What Instagram's new algorithm means to you
If you're an avid Instagram user, chances are that you'll have seen various iterations of the above popping up all over the place. Yep, it's about that time; Instagram is changing its algorithm.
But what does that mean?!
Right, so: at the moment, you see, in your Instagram feed, people's pic updates as they happen, in chronological order. When you open up the app, you'll see a picture that was just uploaded; scroll down, and you'll see pics from three minutes ago, five minutes, 10... depending on, of course, how many people you follow and when they've been active on Instagram.
Well, from tomorrow, that's all changing – and, like Facebook, you'll be seeing people's pictures based on how much interaction they've received (and, let's be honest, how much money they're paying). So, at the top of your feed will be a combination of the most popular pics – based on likes and comments – and pictures from brands and individuals who have paid Instagram to promote their pictures to the top of the list.
Why do things have to change?! 😫
Well, they say the best things in life are free – but we live in a capitalist world, where money talks. Why would Facebook – which now owns Instagram – give us this amazing form of social media, which has, for a lot of individuals and brands who use it to promote their sites, products, services etc, become a marketing tool, and let us use it for free forever? It makes no sense.
So... Should I turn on post notifications?
This is a toughie – and 100% up to each individual. If you're afraid you'll miss a vital coffee-cup picture or inspirational quote from your fave #bblogger / celebrity / Kardashian, then absolutely, turn on those post notifcations (top right hand corner, three dots – click it).
But I would ask, have you ever subscribed to post notifications on Facebook? Cos I have – and it is seriously annoying. Once you turn on those ghastly notifications, you get a pop-up alert every time the person whose notifications you're following posts an update. Like I said, this is up to each individual – but my money's on it getting really annoying, really quickly.
What's gonna happen now?
Ultimately, this is going to kind of sort the wheat from the chaff – and for those of us who use Instagram as a marketing tool (I use it to drive people towards my site by promoting the content on here), it'll mean getting really clever with our updates. Of course, it will also sort the payers from the non-payers, and while that might be frustrating if you don't feel like doling out the cash to get shown on people's timelines.
Basically, you're going to see the pics that are really popular before you see anybody else's updates – so that might mean figuring out when is a good time to post; working on what pictures people respond to (and which they don't); and, yeah, it might mean paying to promote your pics when you feel like it'll be worth it for you (say, if I had a really big blog post coming up that was a brand collaboration, and I wanted to ensure it got traffic, I might invest a few euro – see here for how I feel about taking money for content, and how you'll know.)
What should we do?
If you're a user who wants not to get lost in the melée, use your Bank Holiday evening to figure out what's what: take a note of your 20 most recent pics, and what traction they got. What pics work for you, and which don't? What time of day are your followers most engaged at? What pics bombed, and which did incredibly well? Use the results as a guideline for the next fortnight.
And if you're a lurker – a rare poster who has people they love to follow – you can turn on post notifications, sure. But you can also do what you do already; log in to Instagram and check out that person's profile by handle. It's not that complicated – and I'm sure none of us are likely to forget what Kylie Jenner's Instagram name is.