Instagram has been trialling a new feature that could allow users to rearrange photos or videos, giving them more freedom to choose which posts people see first when viewing their profile, regardless of when it was posted.
This would be an interesting addition, considering the platform has traditionally only allowed users to post to their profile grid in chronological order.
In similar fashion, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, has discussed the potential to introduce a pinned posts feature, attracting some internet discussion. This would allow Instagram users to ‘pin’ posts at the top of their profile. Other social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Tik Tok, have already introduced this feature, which is particularly useful for brands or creators who want to highlight content they believe will garner the greatest engagement from their audiences.
Being able to completely rearrange your posts takes this idea of pinned posts one step further, giving Instagram users increased flexibility to customise their profiles.
If the company decides to implement this feature, it will be interesting to see how it will affect the way brands utilise the platform. Given Instagram has announced it is focused on content creators and teens, the challenge will be how to mould a corporate brand and business into the platform’s evolving model.
For example, it would be beneficial for marketing purposes, as the move would allow brands to more accurately highlight their latest campaign or product. Additionally, Forbes’ Paul Monckton noted that this update would “facilitate more creative uses of the grid such as sorting posts by colour scheme or arranging individual posts into larger ‘mosaic’-style pictures”.
While the feature hasn’t been officially announced, Mosseri has discussed another potential change that would allow users to change how they view their main Instagram feed.
His official video announcement on Twitter stated: “We’re starting to test the ability to switch between three different views on your home screen (two of which would give you the option to see posts in chronological order): Home, Favorites and Following.”
In the video, Mosseri discussed the reason for this feed change, noting that it is important that “people feel good about the time that they spend in the app, and I think giving people ways to shape Instagram into what’s best for them is one of the best ways to pursue that goal”.
The return of the chronological feed garnered a lot of attention, as the algorithmic-based feed received a lot of backlash when it was originally introduced in 2016.
While the algorithm aims to show you posts based on what you engage with the most, users found that their feeds often failed to show them posts from accounts they follow. It also meant that newer content would get lost within the algorithm, with older content remaining at the top of feeds. This was particularly detrimental for creators, as they had no control over where their posts would appear in their follower’s feeds.
The potential reintroduction of the option to view posts in chronological order might give creators greater visibility, increase engagement with their audiences, and allow them to grow their reach.
Additionally, displaying posts in chronological order could help reduce the dissemination of misinformation and AI bias. Facebook informant Frances Haugen weighed in on this matter, stating: “I’m a strong proponent of chronological ranking, or ordering by time with a little bit of spam demotion, because I think we don’t want computers deciding what we focus on.”
Taking a closer look at the three proposed feed sorting options, it appears that the ‘Home’ option is the current AI-based feed, which decides what posts you see and in what order. The ‘Favourites’ option will show posts from Instagram accounts that you have identified as a favourite, while the ‘Following’ setting will show posts from accounts you follow, in chronological order.
Besides this major feed change, Instagram has stated it will be focusing on video, messaging, transparency and creators in 2022. Considering the rise in popularity of Tik Tok, it comes as no surprise that Instagram would target its video content, namely ‘Reels’, on the platform. Recall that in 2021 Tik Tok overtook Google as the world’s most popular domain – an explosive increase from its No. 7 rank in 2020.
So, what does this mean for the future of Instagram? It seems like the platform will increasingly become more video focused, and with the addition of Reels to the navigation bar, is a clear sign it is heading in that direction. We may see Instagram expand its feed options to include a purely video-based section, or perhaps intertwine Reels with the existing feed options.
However this develops, it will be interesting to see how the customisability of both the Instagram grid and feed is received by users, and how the platform will evolve over the coming year.