One year after Instagram abandoned the chronological feed, we look at the repercussions of the app’s new algorithm. https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/fashion/is-instagram-s-popularity-declining-with-new-algorithm-1.613834
Have you seen my latest post? No? That’s because Instagram sucks now.”
These were the words shared by Dubai fashion blogger Zahra Khalil on Instagram Stories a couple of weeks ago. Many share the same sentiment, unhappy with Instagram’s latest algorithm update and yearning for simpler days, when visibility wasn’t something you had to pay or strategise for.
Instagram launched in 2010, giving users a platform to share images (and, since 2013, videos), and has evolved significantly over the years. Its original version was chronological. If a user followed 1,000 other users, all of the posts created by those 1,000 people would appear in their feed in the order that they were posted – from the most recent to the oldest. With this model, the user had the option to easily access all of the posts from other users that they followed.
No longer is this the case. Last summer, Instagram started rolling out its new algorithm, and said in an announcement: “To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most. 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.”
In effect, this meant that a computerised algorithm would be deciding what kind of content an Instagram user should see. While the change was marketed as a positive one, it has left many users disgruntled, and bloggers and start-up businesses facing serious repercussions. Many have worked for years to gain a large numbers of followers, in the ten to hundreds of thousands and more, only to have their posts disappear from their followers’ feeds because of the app’s new format.
Dubai-based boutique Boom & Mellow was well-established before Instagram came along, but since the launch of the app, has used it to post images of new products and drive traffic to the store. But the boutique’s owner, Sima Barazi Haroun, has found that she needs to re-strategise in order to maintain a standing on social media.
“We’re really hoping that the algorithm changes don’t affect our sales, but there is an indication that they may,” says Haroun. “The point of Instagram was to scroll through the main menu to view pictures in the time order they were posted. So now with the new algorithm, if we don’t show up as clients scroll through their feed, it will really affect us.”
Regular users aren’t thrilled about the update either. Sports enthusiasts who used to check Instagram for updates on scores may now see the results of a game from two days ago at the top of their feed. If all of your friends attended a party that you weren’t invited to, a photo they were tagged in could remain at the top of your feed for hours – even though, since then, hundreds of other photos and videos will have been posted by users you follow.