Everything You Need to Know About the New Instagram Algorithm

News of a new Instagram algorithm has a lot of people wondering, is the chronological feed coming back?

In case you missed it, on March 22nd, Instagram revealed that they were making a major change to the Instagram algorithm — one that users have been pleading for for years.

According to the announcement, the new Instagram algorithm will display photos and videos in a more chronological order — along with a “New Posts” button to give users more control of when they want to refresh their feeds. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the new Instagram algorithm change, and what it means for you:

From a Chronological Feed to the Instagram Algorithm

When Instagram first announced in 2016 that it was replacing the chronological feed with an algorithm, most people responded with a less-than-joyous reaction.

Scratch that. People were angry.

new instagram algorithm

Instagram hoped that the change would mean people would see more content that was relevant to them. As Instagram grew, it’s became harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share — and an algorithm, they believed, could help organize that content more effectively.

Unfortunately, it also had some undesirable effects.

Whereas a chronological feed requires little-to-no guesswork (all you really have to worry about is posting when your audience is most active), algorithm-based feeds can be influenced by a ton of different factors — like how long people spend viewing your posts or the “genre” or type of content people engage with.

new instagram algorithm

As a result, a lot of businesses saw a big decline in their Instagram engagement — in some cases, as much as 33% less engagement.

And while Instagram has continued to justify the change from chronological to algorithm as a way to show people more content that they’re interested in, some have speculated a more sinister motive — particularly, that it’s a way to force mores businesses to  boost their Instagram posts or run Instagram ads.

So it’s really no wonder why so many people and businesses on Instagram have been clamoring for a return to the old chronological feed.

New Changes to the Instagram Algorithm

It’s fair to say that Instagram’s announcement on Thursday came as a pretty big surprise.

We’ve lived in an algorithmic world for two years now, so the idea of Instagram dialing the algorithm back in favor of more chronological one is certainly a shock.

But what exactly did Instagram change?

Well, the first change is the addition of “New Posts” button that allows users to manually refresh their feeds.

According to the announcement, the button came as a result of users complaining that their feeds would refresh unexpectedly when scrolling.

“We’ve heard it can feel unexpected when your feed refreshes and automatically bumps you to the top. So today we’re testing a “New Posts” button that lets you choose when you want to refresh, rather than it happening automatically,” says Instagram.

This is a relatively smaller change — but it does put an end to a common nuisance and improve user-experience.

The second change is much more important. According to the announcement, the new Instagram algorithm is now going to give more weight to when something is posted, and will prevent old posts from showing high up in your feed.

“Based on your feedback, we’re also making changes to ensure that newer posts are more likely to appear first in feed. With these changes, your feed will feel more fresh, and you won’t miss the moments you care about.”

So does this mean that the chronological feed is back?

No, not exactly.

What Instagram basically did was adjust their current algorithm so that, among other things, very old content doesn’t constantly get bumped up in people’s feeds. It gives priority to newer content.

As we stated above, there are a number of factors that influence the Instagram algorithm, including how much engagement a post gets, how long people spend viewing a post.

With the recent change, Instagram has essentially shifted the importance (or weight) of these factors so that the time that people post has more influence on what appears on your feed.

In other words, the feed is still algorithmic, but when you post to Instagram is more important than before.

What the New Instagram Algorithm Means for You

While the new Instagram algorithm isn’t going to massively change what people see on their feeds, there are a few things businesses should be aware of.

First of all, the time that you post is more important than before.

Prior to the change, it wasn’t uncommon to find older content popping up on your feed. That’s because posts had a longer half-life with the Instagram algorithm.

With a chronological feed, time is the most important factor for what appears on your feed — but with the algorithm, if Instagram finds a post it thinks you’ll really like, it will show it to you even if it’s 3-5 days old.

Since Instagram has pledged to prevent older posts from showing on people’s feeds, that also means that posts now have a shorter half-life.

As a result, businesses will need to be more aware of when their audience is most active on Instagram, so they can optimize their posts to appear at that time.

It also means that businesses may need to post more frequently. Since older posts aren’t going to appear anymore, businesses will need to create fresh content more often so the end up on their followers’ feeds.

So in other words, creating a rock solid content strategy for your Instagram account is very important!

What do you think about the new Instagram algorithm? Love it? Hate it? Let us know in the comments!

Ready to save time with Instagram? Get started for free now!

Written By

Benjamin Chacon

Benjamin is a Content Writer at Later and recent transplant from Toronto. You can follow his day-to-day exploits on Instagram @benjaminchacs.