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Instagram feeds to evolve into algorithmic territory. Are you ready?
Say goodbye to Instagram reverse chronological feeds. An algorithm is about to determine your user experience.
A change may be imminent for Instagram users: Its feed will no longer feature familiar reverse chronological ordered photos and videos that most of us have grown to love.
Following in the footsteps of its parent company, Facebook, Instagram is testing an algorithm-based feed that is personalized based on past behaviors, similar to how Facebook displays content on its own news feed. If you’re liking more photos from a particular person, Instagram will weigh this user’s photos and display them closer to the top so that you don’t miss what the algorithm will determine as your most important social posts.
In an interview with the The New York Times, Kevin Systrom, co-founder and chief executive of Instagram, justified this change by saying that Instagram users are missing 70 percent of the posts made to their Instagram feeds: “What this is about is making sure that the 30 percent you see is the best 30 percent possible.”
The move is certainly to draw its share of detractors, especially among Instagram’s most avid users, who are accustomed to the immediacy of the photos that are often shared in real time. To address this, Instagram’s official announcement acknowledges that the experience will be rolled out in the coming months and that Instagram will “take time to get this right,” listening to user suggestions and feedback through in-app surveys, interviews and bug reports, so that the user experience is not hindered by the switch.
Hopefully, this means that the users who may want to see all 100 percent of the missed images will still get a chance (as Facebook does not do this well at all), while also speaking to the needs of the average user who is missing 70 percent.
It will be interesting to see how Instagram plans to cater the algorithm to someone who follows a smaller group of people and checks the network religiously so that they will not miss a single image; a reverse chronological feed, in that case, makes it very easy for someone to know when they left off, but an algorithmic feed may make that more difficult. Similarly, letting users flag certain people they follow as “don’t make me miss these posts” within the refined feed could meet the same goals without significantly shaking up the user experience. We’ll see what user feedback is conveyed when the new update rolls out and Instagram responds to the feedback.