Why We Don’t Hate Instagram’s New Timeline

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A social media algorithm Q&A

Recently, Instagram announced an enormous change coming soon to the app’s user experience. Because Facebook (with its newsfeed that operates with one of the most robust, albeit misunderstood, algorithms in the data-sphere) purchased the ever-popular photo-sharing channel in 2011, we social media marketers knew a change from an Instagram timeline that’s curated chronologically to an algorithm-based timeline was fairly inevitable. Still, in true Instagram fashion, they’ll give themselves months to roll out the change properly.

What exactly is an algorithm-based timeline?

Similarly to Facebook’s Top Stories Newsfeed function, the Instagram timeline will no longer show you photos from those you follow in real time. Instead, they’ve developed an algorithm that will determine what posts you’ll want to see most and put those at the top of your Instagram timeline. According to the Instagram blog, the average Instagram user does not look at 70% of their timeline at any given time. This change will help make the 30% of the timeline you DO see more relevant to you and – hopefully – keep you (and your new potential leads) scrolling that much farther.

Who cares about algorithms?

In social media marketing, we know an excessive amount of data is at our fingertips, and algorithms allow us to gain access to it in a much more streamlined way and at a much more reasonable rate of transfer – what we want, when we want it. Isn’t that what the 21st century is all about? Whether we like it or not, we live in THE age of information. Facebook is a ridiculously powerful data collector, revolutionizing traditional systems for gathering information on a daily basis. Instagram has been gathering data since its inception in 2010 but, with this change to the timeline functionality, the app will be able to provide more relevant data to its users in an instant.

Why, then, does everyone compare Facebook to ‘Big Brother’?

Because they want to use Facebook, but they don’t want Facebook to use them back. If you have a Facebook account, you’ve already accepted Terms of Use that lay these realities out in [maybe-not-so] plain English. Same with Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, and every other social media channel you access every day. Every key you press on the keyboard is tracked in some way, shape or form. The magic happens when we, as social media marketers, gain access to the data – in our industry, we’re constantly discovering new ways to use this data in innovative and exciting ways. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!

How can I use this data for my purposes?

At Oneupweb, our finger is constantly on the pulse of the ever-changing digital market, and we’d love to work with you to ensure your business is making best use of the new Instagram timeline from the very start. Instagram is an invaluable tool to consider keeping in your digital marketing arsenal, having recently implemented ads as well as with consistent and thoughtful updates to Instagram for Business. However, we can only recommend your business start using Instagram (or any other social media channel for that matter) by getting to know you better. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

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