For years, we were used to the standard feed system when it comes to the most popular social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The further back you scroll, the older the material gets.
With the growth of social media, the way we get the feeds have also evolved. Facebook changed its news feed in 2009 by switching to an algorithm largely based on the popularity of posts, among other signals. Last month, Twitter introduced older, popular tweets to the top of users’ feeds, out of order, if the user had been away from the service for a time.
This Tuesday, Instagram has also followed suit and has started to test out an algorithm based feed. The photo-sharing service plans to initiate testing an algorithm-based personalized feed for users, similar to one already used by its parent company, Facebook. Instagram will place the posts from the users who they think you follow the most on the top of the screen the next time you open the app.
“On average, people miss about 70 percent of the posts in their Instagram feed,” Kevin Systrom, co-founder and chief executive of Instagram, said in an interview. “What this is about is making sure that the 30 percent you see is the best 30 percent possible.”
Talking of the changes, it does seem more in tune with the way the modern users are perceiving the internet. At the time, the feeds were a revolutionary idea. “Feeds are a powerful way for users to navigate the web and get to the information they need,” Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist and early investor in Twitter, wrote in a personal blog post in 2008. “My kids are growing up with the news feed as their start page. N of Yahoo’s portal approach and not Google’s search box approach.”
“These companies want to always, always give you the next best thing to look at,” said Brian Blau, a vice president at Gartner, an industry research firm. “If an algorithm can give you much more engaging content more frequently, you’ll stick around longer.”