This morning, Instagram announced another big change to their platform: longer video, up to 60 seconds, as opposed to the previously maximum of 15, can now be uploaded to your feed, in efforts to “encourage creativity” in their users. This aid to the creation of creative content may come in handy considering the imminent roll-out of the platform’s recent decision to apply algorithms to the sorting of images, which will take your feed from the comfort of chronology to the unchartered waters of engagement-based curation, with many users outcrying the decision.
There’s a flurry of updates urging followers to turn on notifications for their brand but many businesses are still wondering just how much these changes – creative or otherwise – will impact their social media reach and the use of the platform in future.
This key departure from chronology-based feeds is forcing brands to rethink their creative strategy, as the feed will eventually become sorted solely in terms of “relevance” to users (NB: engagement levels), rather than the latest post to be uploaded.
“The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post,” Instagram explained on their blog when the changes were announced.
Despite critics comparing the change to Facebook’s monetisation, Instagram explained that the reasoning behind this adjustment was a result of the increasing amount of traffic on the site that obscured the ability of users to be able to engage properly with updates that are relevant to them: according to their findings, 70% of our feeds go unseen when the chronological method is in place. A study by agency Optical Cortex confirms a similar scenario: from a sample of over 20,000 Instagram users, it showed that the average number of handles a user follows is 800. In user viewing terms, that means the amount of content you actually see is minimal – and isn’t at all dependent on what you’re interested in when viewing it. A large majority of handles popular with users are also visited deliberately by the user, not interacted with through the mini-feed, therefore already eliminating the need for regular content updates.
While there are notable drawbacks – Instagram can no longer be a place for time-sensitive content that should coincide with a certain timing of a post, for example, as well as the obvious push to begin paying to push content – some argue the change makes little difference to brands with content that’s really worth viewing. That is: the content worth viewing will surface and the content that isn’t worth the click will have to up their game.
Will longer video and algorithm shake-ups mean better content in the long run? Only time will tell.