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Will the return of Instagram’s chronological feed fix its brand problems?

Meta-owned Instagram is bringing back the option to view feeds chronologically, with two choices for users – ’Favorites’ and ’Following’.

A press release announcing the move states: ”Favorites shows you the latest from accounts that you choose, like your best friends and favorite creators. In addition to this view, posts from accounts in Favorites will also show up higher in your home feed.

”Following shows you posts from the people you follow. Both Favorites and Following will show you posts in chronological order, so you can quickly catch up on recent posts.”

Despite seemingly adding more choice for its users, the release also noted that the existing algorithmic feed is set to include ”more recommendations to your feed based on your interests” – ie, more ads. Crucially, Instagram also confirmed that the default choice for users will remain the algorithmic feed, meaning that ultimately users will probably see more brand content, not less.

That effectively means that Instagram is pushing for more ads on its platform, which is both a blessing and curse for brands. The Instagram feed has been criticized for being too ad heavy and the increased competition for attention that comes from added content can lessen the impact of ads on the platform.

Polly Roberts is head of strategy and planning at Media Bounty. She says: ”Instagram users have wanted the chronological feed to return for a long time, so it seems like it will be a win in terms of user experience. And, in theory, getting rid of the algorithm should mark a return to Instagram’s roots as a photo sharing app

”The new layout also offers users the option to sort their feed by Recommendations. If businesses and advertisers focus on making high quality content, optimized for this environment, then there’s a good chance of it appearing here and thereby reaching more people. Advertisers should also think about when they set their post live, picking the right day and time for when their content will be most relevant to users.”

She also notes that there is another reason for Instagram to have made the change now, given that US lawmakers are expressing concerns about opaque and proprietary algorithms, particularly when it comes to amplifying misinformation or the general effect on users’ mental health.



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