Instagram’s suggested posts feature turns the end of a user’s feed into a new beginning by showing suggested posts from relevant accounts. Just when you thought you were all done for the day “Look, there it is!”, another to-your-liking post that might just make you linger a tad more on Instagram.
Up until now, users were prompted with the “You’re all caught up” message after scrolling through two-days worth of posts. Now the show goes on! The suggested content incorporate posts from outside the circle of accounts already followed, aiming to help users discover new relevant content. Or, you know, keep them around for longer. “Hey, if you’re already here, might as well check this ad!”
Suggested posts for new beginnings
The suggested posts feature definitely is an unexpected move for Instagram. A couple of years ago, the company’s former CEO and co-founder, Kevin Systrom advocated for reduced screen time. In that context, the decision of limiting Instagram’s feed to content posted in the past two days made sense. The Instagram team declared that they were working on “tools that will help the Instagram community know more about the time they spent on Instagram.“ Their claim was that “any time should be positive and intentional.”
With the launch of the suggested posts feature, the message sent is a bit different. However, the team continues to reinforce the idea that it’s not their intention to keep users engaged for longer times. The official reason is that they want to expand the horizons of users by enabling them to access relevant content they wouldn’t otherwise see.
“I think for us this really came from a vision a couple years ago around people really seeing feed as a place for their interests, and with the improvement in machine learning and our ability to kind of make it easier for you to see some more of those posts that are on Instagram every day, and really bring that personalized relevance to you,”
Julian Gutman, Head of Product, Instagram Home
Suggested posts VS the explore page
While the two features might seem indistinguishable at first, there are some subtle differences. The suggested posts feature aims to connect users with relevant content that closely resembles the one they already follow. On the other hand, the explore tab offers a larger area of adjacent content. It showcases posts, stories and reels from a broader category of interest.
So, prolific scrollers who manage to reach the end of their feed will be greeted by relevant posts (only!) from the same areas of topics they already follow. According to Instagram, the algorithm displays new suggested posts “based on posts from accounts like the ones you follow and posts similar to the ones you like or save.” Curious users who want to expand their areas of interest should, nonetheless, visit the explore tab for more inspiration and diversity.
What does it mean for businesses?
For businesses, the new suggested posts feature is good news, for obvious reasons. No matter the intention behind Instagram’s decision to introduce it, the feature will nonetheless increase the time spent on the platform. That means that businesses will have more time to showcase their ads. While there is no direct action business and social managers can take to hop on the suggested posts wagon, the indirect effect will be beneficial.
So, with no direct involvement possible at the moment, brands can simply rest assured that Instagram is doing their its in prolonging engagement times. Not only that, but it’s also devising new ways to deliver external content to an otherwise closed feed.
What’s in it for the users?
For users who want to spend more time enjoying the content on Instagram, the feature will open new virtual doors. Drawing (once again) inspiration from TikTok’s endless feed, Instagram aims to draw new pathways for engagement. However, the reactions so far haven’t been that favourable. From people raising their eyebrows to people simply dreading the new feature, the spectrum of responses varies on the negative side. There are even countless articles claiming to reveal “How to turn off the new suggested post feature”. Spoiler alert: you can’t. However, you might not even get as far as to consider it a nuisance.
What do you think?
Instagram’s new suggested posts feature goes out to show that some endings are new beginnings. After all, there’s always something new to discover on social media. Whether or not the suggested posts feature will become a hit or will be a major miss remains to be seen. What do you think? Is this new feature something that will pay off in the long run or does it risk to alienate some users? Let us know in the comments below.