Instagram’s new algorithm is going to be great — here’s why

Instagram is finally rolling out its new algorithm for everyone. The network will never be the same again — good for us.

© Jordan McQueen

It’s official: In a recent blog post, Instagram confirmed rolling out their new algorithm “over the coming month”.

Ever since rumors about Instagram’s possible change to an algorithm started to spread, both, users and brands, reacted in a massive outcry — the community influencers fear a huge loss of reach, some “experts” even predict Instagram’s extinction in a matter of time. Well, people said the same about Tinder after introducing “Tinder Plus”. The so-called experts even doomed Facebook when they started to decrease organic reach. Well, Tinder is still up and running (it converted more than 500,000 users into paying customers in less than five months) and Facebook — yeah, let’s skip our lesson on Facebook.

Sure, comparing Instagram’s algorithm issue to Tinder’s freemium model might be a bit far-fetched, but basically all I try to say is that changes to a product in favor of its creator doesn’t necessarily mean the product is doomed. In case of Instagram, it’s actually a win-win. Here’s why:

Great content is a powerful ruler and context is it’s strongest weapon

The saying “Content is king” might be dull and worn-out, but it is still true: Great and original content will always outperform weak and ordinary counterparts. A change in the algorithm might enable creative users and brands to be superior to other users. I personally wish Instagram advertising would become more appealing than just pretty boys and girls wearing the latest swimwear at the beach. Creative campaigns could pay off more than ever before: Context like local or monothematic content, such as Super Bowl parties or Spring Break snapshots, might experience a rise in reach and popularity. Instagram as a whole could gain back some of the quality and beauty it had in the beginning — before cheap product placement “ruined” major parts of the social network.

More complex advertising = New jobs, new professions and new players

Let’s be honest: Instagram advertising today mostly means just sending products to influencers and paying them money for wearing / using and tagging them in their pictures. End of the road. But new algorithms and features always mean new opportunities — take a look at Facebook: Almost every single update to its newsfeed, even the incremental ones, can mean great opportunities not only for creatives but also for brands and advertisers. Facebook Check-ins elevated local stores and made the network attractive to restaurants, bars and shops. Shopping buttons give online shops new ways to convert fans into customers. Video content enables new marketing campaigns and gives brands new ways to interact with fans and customers. 360° videos are the next step and many more features are yet to come.

A more complex and personal social network will lead to more complex and personal advertising — which again will attract more brands to spend budgets on the platform. Agencies will hire more people for Instagram marketing and soon after that we will start listening to keynotes by professionals specialized in Instagram advertising. You get my point.

It will help Instagram stay relevant

Yes, people love Instagram. Yes, it outperforms any other network in terms of engagement and growth in the Western Hemisphere. And yes, predictions say that more than every third mobile phone user in the US will be on Instagram by 2020. Undoubtedly it won’t look any different in other Western countries.

But: users once loved Twitter, too. User growth exploded in 2009 and went on like this for a couple years. Now Twitter faces massive problems with generating new users: The social network recently even experienced the first quarter with no user growth at all. But Twitter lost its momentum long before that: The newsfeed didn’t change from a chronological to a contextual one for too long. Users followed more and more people over time but didn’t tend to unfollow users they are not interested in anymore. They lose overview and so their engagement shrinks. A little bit of context would have been great from time to time. Don’t get me wrong: Twitter is still a handy network. But let’s be honest: People just don’t look up your #brandhashtag to get confronted with your product or service.

So if Instagram wants to maintain its astonishing market share, it needs to give its users two major things: the ability to keep an overview and the right context for the content provided. Does it mean Instagram is going to become a little bit more like its big brother Facebook? I think it’s safe to say yes. Will I still be optimistic about it? We will see.

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