What Instagram’s Algorithm Will Mean For Bloggers (+ Brands)

Nearly 4 years to the date that Facebook purchased Instagram, the social media juggernaut has imposed its most infuriating feature on the photo-sharing platform. The Algorithm. On Tuesday, Instagram announced its feed would be transitioning from the chronological stream we’ve all become accustomed to, towards a feed “ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.”

That’s right: Instagram is about to make it even harder for you to see content from all the people you follow. Instead, it’s going to favour the posts it believes you’ll care the most about.

While I’ll agree with Instagram that I probably do miss about 70% of my feed – I’m constantly missing out on posts from my friends – I don’t think an algorithm that re-orders all posts is the way to go.

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What does this mean for bloggers?

Well, it means the pressure is on even more so to create content that can generate likes and comments. The cynic in me wonders if this will only continue to encourage bloggers to purchase followers, likes and comments. While this engagement used to be a nice-to-have, it’s now a must-have to ensure your content shows up in followers’ feeds.

It also means bloggers may have to commit to acting like brands.

It’s time to shell out for sponsored posts, whether you like it or not. You didn’t think they would make such a change altruistically, did you? This change isn’t about user experience, it’s about dollar bills. Not that this should come as a shock.

The Facebook newsfeed change was likely the #1 driver for sponsored units for brands – especially coupled with tough competition for eyeballs in the newsfeed. The same is now true for Instagram.

I’ll be honest – this makes me sad. While Instagram was far from pure, it still felt like a fairly organic channel. Yes, even with the influx of mega-styled posts (guilty). Fighting for space in the feed will take away some of that joy for me – and might even encourage me to give out likes and comments more judiciously to control my feed.

What now?

If anything, I think this change will only encourage more users over to Snapchat. You know, the land of the free where the content is free-flowing, likes are non-existent and it’s nearly impossible to style every single snap. I’ve been loving the platform for its stream-of-consciousness quality and authenticity. The immediacy of it all takes the pressure off and I love it. From a brand strategy perspective, we already know that teen users hate Facebook, like Instagram and LOVE snapchat. This change to Instagram’s algorithm will only seek to solidify that Snapchat is the place to be for the younger demo.

So that’s my rant.

But I’m curious – what do you think? Will you still use Instagram? Is there another platform you’ll consider instead?

  • zachbussey

    Ew Livefyre?

    Instagram overload has happened – we’ve all been privy to incredibly images for years now. How many times can I look at a table with things (phone, coffee, sunglasses etc) all nicely arranged, or a  photo from a rooftop or  photo of a building or a carefully taken and edited bikini shot can I look at and continue to get the same kind of ‘wow’ from? 
    Instagram was nice, but it is now just old hat… the same things taken over and over and over again. That’s why the algorithm comes into play: to ensure only the greatest of the great, the sexiest of the sexy, the most neatly organized of the organized things get shown – to get that incredible ‘wow’ feeling again. How long does that last though? Eh, not long.

  • zachbussey I find I just go through my feed and think “pretty…pretty…pretty…BABY! ….pretty … pretty…OOOH, clothes… et al. And there isn’t anything wrong with that – people have optimized to what others are responding to on the platform. The same has happened for frequency. We’ve all “optimized”, just like brands.

    Instagram wants users to do these things, but it seems like they’re now really pushing us all in their direction by restricting. 

    Would a more curated feed be a positive thing? Sure. I’ve adapted to Facebook doing the same (and have learned the perils of creeping ex-boyfriends and frenemies). But, at the same time, I do love a good chronological feed. It’s what keeps me coming back to Twitter time and time again.

    ANYWAYS. I’m curious to see how this plays out. I can’t see it being overly positive. Facebook didn’t really need to turn Instagram into FB 2.0.

  • CrystalGibson1

    I’m curious – what happens to those you follow who have private accounts? Do those get pulled into the algorithm or because they’re private, their metrics cannot be pulled? 
    I like Instagram; I like seeing everyone’s beautifully styled photos – but sometimes it makes me disillusioned and I am pulled into this bought of sadness because I feel like I am not doing cool things or wearing cool outfits. So, I agree with you – Snapchat has become my first platform to check in on. I love the rawness of it all; I like to see my favourite bloggers without makeup. I like to see the Toronto girls who think they’re superstars bring it down a notch – it’s nice. What’s most interesting to me is that brands are trying the Snapchat ad model but it isn’t providing return the same way that an authentic ‘story’ is returning. There is work to be done for Snapchat to get some traction from the current model. Anyway – that’s my tangent – great post!

  • CrystalGibson1 I’m sure even private accounts will fall into the algorithm – they’re focusing on the things that you as a user are more interested in. My gut tells me that it’ll be a balance between posts from people you follow with high engagement (High Quality Content) and posts from people you follow and engage with regularly (High Affinity). These aren’t bad things on their own – I just don’t think forcibly moving users from chronological to this model is going to enhance their experience. 

    I’m all about the snapchat – it feels like a video version of 2009 – 12 Twitter. A friend made a funny comment the other day that following her favourite bloggers & vloggers on Snapchat sometimes makes her love them more – because they’re so real – but then also has the opposite effect for some because their “real” self doesn’t quite match up.

  • amyraposo

    stephaniefusco this instagram change makes me very sad! I also think it will annoy a lot of people. Just my two cents.

  • tamera

    stephaniefusco I just saw the news this morning & said the same about buying likes/followers/comments. Will agencies do the research tho?

  • stephaniefusco

    tamera they rarely do. Even when they’re aware, the optics generally outweigh the negatives. I’ve been in many a tussle over this.

  • stephaniefusco

    amyraposo instagram people will adapt, they always do. And Facebook knows this. It still sucks in a major way, though.

  • tamera

    stephaniefusco oh I hear ya. It takes work to find true influencers. Not just volume but affinity

  • jackmise

    I heard about this yesterday, and like most people…I’m not happy. I hate the way Facebook organizes my feed. I have a serious Instagram addiction, which means I follow bloggers, influencers….and friends and family (who don’t get nearly as many likes or comments). I don’t WANT to miss things from anyone, and I don’t want anyone to miss my posts.

    It just sucks, because I’m pretty sure they’re making this change to encourage more companies to fork over money for ads so they can be “seen.” This is probably because they aren’t having a ton of success with Ads now? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never once clicked on a sponsored post on my IG feed because they annoy me too much.

    End rant. For now…

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