We have been waiting for this day for quite some time. When Facebook bought Instagram in April 2012, my gut reminded me that this may cause more boosted posts, more algorithmic feeds and more dreadful "outreach scores" from the newly purchased platform in the future. There was no question... just a matter of time. Fast forward four years later and here we are, anticipating the largest social network once again tweaking an algorithm and wreaking havoc in our feeds. Maybe.
Earlier this month, Facebook-owned Instagram announced that it would no longer organize posts chronologically. “To improve your experience,” the company explained, “your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.” Instagram explained that “the order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order—all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”
Now, it seems, that change is starting to kick in, and Instagram users are scrambling to make sure their posts aren’t downgraded in your feed.
To avoid Insta-oblivion, users are encouraging their followers to turn on post notifications for their accounts. To do so, a follower must go to the accounts page and click on the ellipsis at the top right corner of the screen, and then select “turn on post notifications.” If you opt into post notifications, you’ll get pinged each time the user uploads something to Instagram.
Users are employing the questionable hashtag #turnmeon and a message with an arrow (or something) pointing to the ellipsis to catch their followers’ eye, and attempt to convince them to turn notifications on.
Are you exhausted yet? So are we. But let’s try to sympathize with these users and understand what’s actually happening.
Like most feed-based networks, Instagram is starting to feel like a crowded place. People now follow hundreds of accounts and receive dozens of new photos per hour. Good posts are getting lost in the middle of not-so-good posts.
As user experience suffers, people are less inclined to use Instagram. And that’s why Instagram has a solution... so they say. Soon (but not tomorrow), Instagram’s magical robots will put the best photos at the top of your feed. If posts don’t perform well, Instagram won’t show those posts to all followers.
Instagram might even show posts out of order. In other words, Instagram is going to become more like Facebook, and less like Twitter.
But brands and professionals should definitely freak out. Some community managers spent months of hard work increasing the number of followers they have on their Instagram accounts. And soon, only a fraction of this fan base is going to receive Instagram posts. It’s true, algorithmic feeds force us to compete.
Even worse, Instagram doesn’t provide analytics tools (except video views). They won’t know how many people view their posts. Professionals won’t know if they’re doing a good job and what type of posts are performing well. If a brand’s reach decreases dramatically, some brands will also have to pay for ads like on Facebook. This isn’t a bad thing for Instagram, but brands don’t want to pay for something they could do for free.
In short, if you didn’t know why everyone is freaking out on Instagram today, now you know. Although Instagram has recently reminded us that there will be no change in the near future and that the changes will roll out broadly, it is important for professionals to understand that this change is on the horizon and it may have a large cause-effect if Instagram is a reliant source of marketing.
We are consulting our clients to (unfortunately) join the club and make certain you ask your followers to turn on their notifications so they can stay in touch with you. While it may be a matter of months, the Instagram Algorithmic Feed is going to occur whether we like it or not. Take advantage of the free platform while it is just that... free.
For more questions, give us a call! 504-228-7669 or you can email us at email@example.com. Happy Marketing!