Good news for companies hoping to advertise on social media: just this week, Instagram, the world’s most popular photo-sharing platform with over 400 million users, announced that it will move from a chronological feed to a curated one.
In other words, rather than showing posts in users’ feeds in the order they were posted, Instagram will follow Facebook’s lead and display content that’s more likely to be engaged with at the top of the feed. Like Facebook, Instagram will use a complicated algorithm to determine how likely a user is to engage with content, and accordingly where it will be positioned in the feed.
As Instagram announced in a statement earlier this week, currently, people miss on average 70% of their feeds. As the platform has grown, it's become more difficult for users to keep up with all of the photos and videos shared by the people they're following. Instagram hopes that this change will improve user experience and make better the quality of content across the board.
Response to this by users has been mixed. A number of social media experts across the web have expressed dissatisfaction with this change, noting that part of Instagram’s charm was the way it displayed posts in chronological order. Nonetheless, Instagram plans to roll out this change in users’ feeds over the next few months, potentially updating it along the way.
The big winners in this change are almost sure to be brands and agencies that advertise on social media. Previously, ads were targeted and then placed in users’ feeds alongside chronological posts. With the introduction of the algorithmic feed, however, it should also become easier to target specific users—and to guarantee (rather than hope) that they’ll see your posts.
Companies and agencies familiar with Facebook’s advertising platform—which is known for its precise targeting—should soon be even more comfortable with Instagram ads. All in all, this looks like it will be a very positive change for advertisers hoping to get in front of the right people at the right times.
The caveat here is, of course, ensuring ROI. Even though ROI may be more difficult to track in marketing, it's essential to make sure that Instagram—or any other social platform—makes sense for your audience, goals, and budget before hopping on and going all-in. We’ve found with many clients that digital marketing tactics work best alongside a well-defined offline strategy that may include tactics like direct mail and outdoor advertising. The perfect mix will depend on your company and goals, but offline and online marketing techniques can work extremely well in tandem.
Though it remains to be seen exactly how these changes to Instagram will impact users and advertisers, we would be very surprised if they turned out to be anything but a good thing for companies looking to maximize their reach by advertising on the platform.
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