There has been a lot of kerfuffle recently in the content marketing world about Instagram’s announcement of planned changes to the platform. With many influencers encouraging their followers to turn on notifications for their posts, 4Ps decided to look into the proposed changes and how they may affect Instagram visibility for businesses and influencers.

What are the proposed changes to Instagram?

Instagram has announced that it intends to change its algorithm in line with parent platform Facebook, moving away from a chronological feed to an interest-based feed Instagram’s feed will now be based on what content users have engaged with in the past, the relationship the user has to the person posting, and the timing of the post. Presumably, it will also focus on content that has generated a lot of interactions more generally.

Instagram says that these changes are being implemented because users are not seeing around 70% of content in their Instagram feeds. This isn’t surprising.  With the number of Instagram users increasing rapidly, the rise of Instagram influencers in fashion, food, fitness and other industries, and increase in brand activity on the platform, , each user is likely gaining hundreds of photos per day on their feed. They can’t keep up with all that content, so it’s natural that they will miss a significant amount of it. Instagram believes that the switch to an interest-based feed will ensure that users don’t miss the content that’s most important to them.

How will these changes affect brands and influencers?

Firstly, it’s important to note that the effects of these changes are unlikely to be as devastating to brands and influencers as the recent Facebook changes. This is for a couple of reasons:

  • Instagram has assured users that all content posted to the platform will appear in the feed, unlike Facebook, where many posts disappear from feeds completely.
  • Perhaps more cynically, it is much harder for Instagram to differentiate between brands, influencers and end-users, than it is for Facebook. On Facebook, brands and influencers use pages rather than personal profiles; on Instagram, all users have the same type of profile. This means that it is much easier for Facebook to force pages to use ads to boost their content.

If anything, it is possible that these changes might benefit brands and influencers with large followings, because they have a larger potential audience to engage with their content. Since Instagram assures us that good content will be rewarded, this means that popular brand content is likely to show higher in feeds.

There has also been a bit of concern over discovery on Instagram. It’s highly unlikely that the changes as they have currently been proposed will limit discovery, for two reasons:

  • Discovery is already sectioned off – top performing pictures with high engagement already appear above the chronological feed of other content using the same hashtags.
  • Most importantly, Instagram hasn’t actually proposed any changes to the discovery feeds. I’m not really sure where this worry has come from, but there’s no reason to think that Instagram will change the search function at all, since the proposed changes are limited to individual users’ feeds. So we can all stop worrying. #YAY.

So what should we do?

The most important thing is to keep producing high quality content that encourages your users to engage and interact. Use Instagram as the social media platform that it is, rather than just a place to share images. If you’re a brand who is pushing out substandard content just to get pictures of your products in front of your customers for free, then yes, this change might be a problem for you. But as long as you’re producing high quality content that is valuable to your users and which facilitates social interactions within the Instagram community, you should be golden.

4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how social media and content are evolving together in order to keep pace with new developments in platform popularity and user behaviour, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and technology across all inbound channels.