By now, you probably know that changes are coming to Instagram. Last month Instagram made the announcement that they would be implementing algorithms. Posts will no longer show up strictly based on chronological order. This has caused quite the commotion among small businesses (and publishers, since most of us identify as small business owners!).

We wanted to take a moment to dispel the rumors, highlight the facts, and draw attention to the opportunities that the Instagram changes are bringing.

The Rumors (and Facts)

1. Rumor: The changes are rolling out right now, as early as this week.

Fact: Broad Instagram changes are not happening right now! According to The New York Times, no feed changes are happening right now. They plan to continue testing the new feed for weeks and even months. Instagram reported that they are testing in small markets, but they won’t be rolling out changes across everyone’s accounts for weeks, if not months.

2. Rumor: Instagram will start limiting the posts you see.

Fact: Instagram has actually already been limiting the posts you see. You are limited to seeing 150 posts in your timeline at one time, and it’s always been that way. For example, if you follow 500 people and they all post at once, you would only see 150 photos. So this new change essentially reorders the 150 photos already in your newsfeed and prioritizes them in a way Instagram thinks you’ll like. Instagram will present posts based on how likely you are to like each post. So, if someone frequently likes and comments on your post, it’s likely that you’ll pop up at the top of their feed.

3. Rumor: Your followers currently see 100% of your posts; the new changes will drastically reduce the posts your followers see.

Fact: Kevin Systrom, the co-founder of Instagram, said: “people miss about 70 percent of the posts in their Instagram feed.” As Instagram is right now, followers usually don’t see every single one of your posts. The chronological order makes it so if a user doesn’t log on for a few days, it’s highly unlikely they will see your posts from previous days. The Instagram changes are being implemented with the goal of making sure users see the best 30 percent possible.

The Opportunities

1. Quality over quantity: You’ll have an opportunity to focus time on creating fewer, more creative posts. Instagram’s changes will promote better, more engaging content. That means you may want to only post the best images with the wittiest captions. Average posts will get pulled down by the algorithm, less likely to be seen. We’ll definitely see more weight on quality posts rather than quantity moving forward.

2. Retain more followers: If only your very best posts are shown, followers may be less likely to unfollow you. For example, instead of followers seeing your posts daily, they’ll see them weekly.Followers probably won’t see every single one of your posts, but that could help you actually retain followers. Followers will see your content, but will see it less frequently (and they’ll only see the best posts) so retention should increase.

3. Increase engagement: These upcoming changes are a great opportunity to increase engagement with your followers. The more engagement you create, the more likely you are to end up at the top of their feed. When a follower likes your photo, return the favor. Respond to every single comment. Ask questions so followers will answer in the comments. As publishers, we may need to refocus and spend more time nurturing our existing followers, rather than just focusing on increasing our following.

4. Better apps: With the rollout of new changes, Instagram is finally granting apps access to their API. The best opportunity here is that we’ll be seeing more apps that integrate directly with Instagram. We should see more apps that post directly to Instagram. (Latergramme is a popular Instagram scheduler, but it doesn’t actually post for you. You still have to log in and post yourself.) These new changes should allow apps to post directly to your account, just like on Facebook or Twitter. Scheduling and importing photos should get a lot easier with these changes. Say hello to saving time and managing your calendar!

5. New social platforms: Eventually brands may move away from Instagram because of the reduced organic reach. This will open up opportunities for us to look at new social media platforms to engage with followers. Social Soup CEO Sharyn Smith predicts small businesses may move towards Snapchat. Several tech blogs are calling Snapchat the social platform of 2016. Periscope is gaining a lot of popularity as well. As publishers, we can invest in different avenues to connect with readers.

The Big Picture

These Instagram changes are all about creating a better user experience. They want to reward good content. As publishers, we’re in the business of providing good content! With these changes, you’ll have to be creative to get in front of people. But this provides us with great opportunities to prioritize the best posts and increase engagement!

When it comes to social media, change is inevitable.  We live in a “pay to play” world and these social media sites want to monetize once they get big enough. Whenever you’re using a free social media site, things will change. It’s important to remember that we don’t own our insta-followers. Instagram does. And (just like us) Instagram is trying to make their incredible service profitable.

What do you think about the upcoming Instagram changes? Let us know in the comments below!

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