Instagram’s proposed new algorithm: A Good or Bad thing?


BY Sam Davies


30 March 2016

Reading Time: 3 minutes

(Update 29th March – It seems Instagram may have put the stall on the roll out of this update for no.. It will happen though and the points below remain valid when it does!)

The social media world has been awash with the news of Instagrams dreaded new ‘algorithm’ which launches todayBefore I get into what I think about it, I suppose we should break down exactly what it is.

Just like Facebook a few years back, Instagram (under the facebook banner) have decided that rather than show you a chronological feed of posts from users you follow, they will serve up a selection of what they think will resonate with you. Instagram said in a blog post:

“If your favourite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in. And when your best friend posts a photo of her new puppy, you won’t miss it.”

Ok so that is their spin on it. Looking around the web (and particularly on Instagram itself) you can see a deluge of complaints about how this is going to ruin Instagram and ‘crush my business’. It’s not just small scale complaining either, Tony Bradley of Forbes wrote in an op-ed piece“The algorithm isolates you from the reality that there are other views and beliefs out there, and gives you a false sense of validation that your views and beliefs are more popular than they really are in society as a whole.”

Hrmmm. Ok that seems to be taking things slightly out of context. We are talking about Instagram here right. Remember, the app that was dubbed ‘hipstergram’ and only good for half-assed wanna-be photographers snapping  artsy angles  of their latte’s. It seems that somewhere between facebook snapping it up (excuse my pun) and 2016, Instagram has grown out of its hipster roots and evolved into a beast of a marketing platform. People are very scared that their little slice of the pie is going to get smaller.

But people are always scared. Being scared and complaining isn’t going to change Zuckerberg’s mind. When Facebook took the plunge into manicuring content there was a huge outcry and the  business sector, in particular, were up in arms. “How dare they monetize their free, amazing marketing platform”. Why wouldn’t they? You would have. You probably would have done it the moment you hit 10k users, not 1 billion… That number was the driving force behind the algorithm in the first place. With so many users and so much content, a chronological timeline just wasn’t going to work into the future, it needed to be manicured. It also forces us to stay relevant and stay engaged. It lets the crumbs fall to the ground. Sure you might have to work a bit harder to get seen and might even need to boost some posts, but if people are liking and engaging you will continue to show up in their feeds. This is a good thing for us in the Digital marketing world!

Think about it, If you follow 300 people and check the app twice a day how much of that are you actually going to see? On average people miss 70% of their feeds. With an algorithm based on relevancy, the chance of your post sitting there in your potential customers view actually increases, as long as you are doing good work!  The numbers for Instagram, facebook and Snapchat are crazy, especially in the older age brackets, social is no longer the realm of teenagers, both my parents and grandparents are probably checking their facebook feeds as I type. We are living in a golden age of marketing, where we can pinpoint tiny demographics for a fraction of the cost of a media campaign even 5 years ago.

Obviously, time will tell and I am sure there will be some teething problems over the next few weeks and a truckload of whining. Keep that bitching away from us though, we will be busy making the most of the new landscape and continuing to evolve with social media as it grows around us.

You can catch us on Instagram @digitalnoir

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Sam Davies

Sam has been running a Digital Agency in some form or another for almost a decade. He loves the internet and the positive changes it has brought to the world but still loves time away from the glowing cubes. Surf, Fish, Drink, Cook, Laugh….Drink! You can follow him on Instagram @samdaviesdn and on Snapchat @digitalnoir