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Instagram Just Became Its Most Relevant For Photographers & They Can’t See It

By Kishore Sawh on March 28th 2016

So today’s the day Instagram rolled out its algorithmic feed, and despite having known of its coming for a while (since it’s been eating column inches the world over), photographers and Instagram users all round seem to be losing their minds.

In case you missed it, in which case I assume you’ve either got one foot in the grave or are taking a social media sabbatical, Instagram just rolled out an algorithmic feed which will make the feed behave much like that of the Facebook newsfeed. Even if you’re so sick of the American political rhetoric, full of playground insults and comb-overs as it is, that you haven’t looked up at it in weeks, you’d likely still know because over the last few hours, even day, those you follow on Instagram have likely been asking you to do them a favor – turn on notifications specifically for them. [For people like Russell James, I will]

A photo posted by Russell James (@nomadrj) on

 

What this will do is alert you to whenever they make a move on the platform, and while that’s actually a great tool, it’s being asked mostly out of fear, and that fear is a bit misplaced. The fear is that Instagram just won’t display the posts produced, and therefore, the audience will shrink, which of course is not what the content producers want, and neither do the consumers. But this isn’t how it works. The new algorithmic feed for Instagram is curating your feed to a certain degree, but it’s not to the degree most people think, and it’s doing it based on your own actions.

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There’s so much information that you just cannot see it all through your feed unless you follow no more than five people, much less in a timely fashion. As it stood before the implementation of the algorithm, you would open up Instagram and see the latest, but since when did the latest suggest that’s what you most care about seeing? It doesn’t. Even Insta’s co-founder Kevin Systrom has said 70% of posts go unseen in any given feed, and the whole point of the algorithm is to make sure the 30% you see is the 30% you really don’t want to miss. Why would this not be a great idea? Imagine if your emails could be sorted like that for you…

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So how’s it going to look? Well, you should be happy to know that Instagram is only going to ‘tailor’ the top half of your feed, so only the first few posts will be curated, and after you take another flick of your thumb things will return to how you’ve known it. How good the quality of the curation will be stands to be seen but given Facebook’s omnipresence, I’m pretty certain this thing is going to know us better than some of our closest friends – kind of like your browsing history.

[REWIND: INSTAGRAM AND THE FUTURE OF EDITORIALS]

This move is also going to help you cull your list because if you’re asked to turn on notifications for someone and you second guess it, it means you’re likely not loving what they’re producing. A lot of people should prepare to have their follower numbers drop and see those numbers drop in others. But if you’re putting out great things, this is the time you want to be on Instagram as a photographer because you’ll know that your following is really choosing to follow you and is interested actively in what you have to say, and if they are, you’ll show up more frequently on their feed than others. This makes Instagram better than ever to bring your message across, to direct your followers to your site or business page, and so on. It’s also a great time to bring people into you Instagram world, and a great way of doing that is through your Facebook communities. Just a thought…

About

Kishore is, among other things, the Editor-In-Chief at SLR Lounge. A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

15 Comments

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  1. Yadira Hdez

    Thank you for this Kishore! … a much-needed clarification!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      No thanks needed. Let us know if we can help clarify anything else for you or anything further you’d like to learn etc. Cheers

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  2. Lee G

    Great information glad to know that it’s only the first few post.

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  3. Lee Hawkins

    This makes me feel better about bothering with Instagram. Facebook seems to be a lost cause these days except for following groups…I prefer chronological presentation, but showing me highlights first makes much more sense than how FB seems to work, so long as they don’t show me stuff twice.

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  4. Justin Haugen

    Was never particularly worried. Proper hashtagging and regular posting are still important for outreach. I’m expecting engagement to increase.

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  5. Dede Vidal

    I started using Instagram about a month ago. Not followed by many, but let’s see what happens ;)

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Dede, leverage your digital networks elsewhere, such as twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook groups like our community is huge

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    • Dede Vidal

      Once I found out that Facebook keeps images on their servers and sell them, I decided to post on Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

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  6. Lauchlan Toal

    Thanks for dispelling some of the rumours around all this. Looks like Instagram might still be a valid tool!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Still? I think so much of the photographic community is so vastly underestimating the value of Instagram, and Snapchat. I just think it’s not something to see overnight success with.

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    • Stephen Jennings

      You should write an article about this Snapchat, I didn’t know photographers were using that like they use IG or FB. Also thanks for easing my paranoia over IG haha

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hey Stephen, I hardly use it, but I can see its appeal and to a particular demographic. It sort of guarantees that your content is consumed a bit more than Insta or Fb, and plays into the fact that the viewers today literally only have seconds for you. I mean I laugh when I see people post videos on FB that aren’ amazing and expect viewers to give them 7,5, or even 3 minutes to watch. with the amount of stimuli and info out there, unless the person arrives at your content as a destination (aka they seek you out) no one has 5 minutes for your content. Period. Again demographics matter here, but… I think Instagram now allowing 1 minutes videos is huge, and photographers need to capitalize on that in a big way.

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  7. Erica Mengouchian

    I wasn’t aware that it would only be the first few photos in the feed showing up as popular/suggested, feeling a lot better about this now! Thank you! :)

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    • Kishore Sawh

      you’re more than welcome Erica. Cheers

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    • Fanta Orange

      It’s not actually true, though. I’m one of the users stuck with the new algorithm and the whole thing is out of order and makes it incredibly difficult to find where you left off in your feed.

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