Instagram Algorithm Changes 2016: Have you been turned on?

Instagram’s latest update is a radical upheaval of its user experience. Take a look.

Instagram Algorithm Changes 2016: Have you been turned on? - Edouard Barbier - Blog Post - March 2016

Everyone knows Instagram. It’s one of the most popular social networks out there, fully mobile with great content that’s super easy to digest. It’s become the go-to place for brands and companies to tell their story in a compelling, visual way.

Now though, Instagram’s latest update is a radical upheaval of its user experience. Take a look.

The times they are a-changin’ at Instagram HQ

Historically Instagram has always displayed content chronologically. Like Facebook, LinkedIn and more recently Twitter, when social networks reach certain maturity milestones, they need to change the way their core engine – the feed – works.

Instagram has recently announced that they are moving towards an algorithmic model. And by the looks of things, this has already begun.insta

Instagram Algorithm Changes 2016 - Turn on notifications

What does an algorithmic feed mean?

Instagram used to run a ‘last shared - first seen’ model. Now users will see the most relevant content for them based on a secret algorithm developed by Inst… Facebook, probably very similar to the so-called ‘EdgeRank’ algorithm implemented on Facebook.

Why the change?

There are two main reasons for this. First, user behaviours have changed. As the community grows, increasing numbers of users create more and more content and follow more and more accounts.

As a result, the amount of content for each user to digest gets bigger and people start missing the posts that matter; posts from their friends, family or from favourite brands & companies. The implication on user experience? Not good.

Secondly, advertising has a huge role to play in this strategic decision. When Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, even though the app had no business model everyone knew Facebook had it all planned. It was just a matter of time before they would plug Instagram into their social graph and their powerful advertising engine.

Creating exclusivity is a great business model.

By going algorithmic, Instagram can leverage the power to choose what content people will be shown. In other words, your organic reach is going to decrease.

Everybody will try to crack this new algorithm to maximise their organic reach, but realistically the key is to invest in an advertising budget.

Don’t worry, all is not lost.

Using sponsored content on Instagram will allow you to increase the reach of your posts to a wider, targeted audience.

Start thinking about Instagram campaigns. Now you can promote content and ensure that it’s seen by your target audience. Instagram offers the same targeting features you’ve probably used on Facebook, but this time you will be reaching a highly engaged audience of 400+ million users.

It’s also a chance for you to be creative with Instagram experiences too. Think beyond photos with videos, lead generation for apps and so on. The algorithmic feed means that your content has to be top notch to generate engagement. So start getting creative.

In addition, a new feature has just been rolled out which should help you. Instagram now lets users select the accounts they really want to see content from by turning push notifications on.

Why is this even more powerful? Once users have turned notifications on to get your content, they will receive notifications on their phones whenever you share a post on Instagram. So the impact could be huge if this feature is used properly and, crucially, if companies give good enough reasons for users to opt-in to see their content.

Instagram Algorithm Changes 2016 - Turn on notifications

How long is this feature going to be live for and how much weight will it have in the algorithm formula as opposed to advertising? Good question. It could simply be a temporary push to highlight Instagram’s change… or not. Who knows?

The next big question?

When are we going to see some proper analytics and data insights coming from our activity on Instagram? It’s the next critical step Instagram needs to take to tell advertisers and influencers how their content is performing and what the ROI on their activity is.

We’ve started to see some changes regarding video content with the number of views visible under each video post, but there is definitely more in the pipeline so… stay tuned.

Edouard Barbier
October 24, 2016

Tags: #socialMedia, #instagram, #update, #disruptive

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