What Instagram’s chronological feed means for brands and creators

The chronological feed could inspire new tactics from brands, Francis said. “If you play it right [as a brand] you can almost … give people the experience that ‘if you’re not there when it happens, you’re missing out,’” Francis said. For a brand or creator, “what content can you put out that makes people say, ‘I have to follow this brand in real-time,’” Francis said.

Fight for favorites

“There’s competition from creators and pages that are really trying to get followers to add to that 50 slot list,” said Emily Berk, creative manager at Offbeat, a digital media company with about 7 million followers across seven channels on Instagram.

Creators have already been explaining to Instagram fans how to add them to the “favorites” list. The creators are using tutorials to teach fans what to do, Gartner’s Gallihar Boyes said.

It will be tough for brands to get consumers to include them in the high-priority “favorites” feed. “With 50 spots, people will be selective,” Stoeckle said. But if a brand or creator can get into a person’s favorites, that follower is sure to be a strong advocate, Stoeckle said.

“As an agency, we’ll be identifying ways that we can integrate brands and this new favorite mechanism,” Stoeckle said.

More metrics to dissect

“Marketers will now have to juggle and really understand the resulting data from … different feeds to see which one provides more value for different creators,” Abhish Desai, creative director at The Social Standard, wrote in an email. “Does one provide more engagement for certain creators than others? What percentage of a particular creator’s audience prefers the chronological versus the algorithm? Does one feed allow more reach than the other?”

Brands and creators could get a better sense of their most loyal fans, based on whether they get into the favorites section.

It will be interesting to see if Instagram tells creators what percentage of the audience favorites them, Stoeckle said. And brands and creators will have to experiment with different posting times to optimize the chronological feed, Stoeckle said.

Instagram has not explained every detail of how the new feeds and reporting will work. Instagram also did not return a request for comment for this story.

Of course, any impact from the new feeds on Instagram marketing hinges on whether consumers use them. “The goal of any algorithm change is to increase time on app,” Ryan Detert, CEO of Influential, an influencer marketing firm, wrote in an email. “If this doesn’t produce that effect, it won’t be available for long.”

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