When it rains, it pours. I haven’t counted, but there have probably been more updates to Instagram this year than all the years combined. The most productive update for me was allowing posts to be edited. That gift came to me as an early Christmas present in 2014. It allowed my perfectionist ways to take a backseat, encouraging me to post and obsess over it later. Last year when Instagram changed the ability to input custom locations it foiled many marketers and anyone hacking the hyperlink system. If a way to add hyperlinks in the post’s text is implemented, it will be a pivotal update. I feel like that’s what most people are optimistically waiting to happen.
Let’s look at some of the changes.
Logo and Design
The logo and design changes are the most obvious and most recent. If you’re a frequent user of the app, you’ll notice the design changes pretty quickly. Other than brands needing to change the icons on material, there isn’t anything as a user that requires your attention. Well, other than forgetting what the new icon looks like. I’ve found myself swiping through my phone screens when I know it’s on the second screen. That’s what happens when it’s been five years since a logo update.
Instagram’s accompanying apps (Layout, Boomerang and Hyperlapse) also received a logo change consistent with the new color scheme and simplistic look. Yes, I’ve had to search for them on occasion on my phone, too.
Following the Facebook model, Instagram users are now able to see the number of views on videos posted. It’s a change that took effect in February. This change empowers users with a hard metric. The Instagram influencers and marketers are the primary beneficiaries of this new feature. Much like Facebook, a view is registered after three seconds, which means if someone is merely scrolling it won’t be counted as a view.
Since Vine started the video craze with 6-second clips, it seems every platform has tried to one-up the other. With Twitter being the corporate parent of Vine, it seized control of posting video on their platform. Instagram users can still post photos and pictures to the platform, but they appear in the feed only as a link. I wouldn’t say it was a deal breaker, but having content in the feed is a plus.
Instagram later responded with 15-second videos and Twitter followed with 30-second videos. Earlier this year, Instagram upped the ante by allowing 60-second videos. I’m not too thrilled about holding down the record button for 60 seconds, but I welcome the new capability. I should mention that Facebook does allow up to 20-minute videos, but that’s another story. I consider anything over 3 minutes to be like a long-form essay.
Along with 45 additional seconds came a throwback feature. For those meticulous Instagram users, they may remember being able to use multiple clips from the iOS camera roll for video. It has returned and with more video length capabilities. It’s a good time for it.
Ever since reading the Instagram post about the upcoming algorithm change, I wondered how users would take to the change. I happen to be very fond of the chronological posts. It affords me the opportunity to know where I left off and I can easily scroll through to catch up. Tweaking the algorithm reminded me that it is Facebook running the show. Using the word Facebook and algorithm in the same sentence will make some cringe.
It seems pedestrian now, but Facebook made the change in 2009. In February, Twitter rolled out an algorithm change. Twitter does allow you to turn it off, which I thank them for. Does personalized algorithm change mean Instagram becoming pay-to-play is looming over us? Only the folks at Instagram know.
As Instagram stated, this was done to improve the experience. Users were not the least bit as welcoming to this update as others. I recall seeing two things once this was announced. Users were boycotting as expected with petitions and hashtags. The hashtag #boycottinstagramalgorithms was gaining traction. The second thing was almost everyone urging me to turn on post notifications for them.
Instead of advising me to turn on post notifications, just create more engaging content. No one wants to hear it, but the algorithm may be a good thing for you depending on how much engagement you get from your followers. The people who care about your content will see it. This is not a reason for you to run away scared. It should make you strategize and become more creative. If you’re already doing that, keep at it.