Alright, it’s time for some Instagram talk. It’s my first time talking about it formally on my blog, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care for it. I love Instagram just as much as you and your neighbour’s niece. A good friend got me hooked on it back in 2012 and the rest is pretty much history. My adoration for this social media platform was actually one of the driving factors for creating this blog.
Today, I’m taking the time to talk about Instagram because from a user experience perspective, we will soon undergo a huge change on the app. If I’m not wrong, this is the biggest change since the launch of Instagram six years ago. Know what it is? Of course, you do. Yes, I’m talking about the big, bad Instagram algorithm change. It has been about two weeks since there has been an uproar on social media about it, along with requests to sign a petition so that Instagram reconsiders the change. Oh and you must have also seen the photos which your favourite brands, bloggers, creatives, or even just your friends have been posting, illustrating the request to turn on Post Notifications for their profile. I strongly suggest not jumping on this particular bandwagon because when a surge of accounts asks everyone to turn on the Post Notifications, no one is really going to do it. Nobody wants notifications from so many bloggers or brands throughout the day and I can see it working against its purpose by being a total annoyance. Truthfully, all of this information at once was overwhelming and even though a part of me knew this is not something I need to worry about, the uproar impacted me quite a bit. My initial emotions too, were fear, concern, and discouragement. I mean, why should we have to change from seeing posts in a chronological order?
When I had a moment to myself a couple of days ago, I stepped back mentally and began re-assessing the situation. Why am I feeling worried? Why are fellow creatives feeling worried? Why are creatives demanding attention so explicitly? It just didn’t fit the equation. I did some research (I’m a huge researcher) and it sure calmed my nerves. I learned that most of this fearful emotion had erupted due to rumours, misunderstanding of the change and the inability to see the reason for this algorithm change. Most of us essentially took one attribute of the upcoming change and blew it out of proportion, while also missing its key implications. The truth is, it really isn’t so big and bad as everyone made it out to be and I’m going to help you understand this by highlighting two key points.
1. Enhanced User Experience
Did you know, that upon loading or pulling down to refresh your feed, Instagram has always had a limit of displaying 150 posts? So guess what, you have actually never been able to see each and every single post in the first place. The new algorithm will simply reorder the photos to reflect your engagement levels with the accounts you follow. This does not mean that Kim Kardashian’s posts will be the only ones showing up at the top of your feed above other smaller accounts you follow just because she has 65 million followers. However, if you engage with her posts a lot, you will surely see her posts higher up on your feed. This means that users will need to like, comment and/or share posts in order to see future posts from that particular account higher up on their feed. This makes sense doesn’t it, from a user experience perspective? Who wouldn’t want to see more of what they like before posts from other accounts they aren’t as interested in? The application is simply asking for your assistance to show what you’re interested in so that you can have an enhanced user experience.
2. Increased Interaction
The new Instagram algorithm change is actually going to reinforce interaction more than ever and that’s a beautiful thing for brands and bloggers. Why? Because the algorithm will work best when users interact with posts. By liking, commenting, and/or sharing posts, you are providing data for the algorithm to reorder posts accordingly and in turn, work better for you. Instagram will finally be used the way it’s meant to be, which is through increased interaction between users. I’m actually quite pleased that social platforms like Instagram and Facebook are taking a stride forward in mirroring true human interaction in the online space. Let’s express what we enjoy and the neat thing is, it doesn’t have to be public all the time because besides liking and commenting, direct sharing a post is also one of the ways to communicate your interests to the application.
Now that I’ve shared this perspective on the upcoming Instagram algorithm change with you, I hope it helped to relieve your nerves on how it could negatively affect your brand and its engagement. It’s simply a matter of understanding the capacity and implication of the change. I’m sure it will have its flaws but I also know, the algorithm will evolve in time as users begin using it widely.
I would say the takeaway message here is, the upcoming Instagram algorithm change will work with you just as much as you will work with it. Having said that, I know it’s not going to be easy to adapt to a non-chronological feed. Look out for a blog post in the next little while where I will be discussing how bloggers and brands can alter their strategy to work hand in hand with the upcoming Instagram algorithm change. If you have any questions, let me know in the Comments section below and I’d also love to hear if this post resonated with you.