Last week Instagram announced what most marketers knew was inevitable, an algorithm. The Facebook owned micro-blogging rocket ship claimed a slip in engagement for its user’s content to around 30% as the reason. More likely the truth is probably about dollars and cents, as pressure from investors on Wall Street for social platforms to start financially performing gets more intense.
Bloggers, brands and influencers went into melt down and posted very spammy “Turn Notifications On” posts for much of the week. Alas, it’s that kinda content that is not going to serve them well come the era of the algorithm.
So what will the algorithm actually do to your feed? Well, lucky for us I’m part of the test group and I can tell you first hand what the effect of the feed will be. Although there are likely to be modifications made before the worldwide roll out here is how it looks now:
1. Haven’t checked your account for a while? Expect a major disruption to chronological posts.
Our agency, 16K Agency, runs social media accounts for many of our clients, but it was only my personal account (@jtowers1983) that had the test algorithm applied. I’d not switched to my personal account for around 18 hours and that caused the algorithm to serve me a heavy load of old posts it thought I’d missed and wanted to see. My video above will show you just how much my feed was affected.
2. The ads being served weren’t any better.
Instagram has opened its doors to advertising for all business and unfortunately most of the ads served through the platform are terrible and do not fit the feed. It’s hoped that the algorithm might start rewarding brands that publish great content that is relevant and will therefore be liked more and looked on favourably by the algorithm. During the test some pretty atrocious ads still found their way into my feed so more work needs to be done there – especially if Instagram wants to keep it’s artsy image it used to protect so fiercely.
3. Your feed will change massively, but you’ll hardly notice.
Seems like an odd statement but let me explain. The algorithm is designed to show you the best stuff it thinks you may have missed out on if you haven’t checked your account for a while.Because the average person now follows around 800+ accounts you’ll not likely go back through 10+ hours of content in your feed anyway. So Instagram will now serve you up a ‘best of the best’ in your feed.
From what I could tell it seemed to serve me content that had higher than average likes for that user, or that had plenty of comments from mutual followers. This explains an 18 hour-old post of a friend’s baby being the very first picture in my feed. Although I rarely like (if ever) pictures of my friend’s babies the algorithm saw the high like and comment ratio and seemed to realise many of this engagement was from mutual followers. So bang, I get a baby in my feed. I expect this will happen a lot and it will really piss me off in the future.
4. The free ride of social media is over.
If anything is clear it’s that marketers will now be required to put more ad dollars behind campaigns and content. Even more important than that is just how much focus will now be on great content. There will be big casualties in the coming months but the best marketers, brands and influencers will rise to the top. In the end, your feed will be far better off and you’ll laugh about that time you said you’d delete the gram.
Ask me something!
If you want to ask me anything about my feed as the Instagram test continues on my account feel free to get in touch. I’m more than happy to talk with marketers, brands or influencers about how my feed now looks and what the global rollout might look like in a few months and what the effects will be.
Have you seen your account change? I’d love to chat with you
on: Twitter & Instagram @jtowers1983 or on Snapchat @jt1983