On March 15th, Instagram announced that it will be changing the way posts are displayed. Instead of the familiar chronological timeline, which displays posts in the order which they were posted, content will now be prioritized according to an algorithm.
Instagram says it is making this change to ensure its users see the content they care about the most. In their announcement, Instagram said, “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.”
The amount of content on Instagram has grown exponentially, due in part to the consistently high engagement Instagram delivers. Instagram says the typical user is now seeing only 70% of the content posted by the people and brands they follow. It’s unclear how changing the order of posts will address the issue of there being an overwhelming amount of content available. What is clear is that the switch to an algorithm driven timeline makes integrating an increasing amount of advertising content easier for the platform.
Marketers have known this was coming, according to Adweek. We’ve been down this road before, as Facebook and other social media platforms seek to monetize effectively. Users may complain – they certainly have been quite eloquent in their opposition to Instagram’s change but they’ve proven time and time again that they’re not going to abandon their favorite platforms when the ads start showing up.
What does this mean for you? Brands who have been posting content to Instagram may see the reach of those posts diminish; you’ll want to keep an eye on your engagement numbers. Connecting with acceptable numbers of customers will very likely require investing in advertising, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when looking at your marketing budget.
Industry observers are hopeful that the impact of this change won’t exactly mirror what we’ve seen happen on Facebook; that being said, there’s no doubt that the quality of creative content has declined once brands learned they can get the same number of views simply by paying for access. We believe truly creative campaigns will continue to shine on Instagram, so keep those thinking caps on. Your customers value what makes your brand special and unique. Keep giving them that, and you’ll be one of the things they care about most- on Instagram and elsewhere.