Different types of Instagram feed – what they are & what to do about them
10 January 2022
closeup photo over the shoulder of a blonde female small business owner as she looks at Instagram on a smartphone

If you want to protect against the impact of the latest Instagram feed changes as a small business owner doing marketing on social media, this post is for YOU!
Hopefully, you’re ready to get marketing your small business more efficiently on social media in 2022, so take note.
** EDIT TO ADD – These feed types are all still current across all territories in summer 2024! **

This week, Mosseri (he’s head boss at Instagram, btw) announced how Instagram is beginning to roll out 3 different options for the way your feed is displayed.
The feed? That’s the scrollable display of posts from accounts that you follow. (There are also some adverts and suggested posts that pop up in your feed, too– it’s not purely accounts you follow.)
Changes are all well and good; feed changes give us more flexibility to customise our social media, more control, better teen safeguarding… that’s all great.
What I’m extra-interested in is how customers and clients will behave – and what that means for us, as business owners. What the feed changes will mean for how you’ll market your brand.

Think… How will the different types of Instagram feed affect the way your audience will consume YOUR content, whether they still see your posts? How will YOU adapt to the new feeds, to stay productive with the way you’re doing marketing?

Instagram is letting us all choose. So, in this blog, I’ll discuss:
– the different choices of Instagram feed types
– what they each look like and don’t look like so you can distinguish between them,
– how your audience and potential customers will choose between them, and of course,…
– how their choices can impact YOU to create better marketing posts, for them to see and engage with.

Different Instagram feed types… Option A: the ‘Home’ feed

This change isn’t a big one. Essentially, it’s what we have now, with a tweak. What we have had since 2016.

Instagram shows posts in your feed based on how important it thinks they are to you. It ranks them in a kind of pecking order, so it filters out the stuff that it thinks isn’t going to float your boat. It prioritises the posts that it thinks will be most important to you.
(It does know a LOT about you, after all!)

It also means, the way YOUR posts are ranked compared with every other account, every business that competes for a customer’s attention.
The tweak in this Instagram feed type is that there’ll be more undiscovered content. More suggestions of new stuff that a user doesn’t already follow/ never looked for before. Still based on rank, though. And this is definitely already happening; it’s a trend.

This ranking process is at the heart of how the Instagram algorithm works. (The “algorithm” is the word for the magic formula calculations that filter and categorise content to prioritise how/what order/for how long that content appears in any given user’s feed. The algorithm works to decide how it should show your posts, in relation to every other single post out there.)

The way Instagram sorts the wheat from the chaff, and does those calculations?
Precise specifics are top secret, but we do know a good basic foundation about factors it uses – and those basics are what I hope YOU are already making the most of, so that your posts rank more highly in your audiences’ feeds.
If you’re not yet on track with getting the algorithm to work in your favour, let me remind you that my Instagram trainings and workshops cover exactly this.
So you’ll learn what not to waste your time on. You can help the algorithm to filter your posts higher up! Click here & email me to find out more. No obligation.

OK, so, how will this first of the different Instagram feed types affect YOU – specifically, affect what you post?

  1. It’ll most likely be shifting to include a lot more posts from people that you/ your customer isn’t already following. The ranking process will also be ranking other, similar types of content (ie watching out for lookalikes). So that’s good news if you need to be discovered by people. I can see it becoming more like the Explore page or the Reels feed are right now, with loads of new ‘serving suggestions’.
    But hey, we already have some FANTASTIC discovery tools on IG already, don’t we? The best one is Reels. If having new people find you is top of your agenda, then I sincerely hope you’re already all over the Reels game. (And definitely not relying on hashtags because I’m afraid they are waaaaay less relevant for how newbies find you. But that’s another story.)
  2. If your content is already really impressive and mind-blowingly valuable for your customers, such that they ALL see it and ALL engage…
Every. Single. Time…  well, you’ve got zero problem.
If not, then you could definitely benefit from changing how you currently post. To capitalise on better rank.

Different Instagram feed types… Option B: the ‘Following’ feed

This one’ll mean going back to the pre-2016 days of a chronological feed. Or I should probably say, reverse chronological, ie newest first. But there’ll be no ranking process, so if posts are new, they’ll be there. If not, they won’t. (I’m guessing older than a day or two = too old.)
Let me tell you now, I predict the bots and spammers are going to be all over this like a rash. Posting, posting, posting… just to flood the feed with brand new content.
Because posts that are a load of rubbish will still get pushed out in this type of feed, bombarding potential customers. And reeeeally annoying everyone in the process.
Such that most people will get very cheesed off, pretty darned quick.

What this one means for you…

  1. Fundamentally, your marketing efforts will be a LOT more reliant on you being already followed, not being discovered by fresh eyes. As well as the actual content being consistently HOT stuff on a lot more regular basis. (Goodbye just doing a couple of posts a week, I can see that the quantity game will have to be stepped up big time. Already, businesses who post high volume – at least every day, if not more – have a head start on this. Which comes to point 2…
  2. If right now, you’re constantly (and I mean constantly) putting out really good content, which your customer is wild about seeing, then that’s great, they’ll get to interact with it as usual. No change; keep up the good work, keep raking in the sales. (Of course, let’s remember that “really good” is very subjective!!! We all think our own stuff is good but does your customer? 😬)
    If you’re not really consistent in quantity AND quality, then they’ll fast get bored with it getting in the way of the stuff they do want, so will probably unfollow you. People using this feed will be a lot less tolerant, I think, simply because of the way it will be overloaded with rubbish.
  3. (Which is CRAZY-RIDICULOUSLY beyond your control, sorry):
you’ve got to keep everything crossed that this feed is not overly full of auto-posting spammers, which drown out your posts.

And, Different Instagram feed types… Option C: the ‘Favourites’ feed

This one is a change for 2022 as it will let us allocate certain accounts that we want to prioritise more. It’s a way of helping IG’s algorithm to work out the important stuff with more certainty.
Customers will choose which accounts will be ‘dead certs’ in their feed – but it’s not going to be all of them. Instagram still needs to know what matter more than others, so this’ll probably mean we get to provide a limited ticklist of our literal faves.
Those posts from fave accounts will be shown first. The rest, much lower down.

What to do about this one, from a business perspective?

  1. You will need to be more purposeful about being on people’s Favourites list, if you have any chance to compete. Again, your posts and videos will need to be consistently great quality in your customer’s eyes, so that they won’t want to miss a single thing. And your preferred Call To Action will likely be: ‘Add me to your Favourites list’.
    (My tip: the people who watch your Stories right now, and the people you have super-strong DM relationships with, who message you often… *they* are going to be the ones you start with, to convince them that you belong on their Faves list 😉 )
  2. Your content strategy is probably still going to need TLC, so they don’t unfavourite you; competition will be crazy-high for being on the faves list of people who prefer this type of feed.

Phew. Got all that?! 😝

It’ll be very interesting to see how people change behaviour around their Instagram feeds and from there, the way/s that you as a brand owner can adapt, to put out your posts and videos in more effective ways. To be more sure of showing up in front of customers.
So many questions are starting to spin…

What feed will you choose?
Isn’t competing hard enough already in the algorithm?
What can you do to maintain good rank in a shifting ‘Home’ feed?
Will your posts be up to scratch vs that of your competition, in a ‘Favourites’, or a ‘Following’ feed?
Are your posts constantly constant and so amazingly amazing that they’ll stand out from the shouty noise of ‘Following’ spam?
What can you do to be more discoverable by new people who aren’t ‘following’ or ‘favouriting’ you?
… Wow, it’s perhaps starting to feel overwhelming, am I right?

I RECOMMEND THIS ONE THING, TO FIND SOME CLARITY:
Ask yourself, what one small thing (unrelated to the concept of different feeds; just thinking of the simple interaction of ‘you make content-your person reads that content’)… one small thing might you do now, in your next post(s) to step up the way that your ideal customer connects with you?

Yes, I say “now” and mean it… start now so it becomes more of a habit and you’ll’ve got a headstart on the competition. What will you do to adjust your approach to posting and engaging in order to account for your customers changing their feeds?

I run Powerhour trainings & 121 courses on how Instagram’s algorithms works and how customers engage with content (which includes changes to feed types!), so that we can brainstorm your content and your strategic approach.
You leave with the exact takeaways that are right for you in order to start competing in your customer’s feed. To grow your page, to up your engagement and to make sales.
Ruthx

PS. All these changes are already coming into play, rolling into different territories, and expected to be fully launched by July.
UPDATE, 24March2022: the Instagram feed changes are now live in most territories!
UPDATE May 2024: All feed types are still valid and in action!
So let’s get purposeful with your social media; no more posts that don’t get results. You can do it!

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