If you’re one of the 400 million Instagram users out there, it’s likely that over the last few weeks some of the brands, influencers, and friends you follow began urging you to turn on notifications for their accounts so that they won’t disappear from your feed. Instagram’s rumored algorithm change, designed to bump up photos and videos from your network that it thinks you’re most interested in, caused quite the uproar. So much so that complaints about the move forced Instagram to make time to publicly respond to the rumors.
What we haven’t seen much of in the media is the good associated with such a possible algorithm change. If history is any indicator, the initial public backlash will subside, and consumers will actually learn to like the change. Whenever a social platform announces a shift, users take to their social channels to voice their opposition. Fast forward just one week, and everyone has accepted the new norm and moved on.
If Instagram adopts the rumored algorithm, the new experience will be in line with likes of its parent company, Facebook, and Pinterest. Instagram’s change would not be unfamiliar and is arguably a move to better engage consumers that want a personalized experience. Influencers, brands, and consumers should be excited. Here’s why:
1. The curated experience
With the addition of an algorithm that uses your Instagram engagement history to deliver content you’re most likely to engage with first, we will be one step closer to social media as a fully curated, personalized experience. No longer will we be subject to information overload when opening up the app. Instead of having to dig for what we’re interesting in, we’ll see photos and videos from our network that are specifically geared toward what we want to see most.
Instagram has found that people miss, on average, 70 percent of their feed. That’s no shock. Maybe you’ve had a busy day at work or are in a different time zone while traveling. The way Instagram works today, you can only see the most recent few hours of posts. If you follow hundreds of accounts, there’s really no way you can possibly keep up with all the content that goes through your feed each day. That’s why having an algorithm determine what content you are most likely to like and re-share will enhance your experience with the app. Now you can feel free to follow back that distant cousin or former coworker without having your feed be a never-ending-stream of photos of people you don’t recognize hanging out in places you’ve never been to.
2. Better targeted, high-quality content
To date, many brands’ approach to social media has felt like a “spray and pray” tactic, pushing out volumes of content and hoping followers engage — or at least pay attention. Right now, all of a brand’s followers see the exact same content stream, even if they are in completely different buyer segments. Wouldn’t you prefer to see content that reflects your relationship with the brand instead? With Instagram’s new algorithms, brands will finally be forced to think about strategy and how they can create higher quality, targeted content to specifically engage their targeted audiences. This starts by understanding those audiences, which should come as a breath of fresh air to all of us consumers.
If the algorithm takes Facebook’s newsfeed approach, which it very may well do, high-quality content that drives engagement – not posting frequency – will drive what you see in your feed. Influencers who have worked hard to create engagement with their Instagram community are likely to come out on top with this change, as they’re already receiving a high rate of engagement per post and understand their followers. That means branded content will have to work hard to land in your 150-posts queue, which in turn means more thought and data being put into brand Instagram content strategies.
Mollie Spilman is CRO of Criteo.