Instagram’s New Algorithm and Turning on Notifications

Before I dive into my thoughts on Instagram’s latest algorithm update let’s summarize what has happened over the last few weeks.

First Instagram announced that they will be rolling out an update that changes the order in which posts will be seen in your newsfeed. Currently Instagram shows you posts in the order in which they were posted from most recent to oldest. So as you scroll through your feed the photos you see are getting older and older. By older we’re only talking minutes and hours depending on how many people you follow.

With the new update Instagram simply plans to change the order in which posts appear in your feed.

The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”  –Instagram’s blog



What this means for users.

Users will see content they have proven to care about most first. By liking and commenting on posts users are essentially voting for what they want to be at the top of their feeds. I believe this is a positive shift for users. And a positive user experience leads to longer usage and attention.


What this means for marketers and business owners.

Longer usage and attention is exactly what marketers want. When making changes to social platforms it’s typical for decision makers to consider users first, and invested parties later. You can’t maintain a platform if you do not have any users. So while many marketers, business owners, and those who consider themselves “Insta-Famous” are disappointed (to put it lightly), I don’t view this update negatively.


Change happens. Embrace it and move on!

Would you like to be stuck in your 11-year-old body? No.

Were you happy when you started experiencing physical changes? Probably not.

Are you glad they happened now that you’re on the other side as a mature adult? I’ll assume the answer is yes.

You can’t avoid change. You can’t avoid puberty. You can’t stop aging. You can’t change the presidential candidates. And you can’t change how social media platforms evolve.

What you CAN do, is embrace change. Acknowledge what’s happening. Identify how you think you could move forward positively. And make up your mind that you’re not going to complain about it. Because whether you complain or not…the change is STILL going to happen. So move on!


I happen to love change. In fact, I changed businesses 18 times. And I also happen to love my life right now. If I never changed I’d still be hand painting boxer shorts on the shores of Virginia. Thank you change!


Somewhere along the way rumors started surfacing about when this change would be rolling out sending users into a “Turn me on” frenzy.  If you’re an Instagram user you probably saw 50% of your feed filled with similar posts asking their followers to “turn notifications on” with an arrow pointing to the 3 buttons that allow you to do this.



With the bombardment of these requests, some users started to get frustrated causing all kinds of chatter and discussion. So what do I think you should do?


Should YOU turn on Instagram post notifications?

First, think about your favorite Instagram accounts. What brands or people would you never want to miss a post from? It’s likely that you’re already liking and possibly commenting on their posts already. In that case, Instagram is going to show you their posts first anyway. So turning on notifications is not entirely necessary.


If you’re the kind of person that likes notifications then go ahead and turn them on for your favorite accounts. But remember that you could be setting yourself up to receive endless notifications especially if your favorite accounts post frequently.


And remember that you’ll only receive these notifications if you have push notifications from Instagram enabled on your device. That means along with post announcements you’ll also get notified when someone follows you, likes your post, comments on your post, mentions you, or tags you. That’s a #shitton of notifications. And if you’re a busy entrepreneur, you’ll be more productive getting other stuff done instead of checking Instagram notifications all day long.


Should business accounts prompt their followers to turn on post notifications?

By asking your followers to turn on Instagram post notifications you are basically saying “you’re likely not going to engage with my content frequently so make sure you subscribe to get notified whenever I share something even though it’s not one of your favorites.” That’s not quite the message I’m trying to send my followers, nor do I recommend other business owners or marketers try that approach.


I get it. You’re scared of not being seen. But rather than taking what you think is the easy way out, consider how you can improve your account so that more people are likely to engage with your posts and therefore push your content to the top of their feeds once Instagram rolls out these changes.


Take a note from these accounts who actually get what it takes to build a successful account. How can I tell? Because instead of copying everyone else and taking the lazy approach, these brands proved that they win in the areas that make great Instagram accounts great. Creativity. Effort. Native content. Originality. All important factors when trying to make Instagram work.


These accounts created their own original images asking people to turn on notifications instead of stealing another brand’s image. And while I’m not recommending you do that, I know that these brands will win in the end because they just “get it.”


A photo posted by Suja Juice (@lovesuja) on





A photo posted by SAZAN HENDRIX (@sazanhendrix) on


A photo posted by Drybar (@thedrybar) on



Each of these accounts got it right by sticking to their branding, theme, and overall design of their Instagram feed. If you scroll through their accounts none of these photos would stand out, looking like it didn’t belong. And once again, they were ORIGINAL.


Final thoughts.

Instagram has a history of getting it right. You might remember a few changes they’ve made that had the internet celebrating; like adding the ability to share videos, the ability to quickly toggle between your different accounts, or the ability to edit your caption after you shared the post without deleting the whole thing.


Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 1.47.20 PM


They listen closely, something I recommend all business owners take seriously. I have no doubt in my mind that Instagram will continue to adjust, make changes, and improve the platform for users and marketers. Instagram FTW!


If this blog post had you totally confused and you’re interested in learning more about Instagram marketing you can download my free Instagram Strategy Guide here.


Posted in