My Instagram and Twitter feeds went a bit mental yesterday with the impending changes occurring to Instagram. I’m sure you noticed it… Everybody got into a bit of a panic and there were turn on post notifications images being uploaded every two minutes.
Users of the very popular photo sharing app, which also happens to be my favourite social media at the moment (go follow me here!), are worried that Instagram appear to be changing their algorithms so rather than photographs in your feed appearing chronologically as they do now, they will start to show based on a weird and wonderful set of rules much like the ones that Facebook uses. And we all hate the Facebook timeline – how many of us spent all our time trying to force Facebook to show everything in time order rather than “top posts” order?
The new algorithm, announced around a month a go I think, will mean your feed will be based on how much Instagram feel you want to see that photograph. The order will be based on your interactions with photographs using that particular hashtag and/or photographs shared by that particular user.
As I’m getting things ready to schedule this post (it’s about 10pm on Monday evening, anyone else feeling a bit jetlagged from the change to BST?!), I see that Instagram has tweeted to say they’re not making any changes right now, and they’ll let us know when it’s happening. Phew.
We're listening and we assure you nothing is changing with your feed right now. We promise to let you know when changes roll out broadly.
— Instagram (@instagram) March 28, 2016
Apparently they are testing out the changes with a handful of high profile, high powered users (not me, though) and will roll them out later, making sure they tell us before they do. So we don’t need to worry just yet.
I admit I am definitely someone who would much rather see my feed in chronological order rather than some random order that Instagram chooses based on my interactions. I enjoy thumbing through my feed and seeing what people are posting when. But the general consensus that Instagram will start hiding photographs from our feeds seems to be untrue – as far as I can see from reading the information that is available (and it’s all press stuff, so hard to know how based on fact it is, you know), Instagram are not about to remove images from our feeds, but rather show them to us in a different order. You’ll get the photos Instagram think you most want to see first, so you don’t miss them, with everything else down at the bottom of your feed where you’re less likely to see them if you’ve not opened the app for a few hours.
I spend my life trying to get rid of countless notifications off my phone. I hate the constant beeps and buzzes and especially the little red dot with a number in the corner of my app icons. I have all notifications for Facebook switched off (so liberating, try it), and generally speaking only see things when I choose to look rather than when my phone decides to tell me about them. This means I am not going to start turning on post notifications on Instagram, which seems to be what everyone is asking me to do. I did it by accident once, and it was annoying enough with just one user! I wonder how many people who are asking others to switch on notifications realise how many beeps and buzzes they will end up getting and therefore how quickly they will fall out of love with Instagram on their phones?
Rather, if you love Instagram as much as I do and want to keep seeing photographs posted by your favourite people (like me!), there are some very simple steps you can take to make sure that when the algorithm changes – which isn’t going to be today, at least – you are ready.
If you like to see the posts and photographs taken by particular person, using a particular hashtag, or on a particular subject, simply make sure you are interacting with that person/those pictures. Like/favourite/double tap to show you enjoy the image. Comment on the photo with your thoughts, or a question, or just to say you liked it. Share that photograph on your social media feeds (tweet it) to show others you enjoyed it. These things tell the Instagram coding that you enjoyed it and want to see more.
I mean, Instagram is supposed to be a “social” media, after all. The best and only way to make sure it works for you is to use it as a means to interact and engage with others.
Genuinely, don’t worry about turning on post notifications so you’re left with thousands of beeps and buzzes. If you want to, switch them on for your mum’s feed or your favourite celebrity. But don’t do it for every account you follow – you’ll just fall out of love with the app completely. I’m not saying I love the idea of the impending changes, I hate the fact that companies think they can code my thoughts rather than letting me decide, but it’s really not something to panic or worry about.
Social media works best when you use it as a two-way conversation. This is the same on twitter, Facebook and everywhere else. If you like, comment, share, reply, they will all work loads better for you. Don’t just be a lurker, thumbing down your feed taking it all in, actively engage with the people you’re following, have a chat with them, get to know them, and converse about things you enjoy. Social media as a tool for engagement is what it’s all about – and that is sound advice for those of us that use it personally to share snaps of our day to day lives, for bloggers who want to promote their posts and drive traffic to their website, and of course for businesses and organisations who ultimately wish to generate sales or sign ups through sharing things online.
Life is all about the journey. Don’t panic, they are not changing it yet.
PS If you enjoy Instagram but need some inspiration for your photos, make sure you’re taking part in my weekly photo challenge. Head over here for the details – the theme right now is “cross”.