Watch the backlash unfold as Instagram gets personal
Since its initial release in October 2010, Instagram has continued to grow at a rapid rate, to a point where it now boasts over 400 million users and 80 million photo shares per day. It’s also one of the fastest growing social networks ever, reaching this incredible amount of users in less than five years. Facebook on the other hand, took six years to reach the 400 million mark – with Twitter still yet to reach it, despite being over four years older than Instagram.
So, with everything seemingly going Instagram’s way, it’s fair to say their recent announcement – which will soon see a monumental change to the way it will work, is a somewhat unwelcome occurrence to some. In the next few months, Instagram will be following in the steps of its parent company, Facebook, and begin using personalised algorithms based on each individual user.
This means that users will no longer see the most recent posts showing first, but rather the posts they are likely to care most about. According to a recent Instagram news post, this is based on the likelihood of a user being interested in the content, their relationship with the person posting, as well as the timeliness of the post. In the same article, they also explain the reason for this change, stating that people – on average – miss 70% of their feeds, so the update will ultimately help to improve user experience, as the most relevant content will display first.
Some of the feedback on this change has been tainted by disappointment and irritation, with #RIPInstagram trending on Twitter shortly after the announcement. Here’s just a taste of what some social media users have to say, which aren’t exactly glowing endorsements – although we doubt it will see them actually stop using the social platform:
— Jamison Foser (@jamisonfoser) March 15, 2016
What you guys thinking about the proposed Instagram algorithm feed changes? One of the reasons I don't use Facebook anymore ? #RIPInstagram
— Stylonylon (@juliarebaudo) March 16, 2016
— Dave Giglio (@thedavecoast) March 15, 2016
Much of the criticism surrounding the personalised algorithms currently used by Facebook centre on the fact that the content users are shown is not a true reflection of their interests – and that there’s a great deal of paid content too. Despite these user concerns, Twitter also added a similar personalisation feature recently, but this is optional however, and can be turned off if you’re not a fan!
Of course from a business perspective, there are potential benefits to Instagram’s change in algorithms – more personalised feeds can help brands get their content in front of the right people quickly, and help them connect with more targeted audiences. This can then increase brand engagement, and in turn the development of more meaningful digital relationships between brands and consumers.
At the same time nonetheless, this change does also come with some downfalls. Now posts are being prioritised based on each user, this can in turn hinder the organic reach of posts – meaning that brands, as cited by TechCrunch ‘might lose the reach of a previously reliable marketing channel, the same way they did with Facebook pages.’
Ultimately, the new personal touch to Instagram’s algorithms can certainly benefit users and businesses – as well as advertisers of course. But whether or not this is going to lead to companies having to pay to get more people to see their posts, resulting in feeds filled with paid content, is something we’re very keen to see.