If you’ve been on Instagram in the past 24 hours, you are probably well-aware that some major changes are coming to our feeds – changes that many users are unhappy with. On March 15, Instagram announced that they will be altering the order of how posts appear on users’ feeds. Rather than the normal chronological order that posts appear in, they will now be ordered according to a personalized, algorithm-based feed. This essentially means that our feeds will now be a reflection of what Instagram thinks we care about the most.
As word began to spread that the new changes may be launched starting tomorrow, users and brands have been notifying their followers to make sure to click the “Turn On Notifications” option in their profile so that their posts can still be seen when the changes are implemented. It appears that the majority of people are upset with this new feature – many have signed a petition to keep the feeds chronological – so what is the purpose behind the changes, and why is Instagram following through with them despite the overwhelming amount of complaints?
Algorithm-based feeds are not new to the social media world; in fact, Facebook and Twitter have already implemented similar feeds. Although Facebook users reacted similarly to the updated algorithmic feed in 2009, it has been years that we’ve been accustomed to this style – so why so much backlash now with Instagram? Many users – especially those who use Instagram to promote smaller businesses and brands – fear that the change will give them less exposure and make the competition even tougher. While it is true that the update will require brands to be more creative and engaging, there are some benefits to it.
In their original announcement, Instagram wrote that “people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds.” They claim that the growth of the social media platform has made it so that users are missing a lot of content, and a lot of content that they actually want to see. This new update will supposedly allow you see the posts you care about the most – like a video posted by your favorite musician on tour or a photo of your best friend’s crazy new haircut – before you see other less important posts. Users will also be relieved to know that the update shouldn’t actually hide certain posts from your feed, but simply change the order that they will appear.
Despite the backlash, many professionals in the social media world are expressing their support for the change, saying that the updated feed will make Instagram more relevant, engaging and useful. Other professionals view the modification as a welcomed challenge, forcing them to rethink the way they market to their followers and to come up with new strategies for their social media.
Although it seems that it may take a while for users to adjust to the change, Instagram has promised to enact the changes slowly but surely. They will place more emphasis on relevance of content and your relationship with the user, but still rely on the recency of post. Like everything else, social media must change and evolve to stay relevant and progress. Only time will tell how users truly feel about the algorithm-based feeds, and who knows? It might prove to be a worthwhile change for all.