Menlo Park, California – Instagram announced on Tuesday that it will soon test a personalized feed for users based on an algorithm that will smartly order the posts the way it thinks users want to see them. For now, the feed of photo-and-video-sharing service is ordered chronologically: the material gets older the further back users scroll. But the company is now ready to try out another way to present the posts.
The social network will begin testing a feed similar to the one already used by Facebook, its parent company. The strictly reverse chronological order that the service has been using since 2010 will be over when Instagram starts to place posts its algorithm thinks users will most want to see from the accounts they follow toward the top of their feeds, meaning that the service will no longer take into account the time those photos and videos were originally shared.
However, the date of the posts will still be visible. Imagine that your best friend who has just moved to China posted a photo to show what her new life in that country is like, but you were asleep at the moment he or she shared it. Based on your history of interaction with that user, Instagram will make sure you see that picture at the top of your feed next time you open the app.
“On average, people miss about 70 percent of the posts in their Instagram feed,” co-founder and chief executive of Instagram Kevin Systrom said in an interview, as reported by The New York Times. “What this is about is making sure that the 30 percent you see is the best 30 percent possible.”
What if users don’t like the change?
Instagram has over 400 million regular visitors. Feed-based networks are increasingly popular because the simple format helps users better consume the content hosted on those platforms, but the services must be reinvented to keep people coming back and spending more time connected.
Brian Blau, a vice president at Garner, an industry research company, said that users will stick around longer if an algorithm provides them with much more engaging content more often, according to a report by The New York Times.
However, Instagram’s more than 400 million regular visitors are used to the way they view their posts and there is a risk that they end up hating the change because they may prefer getting to decide what is important to them rather than letting an algorithm choose for them.
Facebook users revolted almost immediately after the social network changed its reverse chronological feed in October 2009, for instance. The service faced intense criticism by people who asked to see the service go back to normal. But Instagram promised the change would not be quick and that it would just start the move in a series of small tests with a few user groups before taking a decision whether to release the changes more broadly.
Mike Krieger, Instagram’s co-founder and chief technology officer, affirmed that the company always introduces changes slowly and promised that users will not wake up tomorrow and have a totally different Instagram.
Source: New York Times