Instagram users: are you ready for change?
The photo and video sharing app is taking a lead from its owners Facebook and testing an algorithm based timeline. Amazingly, people currently miss on average 70 percent of their feeds*. Instagram wants to change this and improve the user experience.
The simplicity of the app is one of its strengths. An Instagram feed is just photos, videos and comments in chronological order. There’s something reassuring about this basic setup. Could messing with a winning formula have a negative effect?
Based on the evidence from the Facebook feed’s transformation in recent years, probably not. Many users’ Instagram feeds clearly contain more content than they can consume. As with Facebook, cleaning up the feed and optimising it to display the most relevant content will provide a better user experience in the long term.
What does this mean for users?
You’ll no longer see photos and videos in chronological order. Instead they will be prioritised based on the strength of your relationship with the person posting, the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content and and the timeliness of the post. Your ongoing instagram browsing habits will be analysed and assessed by Instagram’s algorithm, and used to refine and shape your experience of using the app.
Importantly, all of the posts will still be there - simply in a different order.
On a practical level, if you miss a post from your best friend whilst you were away from your phone for a number of hours, Instagram will still place this photo at the top of your feed the next time you open the app. So you’ll never miss a photo of your friend’s superfood raw chocolate brownie again!
What does this mean for brands?
The switch to an algorithm-led timeline may help brands reach target potential customers and loyal followers even more effectively, increasing reach, engagement and conversion rates. Instagram already serves ads based on information about what users do on Instagram and Facebook, as well as information from third-party sites and apps. But we assume the new timeline will allow this targeted ad content to be put in even more relevant and prominent places within users’ feeds. It might not only be a picture of your friend’s latest kitchen creation you find pinned to the top of your feed.
When will I see this change?
This change is currently in testing. Instagram are yet to confirm when it will be rolled out to all users. However, they do say that this new experience will be seen “in the coming months”. So watch your feed closely!
* Instagram blog