On March 15th, Instagram reported that users miss on average 70 percent of their feeds. In a blog post titled See the Moments You Care About First, the company explains how hard it's become for people to see the content they care about the most.
So, Instagram is changing their feed from chronological to algorithmic.
For now, all published posts will stay in our feeds but we'll start to see them be arranged in a different order. Posts that you are more likely to care about and interact with (based on a lot of behavior-based data) will float to the top of your feed, regardless of when originally posted. Later down the road, all posts won't reach every follower. Thus, Instagram's organic reach will inevitably decrease and their ad product will be in high demand. Smart, right?
Note: Facebook owns Instagram. You've probably started to see a lot more ads in your Instagram feeds thanks to Facebook's Power Editor. It's just the beginning. Marketers will continue to leverage Facebook's data to deploy targeted ads into our Instagram feeds. All this data will help companies better understand what photos you post, what photos you like, who you follow, who you tag in the comments, and the hashtags you click on to discover more. Data is king in the social media marketing world, and Facebook has built the biggest castle.
I don't love or hate the idea of an algorithmic feed. I don't have a strong opinion on the feed itself. It just is what it is. Instagram is making this change to protect the quality of its platform. I get it. The death of all social media channels is the time when users have to scroll through a lot of content they don't care about, they get frustrated, they start complaining and they move on.
Wipe away all the emotional reactions to it (I'm talking to you Johnny Mayer) and get to the core of why Instagram had to evolve their feed in the first place.
We have created a digital world filled with an enormous amount of content. Popular social media platforms have an overload issue that each need to address if they want to keep current users happy and engaged, and bring new active users in.
Sound familiar? It's Facebook all over again. It's what Twitter is working on but hasn't mastered yet, and why it still struggles with a content firehose issue. It's what Snapchat will have to solve for as more people download the app, setup accounts, create stories and send Snaps. It's the evolution that every social media channel eventually goes through in one way or another. Facebook was just the first to get it right.
If you're in business and you're reading this thinking, "this Instagram feed change is a big problem for my company. It was easier to get followers and have them like our posts. My job is about to get a lot harder," then you need a complete mind shift. You need to get on the offensive. You need to adjust. Reconnect with your customers and understand what content they interact with most on Instagram. Create better content that your desired audience is likely to engage with. Dive deeper into Instagram and understand its ad product better. Don't read headlines and overreact. Spend more time in Instagram learning, testing and adjusting.
The game hasn't really changed all that much. Instagram is simply raising its own bar. As marketers, we have to be better photographers, storytellers, designers, copywriters and video producers if we want to earn users' attention on Instagram. That's how marketing has always been.
Winning the attention game on Instagram is just like any other platform—It comes down to talent and execution.
Is your content good enough to stay at the top of the feed?