How the Instagram Changes Will Affect Your Following and What to Do

So today I absent-mindedly updated Instagram as I often do when prompted on the App Store (NOT, I generally ignore it until I have about 100 updates due…). So, the one time I actually update something and I immediately regret it because a) boy does that little circle take forever to go around and b) when I (finally) logged back into Instagram I realised that by upgrading I’d also enabled the dreaded changes we’ve all been hearing about… Oh. Em. Gee.

Cue a home feed filled with people I didn’t even know I followed and some that I definitely don’t follow – yes there are sponsored posts galore in the new update. But don’t fear! I’m here to give you the lowdown on the new changes – the good, the bad and the ugly and to tell you what you can do to combat a drop in followers or a hopeless home feed.

A Helpful Hint
First, let me just say that I am no mug. I know that I tend to write (or ramble if you’re watching one of my YouTube videos) wayyy more than is required of me (what can I say? I like to inform people). I also know that no sane person has the time or energy to read this entire long-ass post in one go (even I wouldn’t. Imagine proof reading this shit! There is a reason all of my posts are littered with typos. Even this disclaimer is ridiculously long…). But, as I’ve said, it’s important to me to share as much information as I can. I am physically incapable of not being as helpful as possible. Therefore, to spare you (and me because I fear that no one will ever read a post of mine again haha), I have included headings and sub headings to break up this oh-so-informative post. I encourage, no, I implore you to use them to find the particular information you are after. Okay, let’s begin…

The Change – What On Earth Are You Talking About?
In case you’re thinking, ‘what on EARTH is this change she is banging on about?’ FYI it was recently announced that Instagram would be changing the algorithm (fancy techie word for set of calculations) that is uses to determine which posts show up in our home feeds. Until now, posts have appeared in chronological order, that is, posts by everyone you follow show up your feed in the order that they are posted, regardless of who posted them. All well and good you might think. Well, the peeps over at Instagram disagree. They feel that too many posts that we’d want to see get missed this way as most people don’t scroll further than the last few hours’ worth of posts, so it’s kind of pot luck as to whose posts you see.

Instead, Instagram has proposed that they will change this rule. Now posts will show in your home feed according to which posts Instagram thinks you want you see the most, much like with your Facebook news feed. Btw Instagram is owned by Facebook – funny that, huh? Anyway, Instagram hasn’t divulged the exact algorithm (calculations) they’re using to decide who shows up in your feed (they never do those pesky platform people). However, it’s widely suspected that, like with Pinterest and Twitter, posts which generally get more interaction (likes and comments) show up the most followed by posts from profiles which you have interacted with before, ones other people you follow have liked and, finally, posts with keywords and hashtags similar to those on posts you’ve liked before.

The Pros
The benefits of this change will be that, just as Instagram intends, you should get to see more of a cross-section of posts. That means that, if you only ever go on Instagram in your lunch break at 12pm for example, you can now hope to see more posts from people you follow who live across the globe and are always tucked up in bed at that time and less of your bestie’s Pret a Manger lunches – yay! If you’re an average Joe Instagram user then, as is the intention by Instagram, you should also generally see more posts of the things you ‘like’ the most e.g. if you tend to like a lot of posts of #flatlays and #flowers, one would expect that Instagram will now show you posts of these over beer pong and Battlefield – because as much as you love your brother, he needs to get over that obsession.

The Cons
The fact that the algorithm will undoubtedly favour posts which start to gain a lot of likes, pushing them out to more and more news feed as they gain popularity, means that the threat of our feeds becoming clogged with images of North West and Taylor Swift is very real indeed. ‘Okay, so just unfollow them’, you say. The problem is that I don’t want to never hear from them. I just don’t want to hear from them every single time I open Instagram.

Similarly, posts from people with fewer followers and from those who you follow but perhaps don’t interact with as much, may all but disappear from our home feed altogether. Or, at the very least, more way, wayyy down the page to those merky depths we never quite seem to scroll to. Remember those people from school you know you’re still Facebook friends with yet their updates never show up in your Facebook news feed? It’s because you didn’t like or comment on their updates enough so Facebook decided that you just didn’t care about them. The same is likely to happen to people who you follow on Instagram but don’t interact with. Sad times.

As I’ve already witnessed, sponsored posts will also undoubtedly become more of a ‘thing’ now (does anyone else ignore those on principle?). The ironic fact is that, as is the trend with social media, as the big wigs get promoted and pushed to the top of our feeds, it’s the little people who suffer and are penalised. The likely truth is that, in order for smaller profiles with fewer followers to be seen, paid advertising i.e. paying Instagram to show our posts to more people, will become an even more key method of building a following and interaction on Instagram. This can be costly and sometimes not all that effective without a tailored advertising strategy, something most people just don’t know how to do. There are some things you can do though…

Don’t Panic – What to Do About Your Home Feed Changing

Turn on Notifications (Or not. Probably not…). 
First thing’s first, you may have seen some of the many posts recently from people urging you to ‘turn them on’ (some funny, some painfully boring). No, these people are not in desperate need of amorous assistance. They are in fact asking you to press the three little dots to the top right of one of their posts and opt to turn on notifications. This will then prompt your phone to alert you each time that said person posts to Instagram, hopefully meaning that you’ll never miss one of their posts.

Now let’s address the elephant in the room. Most of us just don’t want to be alerted every time our favourite bloggers post. It’s not that we don’t like them. Heck, who doesn’t love a monochromatic image of perfectly placed Givenchy bag or seeing a sun-kissed, skinny statuesque figure doing yoga on the beach in Bali during my 9am commute through the centre of hell London? It’s just that there are so many people I like on Instagram, if I start turning on notifications for them all my phone would be dead within the hour. Not because it will have lost its battery but because I’ll have thrown it from the roof of my office building. Screw you yoga girl.

So yes, I’m right there with you. The only reason I created the above image was a) because I needed a photo to illustrate this post and it seemed eye catching and appropriate and b) I was being creatively self indulgent (and childish) and couldn’t resist the idea of writing something in shower gel foam – especially if that thing was a hilarious play on words (yes I am the type of person who laughs at my own jokes. Hard. ‘Til I cry in fact.)

Actually ‘Like’ the Posts That You Like
So, rather than break a perfectly good iPhone (because damn those things are expensive) I suggest that you play Instagram at its own game and trick it into showing you the types of posts that you really want to see. Ever noticed how, when on YouTube, if you click on one person’s video your homepage then assumes that you want to watch everything they’ve ever uploaded? (Like, no YouTube, I was a victim of the click bait title and will never watch that person again. Ever). Well, it’s probable that the Instagram home feed will work in the same way.

If you notice someone is missing from your home feed go in and give a few of their images a like or even a comment. Not only will it get your feed looking how you want as Instagram will assume that you looove them and want to see more, but it’s also a nice way of repaying all of those people whose posts you have admired for so long but perhaps forgotten to interact with (don’t deny it, if you had they would still be all up in your feed. Don’t worry it’s cool, we’re all guilty of selfish scrolling from time to time…).

And Ignore the Ones You Don’t
Similarly, if certain types of posts start appearing in your Instagram feed that you’re not feeling too much, don’t interact with them. Perhaps, you can appreciate some posts but find there are just too many appearing at once. Even if you do like these, don’t ‘like’ them or comment on them as often because, chances are, Instagram will read this as meaning that you want to see more posts like these.

Cross Your Fingers
I’ve also heard rumours that Instagram could implement an option switch where you can choose to revert to chronological viewing. So far I can find no such option on my feed or settings (sad face) but this is supposed to be a trial so perhaps, if enough people make a fuss about the new change, Instagram will implement this in the final version – here’s to hoping!

What To Do About Your Instagram Following Falling

Ask People To Turn On Your Notifications (Or Not. Probably Not…)
Okay, so back to that elephant. Regardless of your pride, you may find that a shameless ‘turn on my notifications’ plea does indeed work for you. Perhaps someone out there just can’t live without a daily shot of your morning coffee. Good for you. No really, good for you, I’m note sure that anyone who follows me would care enough to turn on my notifications!

The Golden Oldies
Failing that, this is where your tenets of social media networking will really come into play. Post great content. Interact. Spread the work. Okay, so this seems obvious and is not what you wanted to read (and, to be honest, I’m writing this on the assumption that pretty much everyone will skip over this point) but the importance of keeping your page alive and kicking cannot be overlooked, now more than ever. You’ll need to revert back to all those things that you should have been doing anyway (but probably slacked on since, let’s face it, social media is a 24/7 job – I should know).

1. Post More Often 
Posting regularly (at least once a day if you want to get serious) will not only help new people to find you (use hashtags people) but it will also, now more than ever, increase your chances of showing up in your existing followers’ feeds which will increase the chances of them liking or commenting on a photo of yours which will increase the chances of what? You guessed it – reaching more new people. Ah the circle of social media.

2. Interact More
Interact with as many people as possible by commenting on and liking the posts in your home feed and searching through hashtags to do the same on new people’s posts. Don’t forget to go through your followers list and dish out a few likes and comments there too. This will come in handy for subtly reminding your old uni dorm mates that you are very much still alive and active on Instagram and should get them to come and have a look at your page (because no one can resist a good Instagram stalk session). All of these steps in fact will encourage people to come back to your page to do the same. This should mean that you once again appear at the top of your followers’ feeds and perhaps pick up a few new ones along the way. The increased activity on your page should also tell Instagram that you’re well-liked giving you higher priority in hashtag searches and the ‘people you should follow’ box – woop woop!

P.S. Remember all the while that whichever posts you interact with, the new rules means Instagram will most likely show more of these in your news feed. This shouldn’t matter too much though. Chances are, the people who will like your posts will also post the same sort of things as you so you shouldn’t mind having them pop up in your home feed.

3. Spread the Word
Spread the word about your Instagram account wherever you can. Friends, family, followers on all other platforms. Just in case you’ve dropped out of some followers’ home feeds, take the time to regularly remind them of your existence on Instagram elsewhere. Nudge your sister, text your best friend and for goodness sake make sure that all of your posts are being automatically pushed to Twitter and Facebook. Remind everyone how fabulous your and your feed are and give them a sneak peek at the posts that they might be missing now that the pesky peeps at Instagram have interfered. All you need is a few likes here and there from each person and it won’t be long before you and your morning coffee are at the top of your followers’ feeds where you belong.

That’s All For Now!
Those are the top things that I can think of (and all I’m willing to share right now because, let’s face it, this post is bordering on dissertation length). Please do excuse me if any of the information I have shared here is incorrect. I’ve tried to research this topic as best I can but, given that it’s pretty fresh, a lot of what’s expected is just speculation. I’ve just given my best advice as a Social Media Consultant and will be more than happy to update this post as and when I get new information regarding the change!

If you have any additional/contradictory tips or just general thoughts on the Instagram changes, pretty please do let us know in the comments section as I’m sure that we could all benefit from them. Until next time!

Oh, and if you’d like to follow little old me on Instagram, my page is here or you can find me at @missjadefraser (same name on Twitter!).

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x Jade Mercedes Fraser x