Instagram Changes: The Dangers of Defying Your Audience

30 March 2016

As you will all be aware, over the next couple of weeks the changes Instagram have announced will become a reality. What was previously a chronological timeline, will now be decided by an algorithm which puts the posts it thinks the users will most want to see at the top of the feed.

Instagram Users Rebelling

As has been widely reported, from the Telegraph to the New York Times, these changes have not gone down well with the people most important to Instagram- their users. Many, including their most followed users such as Kylie Jenner, have expressed their anger at the changes, and have asked their followers to turn on their notifications so that they don’t miss any of their posts.

While the proposed changes have angered users, the algorithm driven feed won’t be officially introduced for weeks to come, and will be trialled on a tiny amount of users first. Currently, Instagram estimates that users miss at least 70% of their feed, the hope is that the new algorithm will ensure that the posts they would be most interested in seeing will not be lost.

What does this mean for advertising on Instagram?

This isn’t the first big change that Instagram has introduced in recent years. The introduction of adverts nestled in our feed, introduced in 2013, was met with scepticism initially but now it has become just another part of Instagram that users have allowed into their feeds.

These new algorithm changes do mean that Instagram will now be able to have more control over their advertising. Traditionally, algorithms artificially promote adverts and branded content above organic user content, which critics have said is taking away the ‘authenticity’ of Instagram; one of its most popular selling points is that users can curate their own feeds.

For brands, the concern is that because their users may not always actively ‘like’ or comment on their photos, they may be missed from the algorithm. However, all changes should be looked at as opportunities. If you are concerned that you may now be missed off of the top of the Instagram feed, it might be time for you to rethink your social media strategy.

Past changes to social media

This sort of algorithm change isn’t the first that has happened in the social world- both Twitter and Facebook have already introduced algorithm based feeds (although users can opt out). These changes were also met with similar scorn and derision from users, with groups being created on Facebook to protest the changes.

It is completely expected when making drastic changes to a platform, for users to be negative about the changes. They have gotten used to a specific way of getting their information, and view any prospective changes with extreme caution. Eventually once the issues have been ironed out, the changes could be very positive for the users, and brands using the platform for promotion.