Instead, Instagram will place the photos and videos it thinks you will most want to see from the people you follow toward the top of your feed, regardless of the time those posts were originally shared.
Why make the change? According to Instagram, users miss 70 percent of the posts that show up in their feeds, meaning they only see 30 percent of the content posted by users and brands they follow. Those numbers are also accurate for brands on the popular site. However, according to a report from Forrester Research last year, although Instagram engagement slipped significantly between 2014 and 2015, the social platform still outperforms Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+.
It’s not yet clear how Instagram will prioritize which posts get pushed into news feeds other than that they’ll be based on users’ interests and will likely incentivize brands to run posts as ads. The fear is that Instagram users will simply stop simply unfollow brands if the platform begins to look like one giant banner ad. If it appears that these new algorithms artificially promote ads, people may feel like they are losing the organic nature of the site which is why they use it in the first place.
On the other hand, Kevin Del Rosario, associate director of social media at Huge, an NYC Digital Media Agency, argued that the impending algorithm won’t hurt brands.
“If we’re creating content that is truly relevant and engaging for our fans, we hope that any algorithm won’t hurt our chances of reaching fans,” he said. “Algorithms were made to cut out the clutter, so it urged brands to ‘cut the crap’ in terms of content, too.”
Mike Krieger, Instagram’s co-founder and chief technology officer, said the changes to the feed may be less disruptive than those of other networks, considering Instagram is centered almost entirely on photos, not words.
It does not appear that we will wake up tomorrow and have a whole new Instagram and it appears the changes will occur gradually. With every change to social media, comes changes for our industry but as always, we’re here to help you navigate through the sometimes murky waters to make sure you’re on the cutting edge!