Social media companies are making huge changes that impact what you see on your news feed. Instagram is following Twitter’s (TWTR) lead, scrapping chronological posts for an algorithmic filter to show you posts it thinks you will care about the most.
Now, Instagram and Twitter are not the first social media sites to implement this change. Instagram’s parent company, Facebook (FB), first applied an algorithm to its feed in 2009. So why are social media networks implementing this change now?
“It’s the needle in the haystack problem,” said Jim Anderson, CEO of SocialFlow. “As the social networks become more popular, there’s more and more content and you, as a consumer, still have a fixed amount of attention. If you have 500 or 5,000 posts in your feed, how are you going to pick out what’s most important to you?”
SocialFlow is a software firm that helps manage social media campaigns. The company analyzes user behavior in order to optimize social media posts based on real-time data.
According to Instagram, users on average miss 70% of the photos and videos posted. Still, not all users have responded positively to the changes. More than 200,000 people have signed an online petition to “Keep Instagram Chronological.”
We as humans don’t like the idea of someone else deciding what we’re going to see,” said Anderson. “There’s a strong negative reaction from a group of people who feel passionate about it and don’t like the fact that they’re losing control of their feed.”
Although some users are unhappy, Anderson says research shows that an algorithmic feed delivers a much better user experience.
“An algorithm can look at your behavior and see the types of content you’ve interacted with in the past, whether it’s the people whose content you like the most or the types of content,” said Anderson. “It’s a symptom of success. As more people join and post more content, it’s inevitable. If you don’t do it, then all of the users will be at the mercy of what happened recently.”