Instagram Algorithm an Improvement for Users AND Brands

by Bill McCown - Mar 18, 2016

By now, every digital marketing professional has heard the news about Instagram’s algorithm update. But, there’s no need to hit the panic switch (save that for Google’s algorithm changes). This is good news!

“I’m really excited about this update,” said Jay Joyce with The Idea People. “This is a great opportunity for brands and influencers to gain more traction and visibility within an Instagram user’s feed.”

When Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012, it was only a matter of time before they made changes to make the platform more profitable and brand-friendly, and now they're making that step.

What is Instagram Changing?

Charlotte digital marketing agency The Idea People evaluates the Instagram algorithm update.The algorithm will abandon the chronological nature of user’s feeds. Instead, posts at the top of the feed will be ones that are most relevant to the user based off their habits. "If the user frequently likes photos or videos from a certain account, that account's content is much more likely to be visible," added Joyce.

Posts won’t be omitted, they’ll still be there, but in a different order than the time they were created.

According to Instagram, an average of 70 percent of content in a person’s feed is never seen. This means a user may miss out on pictures or videos they care about. The example Instagram used in their news release was, “if your favorite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up.”

This is likely to cause engagement to increase as well as frequency of visits to the app.

How it Affects Marketers

Pinpoint Ad Accuracy

“With the algorithm change comes extra data collection, and there is going to be a lot of new data to work with” said Joyce.

With extra user behavior data, get ready for improved targeting opportunities. Sponsored posts were used before, but the new data being collected will help further target the right demographics.

Organic Must be Earned

Be aware, however, unless your Instagram content has been showing signs of high engagement, your organic interactions may decrease. In order for a user to see your content pre-update, they simply had to be following you. Now, they must have shown signs of being interested in what you post (liking, commenting, etc.) This is not necessarily a bad thing; It may encourage marketers to improve their Instagram content.

Instagram vs. Twitter

Why is the reaction to Instagram’s announcement positive, while there was an uproar when Twitter released a similar plan? The answer is simple, and it offers insight of why Instagram will be more profitable than twitter: Instagram’s update does not change the essence of the platform, Twitter’s does. Instagram is about sharing experiences through imagery – nothing more, nothing less. Twitter’s appeal is the feeling of receiving updates in real-time. If the right-here-right-now nature of Twitter is changed, it may end in users dropping.


Instagram was careful to mention that they will be closely monitoring feedback over the coming few months, so be prepared to make changes on the fly.

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