Moving with the Insta-Rhythm: What Instagram’s Changes Mean for its Users

in Digital Marketing | by Marisa Rando

Instagram has been a hot topic lately with platform updates that are shaking up the social world. Its most recent installment? An algorithm-based news feed. Every day it becomes more evident that Instagram is mirroring its big-sister brand, Facebook. It started with a sponsored ad every once in a while to ads appearing every third or fourth picture. Now the platform has completely renovated its news feed and time-tracking methods. Although Instagram is certainly making wise business decisions by following suit with Facebook, could these changes be driving users away from the platform?

Why the Public’s Not Feeling It
Instagram’s “new and improved” news feed algorithm is sparking a lot of controversy among users who’ve enjoyed the platform’s simple interface. Some users believe the algorithm is a way for the platform to increase ad placement. For example, if Instagram is announcing it can alter the order of news feeds based on user interests, it will most likely sell space at an increased price to advertisers. This gives advertisers access to the top of their target audience’s news feed. Increased ad placement will affect Instagram’s engagement stratgey, transforming a network that was once dedicated to  #organicvibes to another pay-to-play platform. A channel that once showed posts of individuals and brands chosen by the user is now pushing sales through personal feeds to an un-wanting audience. 

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Organic Engagement  #TBT
The beauty of Instagram is that underdog brands, businesses and individuals can reach users organically and creatively. By posting enticing and cutting-edge grams, these Instagram pros have been able to gain #instafame and build communities of willing and engaged followers. Instagram is now putting the knife in organic engagement, saying “no more” with its news feed algorithm. Instead, influencers and businesses are being told that followers come with a price tag. Businesses beware—the Insta-game has switched focus from filters to finances.

The Future of Instagram
Although all of this may sound like a reason to riot, it isn’t. As digital marketers, we understand the mutual (yes, mutual) benefit this will provide Instagram and its users. As marketing professionals, our main goal is to bridge the gap between users and the respectable brands that fit their lifestyle. Facebook’s implementation of customized news feeds has proven to perform exceptionally well with an algorithm that guides users to businesses that match their interests. Using this method, industries and people have been able to establish better relationships because they are based on commonalities. This innovation, although disruptive, is designed to enhance the user experience by gaining a better understanding of likes, dislikes and anticipating what audiences want to see more of.

So, what is to be said about this #instacrisis? Algorithm-based platforms (started by Google) are revolutionizing the way we interact online. As experts in digital, we embrace the change and look with optimistic eyes toward the expansion of social networks. This is a huge opportunity to build better connections, but will your brand be able to break through to the top?