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The Instagram Algorithm – What it All Means

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Instagram announces they hate apple pie, baseball, and Taylor Swift!

That’s not actually true, but you would think it’s true based on the press they’ve been getting. What Instagram actually announced is that they will be switching users’ feeds from a chronological style to an algorithm-based feed.

Chronological vs Algorithm

When Instagram first started the feed users saw was chronological, meaning you would see every picture that everyone you followed posted. The pictures would just post in your feed in chronological order. Simple enough right?

“WRONG!” says Instagram. Now the pictures you see in your feed will be decided by a super-secret algorithm that shows the photos “you care about most.” This shouldn’t come as a huge shock, because Instagram is owned by Facebook, which has been using an algorithm based feed for a long time.

How the Algorithm Works

The exact mechanics of the algorithm are kept under lock and key, but we do know a few general concepts. Basically, the more engaging your post is the more follower will see it. So if your post gets a lot of likes and comments, the algorithm will interpret that post to be interesting to your followers. Thus, the algorithm will show the post to more of your followers.

It also takes into account other pictures your followers like and accounts they follow to decide if they would be interested in your post.

What it Means for Businesses

Personal users have been vocal in their disapproval of the switch. Going so far as to start an online petition to keep things the way they are.

This frustration is understandable, but it’s small business owners who should really be scared. While Instagram claims its intentions are pure and user-focused, any marketer will tell you it’s just a ploy to sell more ads.

When every follower sees every post, why would you spend money on ads?

Now that Instagram is taking away this option away, it forces business (small businesses in particular) to pay for impressions. It sounds shady, and frankly, it kind of is.

I’m Not Mad, I’m Disappointed

The most disappointing part of this whole thing is that Instagram has yet to come up with a clever name for the algorithm. There’s a lot of potential for an all-powerful robot that decides which heavily edited pictures of tacos you get to see.

We propose the name “Sir-Pix-A-lot” because he picks the pics you see in your feed. Get it? Someone needs to start a petition about this.

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