Instagram’s New Algorithm and What It Means for Brands


Last week, Instagram announced that it will be rearranging its feed to prioritize posts that it believes users most want to see.

This is a change from the chronological order it has used since 2010.

The new algorithm will make Instagram’s feed function similarly to that of Facebook, its parent company.

In a blog post, Instagram explained that this change is coming because “people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds.” This is largely due to Instagram’s increased popularity. The app now has over 400 million regular users, and as it is home to more and more content, it can be harder for users to see everything. Instagram hopes that the new algorithm will ensure users never miss the content they care about most, whether that’s a video of their favorite band’s concert or a picture of a friend’s new puppy.

Instagram hasn’t shared the details of their new algorithm. They explain that the new order of posts “will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.” The change will be rolled out gradually in the coming months.

Both users and advertisers have expressed some resistance to the new Facebook-style feed. Since Twitter changed its timeline to emphasize “best tweets” last month, Instagram has been one of the last major social media platforms that maintains a reverse chronological order feed. Users have been attached to this order and appreciate the sense of immediacy it provides. As Instagram rolls out the change, it remains to be seen whether users will come around.

Brands are also concerned about how much the new algorithm will affect their advertising strategy. The New York Timesreported that “The shift will not affect Instagram’s advertising products, which already use and rely on similar targeting principals to serve ads to users.” Even if Instagram retains the same advertising tools, brands may need to retool their strategies to make sure they stay on top of Instagram’s updated algorithm.

Some brands are concerned that the changes will reduce their organic reach. Others, however, feel that the changes could help to prevent their posts from being buried underneath more recent content. If brand posts are truly relevant to users, they may be able to stay on top of the news feed for longer. Brands may need to put extra effort into crafting posts that come across as authentic and engaging. Other advertisers are beginning to strategize that they may need to begin paying to promote more posts as paid ads.

Our conclusion: Until Instagram rolls out its algorithm changes, these strategies remain primarily speculation. It seems likely, however, that the changes will bring some corresponding changes in successful brand strategies.

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Written by content manager Meghan Woolley

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