On March 15, Instagram announced via their blog that in order to “improve your experience”, they will soon be abandoning their chronological news feed and going to a more Facebook-like algorithm.
They wrote: The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.
You would have thought they announced that they were shutting down.
With all the hype, terror, and misconceptions out there, I give you the top 3 things that your nonprofit needs to know and understand about the upcoming changes to Instagram (also called #InstagramChanges, the Instagram Algorithm, or Instagram Apocalypse – well, I coined that one).
The first thing that nonprofits need to know about the Instagram algorithm update – do not freak out.
The company tweeted on Monday:
We’re listening and we assure you nothing is changing with your feed right now. We promise to let you know when changes roll out broadly.
— Instagram (@instagram) March 28, 2016
Instagram maintains that it is still testing this technique and it has not rolled it out site-wide just yet.
2) Filtering is nothing new.
As Facebook Page admins know too well, Facebook (Instagram’s owner) uses the Edgerank algorithm to determine what you will see each time you log in to Facebook. When Facebook rolled this out, there was huge controversy.
In order to comprehend why Instagram would want this change in the face of so much opposition, it is just as important to understand why Facebook uses this method.
In Facebook’s words: Ideally, we want News Feed to show all the posts people want to see in the order they want to read them. This is no small technical feat: every time someone visits News Feed there are on average 1,500 potential stories from friends, people they follow and Pages for them to see, and most people don’t have enough time to see them all.
So how exactly does Facebook determine which of the 1,500 stories to show each user? By taking into account:
**How often you interact with a particular person or page;
**How popular and engaging a particular post is (this is measured via likes, comments, shares, clicks, views);
**Your personal history of interaction with this person or page;
**Whether or not Facebook users are hiding this specific post or marking it as spam.
Instagram will assuredly use a similar algorithm, moving away from a pure, raw chronological feed to one more tailored to each user’s preferences and engagement history.
3) Instagram genuinely wants you to have a better user experience.
It blows my mind when people scoff at this notion. Of COURSE Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and every social media site want to make the user experience the best one possible!
The competition for eyeballs and attention is fierce, and Instagram (now selling ads) wants you to stay on their site as long as possible.
Lest we forget, humans (and social media users especially) are very fickle. Online platforms and apps are often damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.
Instagram users in particular have often complained (you know who you are) that they aren’t seeing the posts that they want, and that their feed is too cluttered, and that they have no time to go through and filter out accounts they are no longer interested in.
Instagram took this user feedback into consideration. Right now, Instagram claims that “On average, people miss about 70 percent of the posts in their Instagram feed.”
The move to a more tailored experience is all about ensuring that Instagram users like you first see the “best 30 percent possible” and thus stay on in the app longer.
What you can do in the face of these Instagram changes:
GOOD STRATEGY: You can join everyone else and post the photos instructing your followers to “Turn On Notifications” for your account.
Some of your most passionate supporters may do this, ensuring that they will never miss a post from you.
The vast majority will not, simply because they will be receiving numerous such requests from other accounts, and also because you may not be their top priority on Instagram.
A harsh reality, but one that nonprofits and businesses need to face.
INTERACT MORE – Instead of asking you to turn on the notification for PAPIERPROJEKT, like you’re probably being asked by your other 300+ favorite accounts… I ask you to stay in touch a more natural way: Like the pictures you love, leave comments and give feedback on a regular basis! By doing that, you show @instagram that you care, that you’re engaged with me and that you WANT to see my content in your news feed! No annoying notification but natural and constant interaction – That’s the best thing you can do for your favorite Grammers to support them when Instagram eventually change their rules. That being said, I also recommend very highly to sign up for my newsletter to get all information and a more insight view on my work for PAPIERPROJEKT. Also, check out my blog for more crafty inspiration [Link to both in my profile]! No matter which way you stay in touch, I really appreciate your support PS: There will be new memory keeping freebies via my newsletter soon. Boom! That’s just another reason to subscribe to my mailing list, right? -Felicitas
A photo posted by PAPIERPROJEKT (@papierprojekt) on
The filtering algorithm will work in your favor if you already have an engaged following that loves your photos and comments on them.
The same rules of Facebook apply here – post great stuff that your audience loves and wants to see – and you will succeed.
Anything less than that and you will fail.
What is your Instagram strategy? Check out my Instagram & Snapchat for Nonprofits Pinterest board for more ideas, tips, and tricks to using Instagram for your nonprofit.