Keep Calm and Trust in Instagram’s Algorithmic Feed Update

For anyone in marketing who’s been paying enough attention to know that Facebook owns Instagram, the announcement earlier this year that Instagram would be creating an algorithm to help its users see updates in their feed that they “care most about,” probably wasn’t much of a surprise.

And while the announcement may have sent some into a tailspin of “turn on notifications” messaging, worried that they’d disappear entirely from every feed they’d once enjoyed access to, more seasoned marketers understand that the announcement is probably not any reason to panic.

After all, social media is supposed to be about connecting users with other users, not necessarily about connecting potential brand champions with brands they’ve yet to experience.

If most of Instagram’s current users are missing out on a majority of their feed due to a combination of the popularity of the app and the inherent limitations of its reverse chronological default presentation, then instituting an algorithm that better serves the users is likely warranted.

What This May Mean for Marketers and Advertisers Using Instagram

The algorithm is being launched to organize photos in the order that Instagram thinks users would like, based on levels of interest. Like with all social media, the challenge for marketers will lie in creating content that speaks to user’s interests. The real change that the algorithm will bring lies in how it affects the use of paid posts.

The launch of the algorithm will give advertisers more opportunities to serve ads in feed, and with better placement. Much like with Facebook, this will mean a decline in organic reach on Instagram, which will lead advertisers to have to spend on the platform for their content to show. 

However, it is most likely the case that the algorithm for Instagram will work differently than the current Facebook algorithm. It seems unlikely that Facebook will turn its back on the opportunity to promote the fact that running paid content on both channels will help brands find different users without cannibalizing users from the other platform.

What This Means for Brands on Instagram

If you are ahead of the game and are already running ads on Instagram, then you’re in good position to take advantage of the coming changes. Keep running paid posts, while building up your knowledge base of what works within the current environment. That way, when the algorithm finally rolls out, you’ll be even farther ahead of the game. 

If your brands have yet to run paid ads on Instagram, now is the time to start thinking about incorporating a paid Instagram strategy into your mix. That way, when the algorithm finally launches, you won’t be left behind.

Maintaining High Quality Content

The quality of your Instagram content will be more important than ever, going forward. The chances are very good that in the future, better content will have a greater chance of being shown higher within the feed.

This will reward the marketers and advertisers that have been creating or curating quality content all along, and punish those who have relied on Instagram’s heretofore lack of an algorithm to get any attention for content or advertising that is less than stellar.

The new algorithm will leave room for massive growth in paid advertising. Brands will have less control over where their unpaid content will be shown, and more importantly, if their content will even be shown. If anything, rolling out a new algorithm that purports to champion the user experience may do something to stem the steady decline in organic engagement on Instagram.

Some marketers out there may be of the opinion that the change could drive users away from the platform in protest. But if we’ve learned anything from Facebook’s rollout of a similar update, users are far more likely to make a tremendous amount of noise regarding change, but rarely do they disregard the feed or exit the platform.

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