Your Instagram Feed May Be Changing – Here’s What You Need To Know
In their latest attempt to steal back market share from Tik Tok, Instagram has started testing a new full-screen, immersive feed. According to Instagram founder Adam Mosseri this is part of the platform’s plan to increasingly make video a larger part of the home feed experience.
Very little has been announced from Instagram about this testing and as of right now we have no indication of how long testing will run, when they expect a rollout to take place, or whether there will be changes to what is being seen by users who are currently in the test. However, we do know that there are not a lot of positive reviews coming in so far.
So while we wait to see what happens next we’ve broken down exactly what is changing and how you might be able to prepare for the update if/when it hits.
What Is Changing?
The primary change is taking place on the home feed. Instead of the traditional scrollable feed with smaller posts (up to 4:5 ratio), under the new update each post sits in a full screen 9:16 ratio (nearly the full size of your screen). Posts that are not sized up are given an automatically generated blurred background to fill up the remainder of the screen.
The top and bottom of the screen have a gradient/shadow effect that allows better visibility of the username and caption. This can lead to part of the image being covered up, like we see in Instagram stories.
Photo Credit: Instagram
Another big change that may affect how we use Instagram is that when a user taps to view your caption, the home feed will behave like reels and expand the caption within a scrollable box. We are seeing reports from those involved in the testing that this change seems to make it harder and even dissuades them from reading any lengthy captions.
So What Should We Do?
So now you’re equipped with knowledge on what changes may be in the works, but how can you prepare for when these changes arrive? We’ve listed our top 6 tips for preparing your content for the new feed layout.
All these changes can be scary for businesses who are used to producing content with the current feed layout in mind. However this is still currently in its testing phase and there is no clear information on how far out the roll out to everyone is.
So while we recommend preparing so you don’t have to play catch up when/if the changes happen, don’t let it take up too much of your mental energy right now.
More Video Content
At its core, this change is reflective of Instagram’s desire to be a video-focused platform to compete with the likes of Tik Tok and YouTube. As a result the algorithm is already strongly pushing video content, and even without this layout change that is only expected to increase.
It is worthwhile starting to invest time and resources into video content creation that will sit alongside your existing content. Start watching TikTok and Instagram Reels and check out what other brands and leaders in your industry are producing at the moment for inspiration.
While creating video content, keep in mind that the focus should be on providing value to the user, not creating technically perfect content. A video shot on an iphone that is engaging and interesting will do better on average than a video shot in 4k that isn’t, and will be cheaper to produce, keep that in mind when planning your content.
Start Preparing For 9:16 Ratio
Most content brands produce for Instagram is in a 1:1 square ratio, or at most a 4:5 ratio, however with this change the content that is going to natively fit best will be 9:16.
Referring back to point 1 you don’t need to panic and change all of your content just yet! But while you are working on your standard content creation it would pay to think of whether that content could easily translate into a 9:16 format to get into the habit. This will mean that when/if the changes roll out globally you will be ready to push out optimized content.
Make Your Carousels Obvious
This will be a particularly big change to keep in mind if you are producing infographic carousel content at the moment. In the current test, users are reporting that it is significantly less obvious to tell the difference between a carousel post and a standard image post.
We recommend including prompts on the image that will encourage users to swipe through e.g. arrows, page numbers. This can be a practice you implement from now if it’s applicable as it has no downside under the current layout.
Keep The Gradient/Shadow Effect In Mind
When this change launches you will need to keep in mind where you place the important information/text in your image. Not including important information at the top and bottom of your image, the same way you do with Instagram stories will be crucial under this new layout, as otherwise it is liable to be hidden by the username or caption.
Once again this is not something you need to put into practice right now, but is something to start considering when producing your content so there isn’t a large learning curve when changes take place.
Prepare To Convey Your Message Without A Lengthy Caption
As mentioned above, there is a good chance that the new layout will result in users being less interested in reading long captions. To counter this, start thinking of ways that you can get your message across in the content itself, rather than using the caption to convert your user.
When/If this change happens it may be worth testing caption strategies to see what users who view your content respond best to.
We don’t know how far away this update is, or whether there will be any changes to the version being tested at the moment. This can be stressful for brands who have fine-tuned their content strategy over the years. However, you can be assured that by staying updated and starting to prepare can help minimize any negative impact and potentially even see some positive impact.
If you’d like to talk through your social media strategy, or have any other questions about how Instagram is changing, get in contact and have a chat with one of our friendly team.