The Instagram algorithm change and what you need to know

The social media space has been bombarded over the last 24 hours with panic and posts, prompting users to turn on notifications, in light of the algorithm change that was rumored to take place this week.

The reaction if nothing else, confirms our reliance upon these platforms. Whilst dubbed by some as ‘spammy’, the prompt for turning on notifications, also highlights the reliance on such platforms for revenue generation for individuals, artists and musicians - where panic in the face of uncertainty, could almost be justified.

Here at Fresh Air digital, we have spent time monitoring and listening to the reactions since the proposed change was announced. Last night, we tested the reaction by asking our own followers to turn on notifications. We received a number of communications asking, what is the ‘right’ thing to do, so today we’ve put together a round up of the facts so far.

What’s changing?

Up to now, Instagram has presented content in a chronological way – with the most recent posts appearing at the top of the feed. The proposed change will show the user photos believed to be most interesting, based on past interactions, which follows on from parent company, Facebook.

Why change?

Instagram suggest that this change will, in fact, improve the user experience, suggesting that to date, up to 70% of photo's are being missed with the rise in numbers of people signing up to use the photo sharing platform. According to Kevin Systrom, co-founder and chief executive of Instagram – “what this is about is making sure the 30 percent you see is the best 30 percent possible.”

What’s the problem?

So what's the problem? Well to some there is no problem. In fact, the change signifies an opportunity for their outstanding content to still be available when their audiences login, hours after it was posted. The opposition, however, seems to be louder and far-reaching.

The concern from a user perspective is having an algorithm make the decision about what you like on your behalf, and in addition, removing the ‘instant’ nature of the platform.

From a business perspective, however, it doesn't take a digital marketing expert to know that despite Instagram stating that it is to improve the user experience, it is without a doubt aimed at boosting the platforms advertising revenue. For larger brands, with huge reach and engagement, it will be less of a problem but for small brands, the only option to maintain performance will be to pay for advertising. We have witnessed the same with Facebook, where businesses have experienced huge drops in organic reach.

So in spite of widespread opposition from users, this change is seemingly geared towards monetization … but the change is for the users…. Right?

When is it going to be launched?

At the moment, Instagram insists that they are still in the testing stage but rumors that the change was rolling out this week, sparked the reaction from personal and business users alike. An Instagram spokesperson told Tech Insider.

“This is not being implemented tomorrow [Tuesday] — we still have weeks, or even months, of testing to go. Currently, the test groups are very small. When we roll it out broadly, we will definitely let the community know."

What should you do?

So what should you do? As a B2B company, we'll address this from the business side. As far as we’re concerned, as a business, prompting your audience to turn on notifications is a harmless tactic, leaving it down to the user to decide whether or not to respond to your request. In the democracy of social media, they can choose who they particularly wish to be kept up to date with – let’s not forget the option to do so was added there for a reason.

Above all, however, this has once again reaffirmed the importance of good quality and unique content, placing the user first and foremost. This is more important than ever to drive engagement. If you dazzle your audience with content worth commenting on, liking, and sharing, you will survive any algorithm change. Take the time to get to know your audience and you will know exactly how to keep them entertained.

Content is at the heart of everything we do now. Simply strive to be the best in your industry and you will be one of the great survivors of Instageddon.

Back to blog