- Instagram, the Facebook-owned image-sharing app with 800 million users worldwide, added a "Recommended for You" feature that shows people posts they might be interested in, according to TechCrunch. Image feeds now show these suggested insertions based on posts that have been liked by other accounts a user follows, per a blog post by the company.
- Previous versions of Instagram provided recommendations in the "Search and Explore" section of the app, which is marked with a magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the screen. This change will let users discover content from their wider network, not just posts from people they follow and ads.
- Users can temporarily hide these suggested posts, which aren't meant to displace content that people choose to see. The posts appear after users have viewed all the new posts in their feed, an Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Instagram's latest "Recommended for You" feature comes as Facebook seeks more ways to make money from the image-sharing app by growing its audience and keeping people glued to their feeds and on the platform. As with all social networks and messaging apps that experience the "network effect," Instagram's value grows with the number of people who use the service to communicate with others.
This new feature comes just weeks after another update that also aimed to broaden users' access to content beyond what's being posted to those accounts they explicitly follow. Instagram also started letting people follow hashtags, like Twitter's feature that helps users see all the posts about a particular topic or current trend. With these updates, marketers could use the discovery tool to reach targeted audiences and communities who have shown interest in similar content.
The risk for Instagram is that users will turn away from an app whose simple, uncluttered interface made photo-sharing easy on smartphones and their smaller screens. Some users have been irked by the idea that an algorithm is choosing what they see on the app, and have expressed their displeasure on social platforms like Twitter, as TechCrunch pointed out. Instagram has developed a user etiquette and culture, with some users creating additional "finsta" accounts that are reserved for more private groups of friends and followers, not the broader public. Facebook has to be careful not to disrupt the user experience as it adds new features, but the company has worked through several changes to its interface in the past that users have learned to adopt.
Over the years, Instagram has added several features in what appears to be an attempt to beat back competition from Snapchat, an especially popular social app with U.S. teens. Instagram has added features that Snapchat first popularized, including a Stories section that lets users string together several images and videos in a single post and 3-D face filters to decorate selfies, among other features. Earlier this month, Instagram starting testing a separate app called Direct to handle messaging, similar to Facebook's move several years ago to make Messenger a separate app.