As many predicted, Instagram announced last week it will be moving towards an algorithm-based newsfeed for its users over the next couple of months.
Issued in an official blog post, Instagram - which is owned by Facebook - claimed that people miss on average 70% of their feeds. The new algorithm will focus on order to begin with, with posts being reorganised in the user’s feed based on relevance rather than chronology.
“To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.”
“If your favorite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in. And when your best friend posts a photo of her new puppy, you won’t miss it.”
At the moment all content from your followed accounts will still appear, but the suggestion is that further down the line some posts will be completely whittled out.
Whilst personally I would be quite happy not seeing *another* ‘smashed avo on rye bread #eatclean’ brunch post, many others took to Twitter to express their uproar:
What does it mean for advertisers
Instagram is proving itself to be a nice little earner, not only did it bring in $595 million in ad revenue in 2015, eMarketer forecasts revenues of $1.48 billion and $2.81 billion in 2016 and 2017 respectively - that’s a 400% increase in two years and would represent 14% of Facebook’s total ad revenue.
Early thoughts are that the move will be good for current advertisers. The idea being if the algorithm serves to maximise engagement and a user’s interest in the content they are seeing, they will spend longer on the app - making it more likely they will see an ad. It’ll also provide better targeting insights and increase the likelihood of being able to drive an action.
The issue will be for brands which have been successfully using Instagram as an organic channel to reach customers, but not yet ventured into the realms of paid advertising. When Facebook implemented an algorithmic feed, it took away what was originally a free communication line to customers. By slashing the organic reach percentages, Facebook made it almost impossible for brands to get their voice across without the help of advertising.
But don’t forget Instagram, *in theory*, should still reward engaging relevant content, both paid and unpaid. The challenge now will be making sure all brand content is just that - relevant and engaging - and not just relying on peak time slots. If 70% of content is indeed missed, perhaps the new landscape will be an improvement on what before was essentially an arena of random luck.
However if that theory simply isn’t being put into practice it’s time for brands to make the call - start competing for the top slots or prepare to fall by the wayside.