The Instagraming world woke up this Monday morning to a lot of semi-obnoxious posts asking their followers to “turn on notifications” so that their images would still show up in your feed. They also claimed that there would be a brand new Instagram feed coming first thing on Tuesday morning.
First, ignore those posts, according to the journalists at the Independent, they’re not based on any factual statement coming from Instagram. But there is truth to the mayhem: Instagram recently sent shockwaves throughout the social media-using world, announcing an end to the current chronological feed. In its place, they’re launching an algorithm powered to order posts on feeds based on your interests and connections, similar to Facebook.
No, people aren’t happy; yes, there have been petitions and hashtags set up to convince Instagram to ditch their plans; but still, Instagram isn’t budging. Why? Instagram explained via a post on their blog that with chronological posts, people are missing “on average 70 percent of their feeds.” The switch to an algorithm-based feed, they say, will let users see more of what they care about and less of what they don’t. According to Instagram, this is all meant too increase user engagement.
While for users, that may mean less scrolling through clutter, for brands it amounts to a complete reformatting social media strategy. We won’t know exactly how the new Instagram feed will change things until it launches (D-Day is still not set despite today’s panic), but based on what we do know and how similar changes played out on Facebook and Twitter, we can already assess a few key facts.
1—Followers Will Be Less Important
Post to Instagram now, and it’s a sure bet that image will show up on every single one of your followers feeds. Not so with the new algorithm. We don’t know how prohibitive the new formula will be, but one thing is for certain: the a brand’s or influencer’s follower count no longer equates to sets of eyes.
2—Engagement Is The New Metric To Watch
How many likes and comments an image gets will matter more than almost anything else. With users’ feeds customized to highlight the sorts of posts they engage with most, brands will be even more pressed to create captivating content. A brand’s failure to produce alluring content will effectively decrease their presence in the feed, bringing down their overall reach. But a company can also gain even more exposure than the chronological feed allowed by posting high-quality, engaging content.
3—Influencers Will Change and Become Even More Important
Now that the luxury of guaranteed placement in the feed is gone, marketers will rely more on influencers with proven engagement rates to get their message out. But, marketers will also have to adjust the definition of an influencer—those with a lot of followers but little engagement will drop in value while influencers with less followers but a high engagement rate will become even more important.
4—You May Have to Pay to Be Seen on the New Instagram Feed
Any brand with a Facebook page already knows—if you want you post to be seen, you have to pay to “boost” it. Expect a similar platform to take shape on Instagram. With posts no longer guaranteed to show up in a user’s feed, brands will start paying for sponsored posts to ensure their message gets seen.
5—Followers Will Grow in Number
Now the silver lining, of sorts. Following too many people easily clogs up users’ feed. Tailoring users’ feeds according to the images they tend to like de-clutters posts. By cleaning up the feed, Instagram hopes, people will have less reason to un-follow accounts they aren’t really interacting with. Why? Because they’ll rarely, if ever, see those posts.