Instagram shared the news on March 15th that they are changing to an algorithm based feed rather than showing posts in chronological order. I’ve seen a few people mention they were confused about the updates being made to Instagram and not sure what to do about it so I’ve put together a quick summary below.
The Instagram Algorithm Update – What’s Happening to Instagram?
Instead of the feed being shown in the order posted, this new algorithm will take a couple of factors into account such as post engagement, relevancy, the relationship with the person posting, timeliness and previously liked content. It will then reorder the feed to show what it thinks you’ll be most interested in first based on your usage. The feed will still show all posts, they will just be in a different order.
This update is really making your feed about you – based on YOUR likes, YOUR comments and YOUR interaction. We already see this kind of thing in the explore tab. Instagram are going to show you the best of what you’re following first, that is the high quality gorgeous images that have a lot of interaction. The darker, blurry, low quality photos with no engagement will be pushed down the bottom. You’re still going to see all photos, especially if you’re like me and scroll all the way down until you reach the photo you previously left the app at. The best part is that you’ll be even more visable to the people in your audience who matter most!
When Is this Update happening?
Instagram stated that this will be rolled out in the next coming months, so you have some time to plan a new Instagram strategy. They mentioned that they will be testing the changes on a couple of accounts and will be taking feedback to help improve this change. There were rumours circulating today that the new update could be here before April, but Instagram cleared this up in a tweet that said the update isn’t happening just yet and they will let everyone know when it does change.
We're listening and we assure you nothing is changing with your feed right now. We promise to let you know when changes roll out broadly.
— Instagram (@instagram) March 28, 2016
What should you do?
If you’ve built your Instagram following naturally developing an interactive community, then this won’t be a huge deal for you so stop worrying and adjust your strategy. If you’ve paid for followers or used a follow-for-follow like-for-like strategy up until now then it’s time to change that.
- Make an extra push to encourage engagement from now until the change happens, remind them to be an active follower! Engagement means you’ll stay in their feed – if they are liking and commenting on your Instagram posts then they’ll continue to see your content! In the long run this is going to be more effective than post notifications.
- Produce high quality visually appealing images – well lit, clear, crisp, interesting and valuable. Post frequently, use relevant hashtags and be consistent. You’ll be more likely to show higher up in the feed if you’re active and have an engaged audience.
- If you are asking your followers to turn on notifications, at least give them a good reason to! Do you promote something on Instagram first? Is it a sneak peek? Do you do promos or giveaways on Instagram? People aren’t going to want their phone buzzing with alerts every time you post something, unless it benefits them in some way.
- Don’t depend on things you can’t control, don’t put the success of your blog or business into the hands of other businesses. They could change their business model tomorrow, go in a different direction or even shut down without any notice. Where would you be if your favourite social media platform was gone tomorrow? Would you notice a huge drop in your traffic, readers, customers and clients?
Social media platforms should be used as a funnel to drive people to your site. You control your website, your blog and your email list. They are a direct contact to your readers, one on one, without having to depend on a platform that can easily and quickly change its direction. I always recommend not to put all your eggs in one basket like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and even Bloglovin because they can and do change.
At the moment it does seem like a worrying change, especially for smaller content creators who may be pushed out by celebrities, but if you can come up with a strategy that works for you and focus on interaction with your followers then you’ll have nothing to worry about and might just improve the overall engagement on your feed!
What are your thoughts on the new Instagram changes? Does it affect your strategy, will you be changing how you use Instagram?