So, Instagram has ditched its chronologically ordered feed and with it, caused outrage across the internet. Instead of pictures from the people you follow as they are posted, an algorithm will decide what appears at the top.
This is similar to how Facebook operates – the type of content you interact with will appear at the top. It will also sort images in the order of what it thinks will be most interesting to you.
But why? Instagram is probably one of the last social networking platforms left on which people make sure they see everything. I, like most, am guilty of scrolling on Instagram until I reach the image I saw last time I used the app. When people are that committed to ensuring they see each and every photo, it has to be asked: Instagram felt the need to change things… why?
The general user response was less than pretty. In fact, it closely resembled the 28 Days Later Rage. More than 250,000 people signed and shared a Change.org petition via the hashtag #KeepInstagramChronological.
From a business point of view, money of course comes into play. Those able to afford paid ads on Instagram need not worry about the changes as they can guarantee themselves a spot at the top of your newsfeed. But for smaller businesses, these updates could do real harm to the reach and engagement of their Instagram posts that were doing just fine organically.
Therein lies the rub. Social media is about user engagement and for businesses, it is about building and maintaining a loyal user base through great, clever, honest interaction. The last thing anyone needs is an algorithm trying to second guess their human reactions. Has Instagram learned nothing from Twitter Moments or, better still, Facebook’s disastrous ‘Year in Review’ posts that were chosen based on which user’s pictures saw the most activity that year. How lovely for Facebook users to be shown that the highlight of their year had been the death of a loved one or their home burning down.
The moral of the story is ‘never send an algorithm to do a human’s work’ or better still, stop trying to control every element of how people interact with your platform and leave social media in the hands of the people who use it.
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