Two weeks ago, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) announced it would abandon the chronological feed and will instead roll out a new feed that will use an algorithm to prioritize certain posts based on users’ personal interests. Facebook itself made similar changes back in 2011 when they switched from a chronological feed to an algorithm-based real-time feed.
What does this mean for us Instagram users? It simply means that we will no longer be able to follow posts chronologically as these will be prioritized in our individual feeds based on those posts that interest us the most. The level of interaction with each post will determine this interest, whether that be the frequency of ‘likes’, the number of comments, or the similarities in areas of interest.
The changes do not mean posts will be left out, just that the order of posts appearing in your feed will be determined by your level of engagement. ‘All the posts will still be there, just in a different order’, their official statement confirms. For the new algorithm-based real-time Instagram feed, posts that you systematically engage and interact with will be prioritized to appear in your feed first, and those you interact with the least will be relegated to the bottom of your feed. The effects of these changes will impact all of us differently depending on the number of people we follow and number of followers we have.
If you follow a handful of people, these changes will not affect you much as you will still be able to see everybody’s post eventually. The same will happen if you have only a few followers. The assumption here is that your feed is relatively short and you can keep up with it, meaning you will eventually still get to see everyone’s post regardless of the ranking on the feed.
If you follow hundreds or thousands of people, then you’ll first see posts from the people you interact with the most, ending with those you interact with the least or not at all. Instagram asserts that ‘people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds’ because of the sheer number of photos and video shared on a daily basis. I can imagine that if I followed, say 5000 Instagrammers, it would be no easy task to keep up with all their updates daily, and its likely accurate I will miss 70 percent of the posts due to the sheer length of my feed. ‘Instead of scrolling back through hours of posts you may have missed in all the time you spent off Instagram, the first pictures in your feed will be those that the platform thinks you’re likely to like the most, based on your previous interactions on Instagram’, a Vanity Fair article further elaborates.
Instagram’s aim is to make sure we don’t miss those posts we care about the most. With 400 million users and counting, the company feels it’s time to prioritize curated content so that our feeds can remain relevant to us users; this way high levels of engagement are maintained. Whether we like this new change or not is not relevant, only that it will be rolled out gradually over the coming months. The changes are not imminent as Instagram tweeted on Monday saying, ‘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’.
So here’s what we can do.
For those who follow a small number of people, you might not notice much of a difference. As such there is nothing much to do as you will be able to keep abreast of all your Instagrammers’ updates eventually.
For those that follow a lot of people, two things can be done. You can begin to interact more with your favorite Instagrammers, if you’re not doing so already, so their posts rank higher on your feed. If you prefer to not interact much (likes or comments), but still want to see your favorite Instagrammers’ posts, only then should you turn on notifications to get a message when they post something; this way you won’t miss their post all the way down at the bottom of your feed.
The takeaway is, you don’t have to turn on notifications for everyone as many users are requesting on social media. Only do so if two criteria are met (1) that you have way too many followers to keep up with comfortably on a regular basis, and (2) you don’t normally engage with your favorite Instagrammers. Turning on notifications means signing up to get those disruptive push alerts every time that user posts something to Instagram; this is sure to drive anyone crazy with all those beeps.
For the sake of remaining productive, please shut down it down and turn off the notifications if you can help it. You can always go check on the handful Instagrammers you’d like to hear from by searching for them at a time of your choosing. Turn off the notifications.
Photo Credit: Mr. Grey (using iPad Air) || Shoot Location: Long Island Sound Beach, Connecticut
Dress: From H&M || Jacket: From Targét || shoes: From Anne Klein || Eyewear: From Marshals