On Tuesday, March 29th, it was nearly impossible to log onto Instagram without seeing a post that looked something like this one:
The post itself is enough to cause a stir. Why wouldn’t I be able to see your posts anymore? Is that going to happen to my profile too?
Instagram quickly reacted, releasing the following tweet:
We’re listening and we assure you nothing is changing with your feed right now. We promise to let you know when changes roll out broadly.
— Instagram (@instagram) March 28, 2016
So what’s all this panic about? In short, a word most Instagrammers don’t understand: algorithm.
What is Algorithm?
At the dawn of social media, everything you saw was placed in reverse chronological order, based solely on the people you follow. For a person just joining social media today, this idea is completely foreign.
Before, we mentioned that Instagram’s parent company is Facebook. Since March of 2013, Facebook has been integrating more and more specific features to their timeline, instead of being just reverse chronological. What began as a way to remove clutter slowly transitioned into a way to get businesses to pay for advertising right on your timeline. Through this process, Facebook worked to combine both paid advertiser posts that match user interests, along with the posts users would like to see most from the people they are friends with and follow.
Why the change?
Instagram’s idea to switch to algorithm mimics what their parent company, Facebook, believes about social media. The company sees that the longer you use Instagram, the more people you will begin to follow. As a result of that, there soon becomes no possible way for you to see every single post that is intended for your Timeline. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said that nearly 70% of posts to your feed are getting lost due to the timeline. In a New York Times interview, Systrom summarized their objective well, saying: “What this is about is making sure that the 30 percent you see is the best 30 percent possible.”
What goes into algorithm?
Algorithm is different for every form of social media. Because it directly impacts both user experience and advertiser contribution, companies keep their algorithms as trade secrets. Still, it’s pretty easy to speculate the biggest factors that go into making your timeline what it is.
Looking at a combination of Factors, Gizmodo has identified 3 Major Factors that they believe will drive Instagram’s algorithm, whenever it is introduced.
- Likelihood you’ll be interested in the content
Interest in a post is most easily tracked with hashtags, combined with you liking images with similar hashtags.
- Your relationship with the person posting
This will likely be a combination of if you follow this person, have interacted with the advertiser before, or have interacted with advertisers of similar brands. More so, suggested posts can be determined based on who you follow, who they follow, and so on.
- Timeliness of the Post
More or less, newer posts will be shown first.
How will it affect me?
The good news is, there’s no need to panic. If your content is good, you’ll still appear in the timeline like always.
Bad news? It means businesses won’t get the easy, free ride they have been so far. With the slow roll out of advertising options over the past two years, this was expected. If you decide your business needs that extra bump of paid advertising, check out our post on paid advertising with Instagram.
If there’s one thing I can tell you for sure, the Instagram algorithm isn’t going to destroy your following. In the coming weeks, more and more will be shared from Instagram about what their algorithm will entail. For now, let’s just keep using best Insta practices and enjoy all the cute pictures of puppies Instagram has to offer.
A photo posted by Marnie The Dog (@marniethedog) on Mar 14, 2016 at 10:07am PDT