As its role in our ever-changing social media landscape continues to evolve, Instagram updates have been announced—and they indicate some pretty significant changes to the platform. First—it will be adding two new feeds to the app, and secondly—it is updating the existing home feed with more content from accounts you don’t already follow (i.e., recommendations).
This is great news for some but was naturally met by suspicion from others who aren’t so keen to have their social media diet dictated by outside forces. In proactively addressing the issues of presenting content you didn’t opt-in to seeing, though, Instagram announced that it is bringing back the chronological feed, which only contains content from followed accounts.
The other new feed that Instagram is introducing is called Favorites, and it has a lot in common with Twitter’s lists. As the name suggests, this is where you can mark your top follows and curate a particular section of accounts that you definitely don’t want to miss new posts from.
The update is confirmed to be rolling out soon and is already being tested by a group of select users.
The three feeds will include:
Home: The current iteration that Instagram users are familiar with—this feed will continue to content is ranked algorithmically based on how interested you’re likely to be in specific posts. It will also now include an increasing number of recommendations.
Favorites: A new introduction to the offering—this feed contains content from accounts that you want to make sure you don’t miss things from. You can choose which accounts appear in this feed, like Twitter lists.
Following: For those looking for a predictable and unfiltered experience—Instagram is bringing back this option which will present a chronological list of posts just from accounts you follow.
The motivation behind the Instagram update
So, do these new updates give users more control over their experience? In a video published by Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri, the two new feeds are previewed, and details are shared regarding changes to the existing home feed:
Mosseri says these changes are being implemented to empower users and allow them to have more positive feelings around the time they spend in the app. He believes that higher levels of customization will ultimately produce a better experience and reinforce what makes the app great to begin with. Of course, he also acknowledges that the main feed will continue venturing further away from the content people have opted into.
While describing the new ‘Following’ feed, Mosseri says:
The third we’re calling ‘Following’ — and it’ll be a chronological list of posts just from accounts you follow, because Home is going to have more and more recommendations over time.
Content discovery continues to be a top priority
This announcement clearly solidified that Instragam increasingly sees itself as a place where people can discover content, get inspired, and build an audience. It doesn’t come without its own set of risks, though. Taking a heavier-handed approach to what they present could lead to a worse experience if people suddenly find they’re not getting enough of the content they want to see when they open the Instagram app.
Instagram has partially mitigated this risk by allowing users to quickly switch over to either the Favorites or Following feeds from an easily accessible drop-down menu.
As mentioned, these are already available in testing for some users. Mosseri says he hopes the whole experience will launch in the first half of this year.
Impact for marketing and business
So, what does this all mean for the evolving role of Instagram as it relates to business and marketing? To get some more insight into the topics, one of our junior marketeers, Stephie Gerfin, shares her thoughts. Stephie supports our clients with their content marketing (SEO) and (organic) social media activities.
Well, here we have another big Instagram update! So what are the opportunities for brands?
I think it has two sides. I am very excited for the wider variety of content and, therefore, the higher possibility to stumble upon something new that you really like. Until now, this has been covered mainly by Insta Reels. So as long as people still use the standard feed and therefore might discover more and more creators, brands, products, etc. So as long as the regular feed is still being used, it is a very cool transformation for all parties.
How do you think these changes will impact user behavior?
Well, it is true that certain people might only look at the Following and Favourites feed because they were annoyed by the “other stuff” anyway. That way they can control what they see and what they spend their time on. This is nice for the user experience for these particular people to make it more enjoyable for them. But from a marketing (brands) and maybe even Influencers/small businesses perspective, this might not be that great. Less people might stumble upon their content which can impact their growth or reach.
What do you personally think of the update?
In my opinion, it is excellent! I spend the most time in the Reels sector anyway because I like seeing content from all different types of people and brands. Therefore I am excited about the variety of posts I will be getting/seeing. And also, the Following Feed might be nice if I want to check in with friends and family and what they were up to. Only the Favourites Feed will probably not be for me. In terms of how it will reflect any larger shifts in the way people use social media, only time will tell how large the number of people with a mindset that is either open or opposed to these changes really is.