How the Instagram algorithmic feed will affect you

By Simon Ensor
Social Media 15.06.2016

We all knew it was imminent and now it has happened: Instagram has rolled out its algorithmic feed. A couple of months ago, we discussed the proposed change in this post, where we touched on the initial reactions and generally considered the update to be a positive one. Now that the change has been implemented, we are going to take a closer look at how the update will affect users and marketing efforts alike.

Why the change?

Previously, the abundance of images in our Instagram feeds has been arranged in reverse chronological order. However, the brains behind the social media platform expressed concern that the average user was missing a high proportion of their feed:

“On average, people miss 70 percent of their feeds. It’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share as Instagram has grown. Over the past few months, we brought this new way of ordering posts to a portion of the community, and we found that people are liking photos more, commenting more and generally engaging with the community in a more active way.”

In the constantly evolving battle to stay relevant, Instagram followed in the footsteps of its parent company, Facebook, to introduce a new curated feed. The aim is to provide a more refined and useful experience for the end-user and to essentially make it easier for businesses to execute successful social media marketing campaigns.

What does this mean for marketers?

According to Instagram, the basis of this algorithmic feed is that “posts you’re likely to care about most will appear higher in your feed”. In theory, this should be great news for marketers. Reaching the customers who care the most about your brand and who are most likely to engage is the marketing dream. Nevertheless, there is understandably some concern around the reality of this.

Firstly, basing the algorithms on past interactions may give a limited view of a person’s interest. For example, perhaps one evening you were feeling particularly peckish while scrolling through your Instagram feed and interacted with several of those enticing foodie posts. Does this mean that your feed will now be bursting with pizza pictures when really you just want to see what your favourite celebrities are up to? Sure, it will probably take some time to tweak, but given that the masterminds at Facebook will likely be passing on some of their algorithmic knowledge, there’s no doubt that they will be able to refine the algorithms in time.

Many have expressed concern that the content posted by their brand or business will lose engagement as a result of being pushed further down the feeds of their customers. However, if this is the case then it could be a sign that your content was not engaging enough in the first place. If you are pushing out valuable, useful and engaging content then it should naturally be generating a wider organic reach as a result of the curated feed. Perhaps this is the kick you need to revamp your social media strategy?

Nevertheless, it is understandable that businesses who have yet to start their Instagram journey, or who have only recently begun, may feel as though they have an extra struggle on their hands. Getting over the initial inertia can be daunting but it is highly advisable to take that step if you intend to make use of such an invaluable marketing tool.

The rise of paid advertising

It has been pointed out that the change could be a sneaky way of boosting the use of paid advertising on the site. Fuelling fear that crucial content will be missed could prompt brands to invest in more paid advertising in a bid to get their posts seen. Instagram have also expanded their advertising options this year, conveniently coinciding with the new algorithmic feed.

In general, Instagram increasingly appears to be positioning itself as a crucial tool for brands and businesses. The company have also announced their plan to roll out some exciting new business tools. Free business profiles, easy paid promotion and analytics are all part of this new business era. Once Instagram have started to implement the scheme we’ll blog in more detail about how these can help your business.

How have the people reacted?

We always enjoy reading the multitude of reactions following a big change to one of our beloved social media platforms. In all honesty, we struggled to find many positive reactions but that is often the case with a big change – the hysterical tends to override the reasonable.

tweet about instagram feed
tweet about instagram chronology
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Tweet disliking instagram feed ordering
tweet liking instagram order

Our advice

Although the change may seem like the be all and end all to some, please let us assure you that it is not. It seems to us that Instagram are actively looking for ways to improve the marketing experience for businesses and this can only be a good thing. Some brands may feel as though they have lost the free ride with this new push towards a pay-to-play social media world. However, we view the change as a way for your brand to cut through the content clutter and stand out. Plus, we always recommend a bit of paid advertising as part of your social campaigns in order to leverage your best posts and boost engagements.

Ultimately the golden rules of social media still remain the same. As long as you are pushing out great content then you needn’t worry. If you are concerned that your social media strategy may not be up to scratch then perhaps it is time to review your approach. If you need a little helping hand then we are always here to help – just give us a call and we’ll happily discuss your requirements.

Happy Instagramming!

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