Mobile photo sharing service Instagram has announced it is going to start ordering users’ feeds in a way that prioritizes the moments it thinks each user will care about the most.

According to Instagram, people on average miss 70 percent of their feeds, and those who follow a lot of users have a particularly hard time keeping up with everything, The new algorithm, which will organize feeds based on relevance instead of reverse chronological order, should help people avoid missing out on important moments.

Users will see their feeds change over the coming months. The algorithm is a work in progress that will be improved and adjusted over time.

In an official blog post, Instagram assured users that all of their posts will still be there – they’ll just be in a different order than they were before.

“If your favorite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in. And when your best friend posts a photo of her new puppy, you won’t miss it.”

Impact on advertising

The app is currently enjoying tremendous popularity, with more than 400 million monthly active users. Instagram is expected to notch up $1.37 billion in ad sales in the US this year and $1.48 billion globally, according to eMarketer. Sales numbers could grow even more if the move process to be a success as users start spending even more time on the platform, thereby providing more chances to serve up ads.

The CEO of real-time social video company Grabyo, Gareth Capon, said: “If Instagram are able to keep users engaged with the platform for a longer period of time by providing them with the optimum content bespoke to them, then advertisers will also be increasingly interested in the platform. Advertising was introduced to Instagram in 2013, with self-serve advertising launched in 2015, and has seen great success with over 200,000 advertisers now using the platform.”

He points out that eMarketer projects that 26.8 million users will be added to Instagram over the next four years – twice the number being projected for Twitter. The new algorithm has the power to maximize that growth.

Instagram is not the only platform to make such a move recently. Facebook’s News Feed is algorithmic, showing users stories based on the things they like, comment on, or skip over. Last month, Twitter started testing out a new timeline that places a block of curated tweets right at the beginning of users’ timelines.

As Instagram continues to grow, the new algorithm should help advertisers find more opportunities to get their message out to the most receptive audience possible.

Tobias Matthews

Tobias Matthews


Writer at Fourth Source.