Instagram, one of the favorite social media platforms for millennials, has decided to make a few changes to how its timeline feed works. This technology-minded age group is the first to only know the world with a smartphone in their hand, and they tend to spend twice as much time every day on their phone as opposed to computers or tablets. Needless to say, some millennials are not happy with the recent changes in Instagram’s algorithm that make Instagram’s feed seem a lot like Facebook. What it comes down to basically is that Instagram doesn’t want you to miss your most important posts.
Remember how, back in March, Instagram announced it was switching to a Facebook-esque algorithm-fuelled timeline? And then everyone freaked out…
Since then there’s been various reports of how the Instagram algorithm has changed people’s experiences and how it’s filtering out content. But the thing is, for the vast majority of user, the algorithm hadn’t been switched on yet.
At the time of the ‘great freakout’, and the ‘Turn on Notifications’ avalanche, Instagram said:
We’re listening and we assure you nothing is changing with your feed right now. We promise to let you know when changes roll out broadly.
And while a few users were in the live test group, for most, as Instagram noted, nothing had changed. Except their perception.
But your Instagram feed is most definitely changing – late yesterday, Instagram announced, via their blog, that the algorithm-fueled timeline is now being rolled out to all users – and that the data from those who’ve had the algorithm has been largely positive thus far.
From the announcement:
“On average, people miss 70% of their feeds. It’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share as Instagram has grown. Over the past few months, we brought this new way of ordering posts to a portion of the community, and we found that people are liking photos more, commenting more and generally engaging with the community in a more active way.”
Instagram says the algorithm will be rolling out to all users over the next month, so if you’re not seeing it yet, you will soon.
How do you know if you have it?
“If posts in your feed are not arranged chronologically, then you have the new feed experience.”
There’s been much speculation about how Instagram’s algorithm will work, and the announcement earlier this week of brand profiles for the platform added to that complexity – will it be better to switch to a brand account or remain as a person, given the algorithm could have a different way of sorting brand posts?
All of that will become clear now as we get to actually see how users are affected by the algorithm, and what the algorithm uses as its key indicators of interest and subsequent reach.
As of right now, the only official explanation Instagram provides on how the feed algorithm works is via their Help Center:
“Posts are ordered based on factors like how recently the post was shared, your interactions with the person who shared it and whether you’ll find the post interesting. Posts you’re likely to care about most will appear higher in your feed, and we’ll continue to improve the feed experience over time as we learn more and hear feedback from the community.”
I guess since Facebook owns Instagram, it makes sense that they might be using similar technology to try and reach the largest audience possible. But with the youth of our world being most of that audience, they may risk chasing them off to the next new social media platform, such as Yik Yak or Snapchat. Time will tell if the new feed algorithm settles in and makes its users Insta-happy.