A few weeks back Instagram announced that they are exploring the options to implement Instagram chronological feed so users can see posts from the people they follow in chronological order.
Hence, early this year, the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri shared that the three-feed format is now available for all users, which means from now on every user has a chance to choose between Home, Favorites, and Following feed. However, the official launch is planned to roll out in the first half of this year. Here is the announcement video:
Instagram chronological feed was switched to an algorithmic feed years ago and things didn’t go exactly as planned. Users and relevant institutions reported that the algorithmic feed impacts users mental health and the company immediately respond with chronological feed options
However, in the end, it doesn’t matter if the reason behind this was making users wish come true, the legal consequences, or simply just Instagram being afraid of the popularity of TikTok over the past years, it’s still a win-win situation since every user can now choose the feed they prefer.
What is Instagram’s chronological order?
When Instagram launched back in 2010, the home page was a single stream of photos in chronological order, similar to other social media apps like Twitter and Facebook, which means all posts appeared in your feed in the same order they were published.
However, as Instagram enticed more and more users through the years, it became impossible to see all the posts you care about. Therefore, Instagram realized that to improve user experience they had to improve their feed, which in 2016 meant Instagram chronological option will be switched with algorithmic feed, that will give every user a personalized Instagram feed with posts they are interested in.
Since that algorithm change, people have been asking to get chronological feed back on the Instagram app so they are free to choose how they want to use the app, but by now everybody has lost hope that it will ever be back again. Not only is the Instagram chronological feed back, but there are two more types of feeds that will make Instagram please everybody’s preferences.
How can you put your Instagram feed in chronological order?
So, if you are one of those users who thought Instagram chronological feed was the best way to experience the platform, let’s find out how you can get it once it is launched.
To switch to Instagram chronological order you will need to open the app’s home screen on a mobile device, and then click on the Instagram logo. When you do that, a drop-down menu with the three links (Home, Following, and Favorites) will appear. To choose the Instagram chronological order for your feed, you need to select the Following Feed. Again, this feature is in testing and once it’s live you will be able to try it out by yourself.
The three types of Instagram feeds explained
Let’s briefly go through the features of three new options to help you find out which works best for you or your business. Whether your goal is to gain more followers, get more likes and comments to your photos, target a specific audience, or improve overall engagement with your account, being aware of how these options work, will help you create a stronger marketing strategy.
Home is the current Instagram algorithmic feed. However, it’s announced that there may be a few changes in this feed as well. Instagram said that they are looking at the possibility of increasing the number of recommended posts, which some of the world’s social media marketing experts think might become similar to TikTok’s ‘For you’ page.
Following is the Instagram chronological feed we are all hyped about. By choosing this feed you will be able to see content only from the profiles you’re following, in chronological order.
And lastly, the Favorites feed will be a feed where you can manually add your favorite people and see only content from them. This is something like choosing close friends to see your stories, but this time you are choosing a group of people you want to see content from.
Nonetheless, there is one catch. When you are switching to the Following or Favorites feed, Stories are no longer available. To see them you need to switch to the current feed. Still, this might be an error that won’t be a part of the final release later this year, and even if it’s planned to go through this way, we can hope that Instagram will consider the user feedback from this testing period.
The algorithmic vs. Instagram chronological feed
One of the main misconceptions people have about Instagram’s algorithmic feed is ‘The algorithm’. The truth is, Instagram doesn’t have only one algorithm that decides what people do, see, or don’t see on their feed. On the contrary, they’ve developed a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, to personalize your experience so you can make the most of your time on the platform.
How does the algorithmic feed work
We know it’s hard to trust something you don’t understand, so let’s briefly go through how the algorithmic feed works. Instagram has a set of things to rank in the first place, and even though there are a few exceptions like ads, the majority of the content that shows on your feed is shared by the accounts you follow.
Next, when something is published they take all the information known as ‘signals’ they have about that post. These signals include everything from what time a post was shared to whether you’re using a phone or the web to how often you like videos.
Pros & cons of Instagram chronological vs. algorithmic feed
Having an Instagram feed in chronological order means you will be always up to date with the most recent posts. Therefore, by carefully choosing who you follow, not only you will have content that’s meeting your interests, but you will also know the most recent news instead of seeing a popular post that was posted 3 days ago and it’s no longer as relevant as it was the day it was posted.
Nevertheless, one of the downfalls of the Instagram chronological order is people discovering they are following accounts they probably weren’t aware of before, so they might start to unfollow people.
Luckily, having the Favorites feed feature might stop that from happening since if you want to see posts only from specific accounts you can simply choose the Favorites feed instead of using Instagram chronological feed and unfollowing accounts you are not interested in.
Furthermore, the algorithmic feed shows you the content you love at the top, which means the first posts on your feed will be the ones from your best friends, posts with the most engagement, news outlets, etc. Hence, without an algorithm, there is a strong possibility you may miss a lot of that.
However, whether the recent posts you will see will be less enjoyable or more relevant for users, we’ll have to wait and see. Although most of the users were strongly convinced that they prefer Instagram’s chronological order, there is a justified doubt that the reason behind that is only nostalgia and not the fact that the chronological feed works better.
What does this mean for businesses?
One important thing to remember is that the Home feed is not staying the same. As announced by Mosseri, more recommendations will be moved in the Home Feed. Hence, as we already said, the Instagram feed will probably look similar to TikTok feed where you have a For You page that is full of recommended content from accounts you don’t follow, and there the Following Feed where you will only have content from the account you follow in chronological order.
Quality content has more chances to become viral
Furthermore, if the home feed of Instagram becomes more or fully curated based on recommendations, that means more opportunities for businesses to be discovered by new people which means a way better Instagram experience. This means, if you create a quality post that is performing well there will be more chances to organically reach people who don’t follow you yet. This type of feed has already proven to work amazingly for businesses, since last year’s hype because of the many benefits of promoting businesses on TikTok.
And now the tools to go viral have never been more sophisticated. Reels are slowly becoming one of the most popular formats on Instagram, and users thus the algorithm are definitely favoring them.
Dance and music is at the core of Reels and as the reports suggest they are here to stay. According to the Instagrams trends report
“41% of 13-24 year-olds say the’re fandom members. 70% of teens expect to discover new music or artists through social media”Instagram trends report 2022
Followed accounts will get seen
With Instagram’s chronological order being back, users can have more control over their feed, and businesses will no longer rely on Instagram about whether their followers saw their content because, in the end, it will all depend on whether our followers are interested in our content or not.
But, engaging content still might get a lower reach
Unfortunately, if most users prefer the Instagram chronological feed, content with good engagement won’t be able to go viral and reach new accounts as it is possible now, since the posts reach won’t depend on their performance but it depends on when it was posted.
The good side of the news is that even your worst content will get engagement because it’s gonna be pushed normally. Your great content will get more engagement than average, but you will notice a drop-down from where it could have been if people were using the algorithmic feed.
This will be great for businesses who run ads on their account because they can pay and get a predictable amount of reach, but it will still be interesting to see how it will go when it becomes a reality.
4 tactics to get the most out of Instagram chronological feed
To help you easily get on board with Instagram chronological feed, we are giving you 4 immediately implementable tactics. Read them carefully and find out how each of them will help you stay relevant on Instagram.
If people choose to use Instagram chronological feed, over the other two types, that means that the time you post will be much more important than it is now. There are two things to consider when choosing the best time for your posts. The first one is when most of your followers are active on the platform. The second important thing is when your brand is most relevant for them.
Posts with co-shared authorship
Collabs or co-shared posts are one of the latest features on Instagram that lets two users share ownership of a single feed post or Reel. That means that the shared post or real will appear to each user’s followers and will share the same count of likes, shares, and comment threads.
Therefore, Instagram Collabs are a great opportunity to reach new audiences, boost engagement, and more depending on the content and the account you co-share the post. For example, if you are a business that shares a post together with an influencer, you can also claim the benefit of increased sales, etc.
Use Stories to promote your posts
Let’s say you find out that the best time to publish a new post is 6 pm. But since now everybody is focusing on choosing the perfect timing for a new post, it’s most likely that everybody will be posting in the same period. That means your content will be pushed down the feed with every other post that is published after yours. This was one of the main reasons why Instagram switched to the algorithmic feed since 70% of users were missing the content they were interested in.
To make sure your Instagram Stories still reach your followers and will not end up buried, you can wait a couple of hours and then post it in your Story. To spice up this strategy a little more, you can make it more engaging. For example, you can attach a sticker poll and ask your followers whether they saw your new post or not.
This will result in more engagement, but also it will give you insights into whether your post was buried in other posts, or it was simply not engaging enough. Moreover, you will entice people who haven’t seen your post to visit your profile and check it out.
Use Instagram Insights to see what’s working
There’s an old good saying that you can not improve what you don’t measure, and marketers agree with that. It doesn’t matter if you have a business or a creator account, as soon as you are aiming to grow your account, you must be familiar with Instagram Insights and more focused on these numbers.
Instagram gives you detailed analytics of your account. It measures reach, engagement rate, video views, and many more, so to grow, it’s imperative to understand Instagram analytics so you can have a clear vision of which posts are most engaging, which are least liked or shared, how many taps forward or back do your stories get, which day of the week you should post, etc.
All these insights will support you more to understand your audience, what is their interest, what type of content most people engage with and your activity will most probably get its momentum on the Instagram platform.
In the end, if Instagram launched the chronological option as the only option it would probably have more downfalls for businesses and creators, but with the three feed options, it’s going to be a fully improved experience.
That’s because, with the Favorites Feed, creators or brands who already have loyal followers can make sure their content is always seen by the right audience. With the Following Feed in chronological order, people can make sure they won’t miss out on any of the content the accounts they follow are posting.
Last but not least, as more recommended posts will be implemented in the Home Feed, creators and businesses will have a much larger reach and a chance to organically grow their Instagram accounts.
Still, let’s wait and see for the next couple of weeks and we will update this post with the initial findings of the impact of these new features.