Instagram is working hard to compete with Facebook as the most popular social network on the internet. Launched in October 2010, the app currently had about 400 million active monthly users as of January 2016 (1, 2). This is still a far cry from Facebook’s 1.55 billion active monthly users, but Instagram has been growing quickly since its inception. “We crossed 10,000 users within hours,” says Instagram founder Kevin Systrom. Facebook hit 400 million users in the first quarter of 2010, over six years after launch (3,4). Though the numbers are currently far apart, data shows the gap will quickly be narrowing. In 2014, the number of active users on Instagram grew by 47% – and the number of active users on Facebook dropped by 9% (5). In light of this rapid growth, Instagram has announced a huge change in the way their post feed will work.
Depending on how long you’ve been a Facebook user, you may remember when they switched their algorithm from showing you the most recent posts to the most popular posts. Now, Instagram is following suit. In a statement released March 15, Instagram announced, “…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.” The more you interact with a user, the more likely their posts are to appear at the top of your feed. You’re also more likely to see advertisements.
The Effects for Users
So far, the response to Instagram’s announcement has been mostly negative, with hashtags like #RIPInstagram becoming popular across social media. One Twitter poll has only 6% of voters responding that the change is good. Users have been commenting that they don’t want to be told what they want to see. Singer-songwriter John Mayer’s open letter has reached over 67,000 likes in just few days, and pretty much sums up the general outcry against the new algorithm:
The Effects for Small Businesses
Many businesses, both small and large, use Instagram to showcase their products and services and to engage with their customers. Small businesses (and user experience) already took a hit in 2013 when Instagram announced the introduction of sponsored posts and we can’t help but think this update is financially-motivated as well. Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, also follows the “popular posts” policy and saw over 80% of its $5.8 billion dollars in revenue come from paid ads (6), with many small businesses not getting exposure without spending money on advertising. It seems that Instagram is going to follow that same path, though we will cross our fingers and hope that we’re wrong.
Making the Best of It
For the very social-media-savvy, this algorithm could be great for your business. That is, if you’re consistently producing high-quality photos with funny captions and relevant hashtags, and garnering followers, likes, and “re-grams.” If you’re not on top of your Instagram game, now is the time to shape up or ship out. First and foremost, make sure your posts are visually pleasing – that’s what Instagram is all about after all. Invest time into creating images (and captions) that are engaging and speak to your target market. Interact with other users, especially your followers. We know that this sounds unappealing or too time-consuming to many business-owners. That’s why RealReach Marketing offers a variety of social media services, from consulting to complete management to help you get Real Results.
Contact us now for more information.