Instagram To Order Feeds by Relevance Rather than Chronology
Like Twitter, Instagram is moving to reorder the feed of updates its users see from one based on chronology to one based on relevance. The "new experience" will be rolled out over the coming months, according to yesterday's blog post on Instagram.
The move isn't surprising, as Facebook -- which owns Instagram -- has already made numerous algorithmic changes to its News Feed to show users the most relevant updates first. Instagram's announcement also comes on the heels of a similar move last month by Twitter, which has started offering relevance-based feeds as an optional alternative to standard updates in reverse chronological order.
"We're going to test this within the community to make sure we get it right, and some details will be determined during the testing period," Instagram spokesperson Stephanie Noon told us. "We'll share additional details when we launch it more broadly."
Change Will Be Slow and Deliberate
The growing number of photos and videos shared on the site means users now "miss an average 70 percent of their feeds," which means users might often miss the posts they'd be most interested in, according to yesterday's announcement on the Instagram blog.
By putting greater weight on relevance, "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," according to Instagram. "As we begin, we're focusing on optimizing the order -- all the posts will still be there, just in a different order."
"What this is about is making sure that the 30 percent you see is the best 30 percent possible," Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom told The New York Times yesterday, adding that the change would be rolled out "slowly and deliberately," and with the user community's participation. "It's not like people will wake up tomorrow and have a different Instagram," he said.
Some Respond with #RIPInstagram
Facebook, which acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, regularly tweaks the algorithmic ordering of its News Feed based on a variety of factors, including daily user ratings and survey responses. It also ranks News Feed items according to user actions such as likes, clicks, comments and shares.
Before Twitter revealed in February that it would offer relevance-based feeds as an option, rumors had been swirling that the company would impose the change on users without giving them a choice. That led to the #RIPTwitter hashtag trending for awhile as a top trend on the site.
In response to the latest news from Instagram, a similar hashtag -- #RIPInstagram -- is today seeing steady activity on Twitter. Users are also posting mixed responses on the Instagram blog, with comments ranging from likes to "No No No No No. If you insist on doing this, for god’s sake at least allow me to choose to see my feed just the way it is now."
Image Credit: Instagram app for iOS via iTunes.