- Instagram is moving to an algorithm-driven timeline sometime in the near future, and according to a Digiday report, it has already reached out to the ad industry and let agencies know that in order to ensure messaging reaches an audience, they'll need to pivot from a strategy of relying on organic reach to one where they pay for that connection.
- In announcing the change from a chronological timeline to an algorithm-driven model more like its parent company Facebook, Instagram essentially said marketing on the social media platform will likely also shift to Facebook-like paid model with targeted advertising.
- An anonymous ad agency exec told Digiday, “We’ve seen the Instagram pitch to clients twice now in the last month. It is basically the Facebook pitch: Everything should be promoted, and there’s no point in doing organic.”
Social media was once seen as a “free” marketing channel, typified in inbound marketing tactics, where the only cost was time and creative effort in maintaining organic outreach. As a channel it has become very advertising-focused, with an emphasis over paid outreach over organic.
Further, as Digiday noted in its report, since Facebook acquired the company, Instagram has both grown its user count (which is more than 400 million strong currently) and its advertising base (200,000 and counting). It has also tapped into Facebook's ad tech and vast data base, which helped lure advertisers in part. However, since Instagram began allowing ads on the platform, it has kept high standards in terms of quality of ads. The author of the Digiday post notes that more advertisers using Instagram has meant lower-quality ads on Instagram, but that in telling advertisers to use the same creative for both platforms, it might help raise the quality of ads on Facebook.
In any case, the switch to an algorithm-based timeline has caused a bit of a frenzy in the Instagram community.
Looking toward the coming switch to the algorithm timeline on the photo sharing platform, one strategy Instagram influencers and marketers have employed is asking followers to turn on notifications. A major flaw in that strategy was pointed out by the New York Times – by turning on notifications, those followers will get push messages every time anyone or any brand they follow posts something on Instagram. It’s very possible, actually even likely, that those notifications will become very tiresome very quickly.
For marketers, that strategy actually risks eventually creating a negative association with the brand if the notifications are later deemed overly annoying and intrusive.