• Emily Malone

The ‘Instagram Algorithm Apocalypse’ is upon us

The Facebook-owned number one photo sharing app will now show you photos it reckons you want to see first, rather than chronologically. Hm, that’s not very instant is it, Instagram?

Since it’s growth spurt from a teeny little startup app five years’ ago, businesses have started using Instagram more and more to add a personal touch to their marketing. In fact, Instagram (IG) reached the 150 million user mark in half the time it took Twitter. It makes you wonder: why fix what clearly isn’t broken?

But the real question is, how will this new algorithm affect user experience (UX)?

Photographer Jasmine Star has looked into how it will affect IG’s UX, and explains what the changes mean to users and small business owners.

Your IG feed will show images it thinks you want to see based on your behavior patterns (things you Like and/or leave comments on).  Furthermore, your posts will be shown in your followers’ feeds based on how much interaction it’s receiving…the more activity your updates receive, the more likely it’ll be shown in your followers’ feeds.

‘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,’ Instagram said in a blog post. ‘As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.’

So really, posts with lots of comments and likes will be shown first to viewers. And the feeds you spend the most time looking at and liking will continue to appear, while the feeds you scroll past quickly will appear less frequently (if at all).

The best way to kick this setback in the face is to make sure you’re interacting with your favourite posts, so IG can recognise that’s the kind of content you want on your feed.

To keep people seeing your posts, however, you’ll probably need to take a look at what posts gain the most interaction from followers and use that as a starting point to continue getting interactions. Let’s all give a massive collective sigh.


In her blog post, Star suggests analysing your posts from the past three weeks, looking at what days and times they were posted, how many likes they got, and how many followers. Then you’ll need to look at the subject or hashtags you used. The more posts you have like these more successful ones, and the more people interact or like the posts, the more likely the new algorithm will index your posts favourably.


Sure, it still sucks. Many people are arguing that this leaves small businesses who typically get less likes and interactions at a disadvantage:

@sargenthouse: “Facebook companies should begin to care about how much your algorithms are crippling artists from having an equal playing field”
@CaliCre8tive: “I already got the algorithm feed and it keeps showing the same posts over and over. Very bad user experience.”
@TheDanLevy:  “Sometimes I wonder if companies like @instagram do any research into user pref before implementing massive change to UX”

We’ll just have to wait and see how all this pans out for IG, and in the meantime post high quality content, and use hashtags and analytics to help our posts perform better. Don’t go for an overkill, though. Spamming people with irrelevant content and 10,000 hashtags won’t increase your engagement or chances of being lovable. Remember, developing a successful marketing strategy on IG takes creativity, effort and, above all, personality.

Just be cool, guys. We got this.