Instagram’s New Monetization Push

Yesterday Instagram announced a change to the way posts are displayed marking a move away from a chronological user experience to one that is algorithm based. If you’re a user of the platform, you start to see what Instagram deems important to you first, rather than seeing what was posted most recently. Instagram’s stated justification was that their users miss an average of 70% of posts from people that they follow (I’d attribute that to the folks following thousands of accounts, but that’s neither here nor there). Predictably, the reaction of the masses was not positive; no one wanted their Instagram timelines changed.facebook instagram ownership
Personally, I couldn’t care less what Instagram does with timelines. Sure, it’d be nice to apply the adage “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” in this situation. However, it’s their platform which they let people use for free, which brings me to what I think this change is really about. There are three social platforms that are juggernauts of visual content marketing; Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram (owned by Facebook). Each provides marketers with an incredibly large audience that they can reach through the power of visuals. By harnessing high quality visuals, businesses can drive demand for their products in very engaging ways. Up to now, Instagram has allowed businesses to do this for free. As long as these businesses have followers, their content gets seen.
I think that frustrates Instagram’s leadership. It’s clear to me that Instagram intends on burying organic marketing content in favor of moving its’ businesses members to a paid model. By sunsetting a chronologically based display of post, Instagram can incentivize (read: force) business accounts to pay for exposure. If you recall, Facebook has been doing this for some time. If you want your page posts to be seen, you’d need to augment those posts with paid placement. Up until now, Instagram hasn’t made any mention of monetizing more aspects of its business user base, but rest assured that this model is coming. The only question in my mind now is, how soon?

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