If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Break It

Photo: Digital Trends

This week, Instagram announced that they were beginning to test a new timeline for its users – one that uses an algorithm to determine the posts they think you might want to see the most, rather than just adding them to your timeline in chronological order like the current version is now.

Instagram stated that:

People miss on average 70 percent of their feeds. As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.

Now while I’m sure not everyone is seeing every single post in their timeline, if you’re not interested in the content that you’re seeing on your timeline, why not just unfollow that user? But that’s thinking about the situation in the most basic sense. The thing is, if you’re following thousands of people, even if they only post once a day (which is probably pretty unlikely), there’s a good chance that there’s no way you’re going to catch up on every single post from everyone you follow (unless you have the luxury of that being only thing you have to do all day; in that case, can we switch?) For users that are being inundated with media from their timeline, that totally makes sense. But I, like many others, like to keep my timeline manageable so that I only really follow and can engage with users whose content I truly care about.

What does this mean for me?

If you’re the regular, everyday Instagram user, you’ll notice a change in your timeline in the next couple months, and if you are one of those users that follows a ton of people, you’ll most likely be quite happy for the update.

If you’re a business or brand that relies on the organic reach of the timeline to get to your target market, things are about to change … a lot. It’s no secret that Facebook’s organic reach is terrible and that as of right now, the best place to invest energy for many brands is Instagram if you want to truly engage with your audience. As of right now, one can only assume what affects the new algorithm will have. If you ask me, I would say you should prepare for a decline in engagement rates for the first little while, and then a gradual upswing. The best thing I think to do right now is to be sure you’ve got a pretty solid understanding on the type of content that  your audience likes, and continue forward with that. Once things are a little more settled and the update has fully been rolled out, do small changes or even some A/B testing in hopes that one unliked post won’t completely destroy the reach you’ve already established.

The Bottom Line

Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, no amount of complaining is going to make this new timeline go away, but perhaps Instagram can take a page from Twitter’s book, and at least allow users the opportunity to opt-out and stick with the old timeline.

What do you think about Instagram’s algorithmic timeline?

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