Ladies and gentlemen, big changes are afoot in the social media universe and your feeds will never be the same! Just last week, Instagram debuted a new news feed algorithm which presents and sorts posts, not by chronological order, but “based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting, and the timeliness of the post.” The move follows the change made by Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, and more recently, Twitter. Why the change?
According to Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom, the new news feed will improve the user experience: “On average, people miss about 70 percent of the posts in their Instagram feed. What this is about is making sure that the 30 percent you see is the best 30 percent possible.” Fair enough. Particularly for those who aren’t glued to their news feed, this sounds like welcome news. But make no mistake, this is primarily a business decision.
Instagram parent Facebook has been on a financial tear recently, but its getting more and more difficult with declining user growth for them to maintain revenue growth at a rate that pleases Wall St. (remember, Facebook is now a publicly traded company). Instagram is one of the company’s prized properties and most underutilized revenue-wise. In 2015, Instagram revenues were upwards of $600 million, a relatively tiny sum compared to the reach and quality of the platform. According to eMarketer, this figure is estimated to increase by 150% in 2016. How will Instagram supposedly accomplish that seemingly daunting feat? By putting the foot on the monetization pedal! So what does this all mean?
For one, your feeds will be populated with many more “sponsored ads.” We’ve already seen this change over the past few months. But more importantly, those accounts you didn’t necessarily “like” or “comment” on, but enjoyed looking at when they pop in your news feed, may not appear anymore. The algorithm will present posts, not chronologically, but based on what it perceives as your level of interest in them.
Guidance on how to keep ahead of the changes, and what to expect:
- Be an engaging follower to the accounts you want to appear in your feed. Basically, don’t be a ghost follower to the accounts you love. Liking and commenting will ensure they don’t disappear!
- Clean up your accounts so that you can keep on top of accounts relevant to you.
- What you may see happen as a result of this is a slight decrease in likes but an increase in engagement since the people that are viewing your profile truly want to see it. Likes may decrease because the fly by viewers might not see your account.
- An increase in the number of your pictures making it to the Instagram popular page! Ever wonder why every now and then you get an incredibly higher number of likes on a post and a surge of new followers? It’s likely because of this!
- Your feed will still present itself chronologically but accounts you may have seen before might be missing.
- Expect to see more sponsored ads in your feed.
- Resist that temptation to buy followers and likes. We know it seems unfair when your peers are racking up thousands of ‘paid for likes’ but if the truth be known, there are general industry ratios of likes to followers that yes, even account for engagement! So it is in fact obvious to others and companies!
- Above all friends, keep it positive! If you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all. We don’t need to make more room for negativity and hatred, there is enough of that already.
Updated: May 18th, 2017