What do the changes to Instagram mean for business?

If you’re an Instagram user, your recent feed has likely been a panicked stream of ‘turn on notifications’ posts. This is due to a major change Instagram are introducing to the app. On their blog on March 15th, Instagram announced they would be switching to an algorithmic feed in the next few months, meaning users’ feeds will be based on what Instagram thinks they want to see first.

You may be surprised to learn that people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds. As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.

To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.

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.

– Instagram, March 15th 2016

Many popular account users aren’t happy with the change, hence urging their followers to turn on notifications specifically for their posts to ensure they don’t get lost amongst the shuffle.

There is no doubt that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is making this change for monetisation. Many brands joined Instagram as they realised its potential for engaging consumers, but now Instagram is veering down a similar path to Facebook. Organic reach will be limited, and users such as smaller businesses and bloggers may struggle to reach previous levels of engagement without the budget to pay for what was once free.

Without a paid marketing strategy, there is no longer a way to guarantee exposure for a given post. Instagram have promised that, at first, all posts will be shown to all followers; they will simply be out of order and optimised for relevancy. However, much like the way Facebook for business is developing, a paid strategy is the only guaranteed way to boost performance.

But is there good news too?

It seems Instagram have responded to the widespread panic with another update that they hope will win back the masses.

We want to bring you fun, flexible and creative ways to create and watch video on Instagram. As part of our continued commitment, you’ll soon have the flexibility to tell your story in up to 60 seconds of video. This is one step of many you’ll see this year. 

In the last six months, the time people spent watching video increased by more than 40 percent. And longer videos mean more diverse stories from the accounts you love… For iOS, we’re also bringing back the ability to make videos out of multiple clips from your camera roll.

– Instagram, March 29th 2016

As of last month, Instagram allowed advertisers to create 60-second videos, but they are now rolling this out to all users. Why is this good news for brands? James Quarles, global head of business and brand development at Instagram, said in a statement, “With nearly half of Instagrammers following businesses, 60-second video gives brands more creative flexibility to reach people that want to be inspired.”

When the changes are introduced, brands will be able to take advantage of the 60-second video without paying for an ad. Although judging by the algorithmic changes, advertising will be the only viable way forward for brands on Instagram.
Concerned about how your brand’s Instagram presence may be affected? Get in touch with us to talk social marketing.

You can follow us on Instagram here – we promise we won’t tell you to turn on notifications.

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