Guys, it’s happened again: Instagram is testing a new algorithm and it’s completely changed the way we consume content on the app. In their attempt to ‘bring video more front and centre’ on the platform, anyone subject to the test will notice their feeds looking very different. In fact, 'new Instagram layout' is a breakout search term on Google, alongside 'Instagram update' and 'Why has Instagram changed'. So, here's what you need to know..
What is the new Instagram layout update for 2022?
Well, reels take priority on home feeds and both video and photo content have been reformatted to take up more space on the screen. Everything is longer, but for those posts that aren’t formatted to the new 9:16 ratio, a blurred border in background is appearing.
Below, Instagram head Adam Mosseri explains the change himself, stating that video and messaging is important to the future of Instagram and a larger part of the feed will become ‘recommendations, things you might love and haven’t heard of yet.’
Why has Instagram changed?
Well, it’s meant to make the platform more immersive. After TikTok’s success, it’s clear that full-screen, short-form video content is a hit with social media users – now Instagram is attempting to mimic that formula.
While not all users are sold on the potential change, moving to video first will likely make the Instagram algorithm more tailored to users' interests. You know that feeling when it seems like TikTok knows you better than you know yourself? Yeah, that’s because of how we consume short-form video and the data we then hand over to programmers through watching so many.
Nikita Aggarwal, research associate at the Oxford Internet Institute’s Digital Ethics Lab, explained the tech to Grazia earlier this year. ‘[TikTok] look at hundreds of factors in how you respond to videos, including how long you spend viewing it, whether you click “like” or “not interested” and what hashtags you search for,’ she says. ‘The time limit on videos means that we interact with more content, and so TikTok can gather more data than other apps because with each video you watch you are providing tons of feedback.’
So, it makes sense then that Instagram would want to replicate that kind of algorithm, knowing it will ensure users hand over much more feedback about what they do and don’t like on the app. That will in turn inform their recommendations, which as Adam says is crucial to Instagram’s future.
But what do users make of the change? Ultimately, opinions are divided.
‘I really don’t like it,’ says one Instagram user. ‘I think the new format just encourages scrolling and actually discourages engagement on each post, I like seeing people’s comments and likes! The terrible grey blur at the top and bottom of the post kills the actual image to me.'
‘I don’t like it because all the images blur into one and the captions are harder to read,' another agrees. 'Plus, you can’t see a date when things were posted, it just becomes “147 weeks ago”’.
Others, however, are more optimistic. Phoebe Parke, social media expert and Grazia’s Head of Social, believes it will make all our content more engaging.
‘While changes on Instagram are always scary, the goal of the new update is to create a more immersive experience - so for creators it could be good news,’ she says. ‘This means your audience will be encouraged to give each piece of your content their full attention as it will take up more of their screen. Instead of panicking remember this is just a test being rolled out to a few accounts, and you can easily change the dimensions of your posts so they take up more space.’
As Adam stressed in his video, this test is all about Instagram learning from how users respond to the change so good or bad, you can make your feelings about the new update known – and we don’t doubt everyone will be very loud about this one…