At the end of March 2022, Instagram announced that users would have the option of reverting back to a chronological feed instead of an algorithm-based one. Many Instagrammers lauded the news: For a long time, a chronological feed was the app’s default setting, and some users argued that the algorithm made it harder to keep up with their friends and favorite accounts. But any major algorithm change can be a difficult adjustment, especially if you’ve spent the past five years optimizing your brand’s social content for a certain kind of feed format.
So how, exactly, will this work? And more importantly, how can you continue to reach loyal (and new!) followers as the app starts to implement these algorithmic changes? Here’s everything to know about what Instagram’s latest news means for social media marketing.
How will Instagram’s chronological feed work?
The new feature, in short, gives users more control over how their feed is formatted. When the update unrolls this year, they’ll be able to click the Instagram logo in the top left corner for a drop-down menu of feed options. One of these is “Chronological,” which will let Instagrammers view posts by all their followed accounts in order; another is “Favorites,” which will share posts from up to 50 starred accounts.
If this sounds like a big change, don’t feel too overwhelmed: The algorithm isn’t going anywhere. It will still be the site’s default feed, and it’s worth noting that Stories — one of Instagram’s most popular features — will only be viewable while users are scrolling through their default feed. Even the chronological feed’s most avid fans will likely still encounter recommended content.
Last year, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri shared some insight into how the algorithm works. “We use a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose,” Mosseri wrote in a 2021 press release. “Each part of the app — Feed, Explore, Reels — uses its own algorithm tailored to how people use it. People tend to look for their closest friends in Stories, but they want to discover something entirely new in Explore.” In other words, on their feed, users are most likely to see content shared by accounts they regularly interact with. On Explore, they’re likely to see posts about the content they regularly like and save.
How will Instagram’s new changes impact marketers?
In some ways, these changes are great for brands! Instagram even announced that it will move more recommended content to its default feed, meaning marketers will be able to reach new audiences via the feed and the Explore tab.
The key challenge here will be drawing in new followers, as these formats will give brands opportunities to connect even deeper with their existing, loyal audience. If a user follows thousands of accounts, for example, they might not necessarily interact with all of your posts — but the chronological feed gives the opportunity to reintroduce you to your followers.
How can I make the most of Instagram’s new feed options?
The “Favorites” setting offers some unique opportunities. With such a limited number of favorite follows, users will really have to discern which accounts matter to them the most — and down the line, you could find innovative ways to incentivize and encourage your followers to put you on their more exclusive feed. This feature will also help you get to know the demographics of your most loyal audience a little better.
The chronological feed, on the other hand, will re-revolutionize the app by making it all the easier to share time-sensitive content. The algorithmic feed sometimes shows users images from days ago — if you’re covering an event or trend or reacting to a piece of news, your post could be irrelevant by the time it gains traction. Now, users will likely gravitate towards the chronological setting when they want to see fresh, timely content… and that’s exactly where your brand can come in.
Want to learn more about how your brand can tap into Instagram’s most recent changes? Get in touch!