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21 April 2016

The introduction of an Instagram algorithm

You may remember that not too long ago, we discussed a few important changes Instagram has made to the platform. These changes included Instagram's new multi-account function and future changes to users' personal feeds. In this blog we will be considering the replacement of a chronological feed with an algorithmic feed.

 instagram_blog_image_2.jpgImage source:

What this means for brands

Instagram has already topped 400 million users. There is now so much content on the platform that brands are noticing their organic reach and engagement levels dropping. 

This situation is leading to brands preparing for the arrival of an algorithm to make Instagram less unwieldy for its users, users who, on average, are following almost twice the number of accounts that they were a year ago and are also posting more content. 

The arrival of an algorithm will make the platform feel a lot more like parent site, Facebook — where companies have to pay to get their message to users. It could be argued that the platform has to be monetised in order to preserve the experience for users. 

With testing of this new algorithm expected to launch soon, we've also mentioned that Instagram will be choosing both the order and what posts users will see in their feeds which could spell good news for users as theoretically, if it works, it will mean that they will see the best photos and videos for them every single time they open the app. It's likely that the app will still include an option to view posts chronologically, just like Facebook's 'most recent' option.

However, for many brands who have become accustomed to reaching their customers for free, it will mean a big re-think of how they now reach these customers.  An algorithm will put the power back into Instagram's hands as it will now mean they will have even more control over what each user sees and also more importantly for brands, what they don't see.

With news of the introduction of an algorithmic feed comes great fear from many brands that their posts will be side-lined, out of view out of sight and out of mind. This fear is likely to play out for brands posting mechanical and sterile content - they will have to up their game.instagram_blog_image_3.jpg

However, Instagram have stressed that the new algorithm is not intended to make businesses pay but instead have stressed that they will be treating brand content just like any other content. They claim that the whole aim of the algorithm is to “show people more of the content they want to see, including content from businesses.”

Though the changes have unnerved some, Instagram believe that the changes will make for an overall better Instagram experience and any marketer or brand that has a powerful media strategy already in place should find that they’re not affected by the change.

With many users welcoming being served the content they find most interesting and useful to them, it could mean that they spend more time on the platform which could in turn make it easier for brands to reach users.

All in all, it will be interesting to see how these changes play out.

Watch this space for even more updates on this topic in the future.

What do you think about the introduction of the new Instagram algorithm, why not tweet us your thoughts.