*dusts hands, congratulates self on sensationalist headline, sits back and awaits traffic*
So yeah, you probably already know this, but if you don’t – last night Instagram announced that will be adopting an algorithm that will show posts from the people you interact with/care about the most at the top of your news feed.
This is what we in the business call ‘doing a Facebook’.
Instagram states that people miss on average 70% of their feeds (crikey, how many people are you all following?) which means that you’re more than likely to miss ‘important’ posts from your very bestest friends.
Although if your bestest friends are anything like me, they’ll be clever enough to share Instagram posts across Facebook and Twitter to be triple-sure you’ll see their stupid cat pictures. Ahem…
So basically Instagram is doing you a favour. Showing you posts from the people you care about the most, first.
Here’s an official statement:
“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.”
Again, I could have surmised that quote (and this whole article) in one short sentence: “guys, we’re doing a Facebook.”
But what interests me the most about this change is the very nature of ‘needing’ an algorithm itself.
Did we, the users, ask for this change? Did Instagram see our behaviour on the app and decided it would be best for us? How does this ultimately benefit Instagram?
No doubt most people’s knee-jerk reaction is “oh bugger off, leave it alone” but this is mainly because we fear change. Remember when Facebook changed its Newsfeed to show the most ‘interacted with’ posts? My memory is pretty hazy but I’m pretty sure I remember rioting on the streets.
And then Facebook calmed everyone down by informing us that we can toggle between the algorithm and chronological order in the settings. Which we all didn’t do and left it as it was, because… well, who could be bothered? And now Facebook is going from strength to super-ridiculous strength, and it’s algorithm works pretty damn well.
Sorry hang on… from a user’s perspective it works pretty damn well. Look at the way it has kept advertisers and brands off the feed. It’s ingenious. Sure for marketers and publishers, this is a nightmare and Facebook is barely worth bothering with anymore, but for people who don’t care what you have to sell and never have done, it’s a veritable nirvana.
Is this what Instagram is looking for though? It is owned by Facebook, so it stands to reason the publicly stated reasoning is the same: to put the user first.
But of course we all know the real reason why Facebook killed brand reach on its Newsfeed: to encourage marketers to pay for Facebook’s various advertising services. This occurred hand-in-hand with the general user-focused algorithm change.
Similarly, Instagram is allowing more and more brands to monetise its platform with a variety of pay-to-play ad units, which has worsened some hardcore Instagrammers’ experience…
So perhaps an algorithm will help offset the encroaching commercial world and essentially democratise the playing field once again. You’ll only see posts from not only the people you care about the most. but the brands too. This only benefits the user right?
But what are the other practicalities for the introduction of an algorithm?
Gone will be the days of this clever type of Instagramming, where chronological posts form one giant picture.
Meh, no big loss. But the real pain is for the people who genuinely appreciated the ability to scroll back chronologically to catch up with their news feed.
— Jamison Foser (@jamisonfoser) March 15, 2016
But then, according to Instagram, these people are in the 30% minority.
My real worry is for the everyday, run-of-the-mill user who doesn’t get a lot of engagement, mainly because they don’t have many followers, who will get buried by the big-hitters – the ones who manage an instant 900 likes from a selfie – and feel like they’re not getting any value out of the app.
Basically what I’m saying is that I’M worried that even less people are going to like MY stupid cat photos, and as my self-esteem is tied directly to my popularity on social, this is a cruel blow to my already fragile ego and if you ALL don’t follow me on Instagram right now it will ruin my life forever.
Wow. That did not end the way I expected it to.