Instagram gets a new filter

PR & Social Media Consultant Ishbel MacLeod gives her opinions on the news that Instagram could be switching to an algorithm based timeline.

I’ve just got over the news that Twitter could be switching to an algorithm based timeline and now Instagram has announced that it will be becoming more like its big brother Facebook and following suit.

Instagram says that the average user misses 70 per cent of posts on their feeds – mainly due to the fact that people are posting more, with Forrester research from 2015 finding that the number of posts being sent on Instagram more than doubled in 2015.

The new method, set to be introduced in the coming months, will be ordered to show the moments that Instagram thinks users care about the most, with the examples they give being gig pictures and puppies (we’re on board with the puppy pictures).

It has been suggested that this is not something that is going to roll out overnight: Instagram said that to begin with “all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”

However, the implication is that some content will be filtered out entirely.

So – what does this mean for social media marketing?

So far it seems unclear if or how this will affect sponsored posts – if it’s anything like Facebook it should still appear in the same way down the page.

It will, however, be the organic posts that could either go incredibly well or incredibly poorly on Instagram for brands.

Some brands will be glad to see an algorithm come in to play on Instagram, as recent stats have shown that engagement on the platform is falling – Locowise reported that engagement rate for Instagram posts was 0.84 per cent of the total audience in February, down 11.58 per cent from the previous month.

However, other, smaller brands could fear the change, if it means that there is more of an opportunity to be missed.

While the move is understandable, especially since Instagram is owned by algorithm king Facebook, I can’t help but wonder (as Carrie Bradshaw would put it) if it means Instagram is losing some of its charm.

I mean, doesn’t the ‘Insta’ part of Instagram come from ‘instant’? Maybe it’s just me, but I enjoy scrolling through my Instagram feed until I have minor RSI in my thumb, knowing I’m seeing everything that the pages I follow are posting – be it kitten pictures from a colleague or brand shots from Tiffany & Co.

I love the mix of posts that appear on my page, with my timeline showing a Game of Thrones behind-the-scenes pic one second, and a picture of a friend’s boozy lunch or pretty nails the next. It’s a hodge-podge of all the things I like and I want to see it ALL.

The dream outcome would be if users get the choice: chronological or algorithm, but I doubt this would happen.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m normally a fan of Instagram filters, but in this case, I’m voting #nofilter.

Written by Ishbel Macleod, PR & Social Media Consultant.