…but does it matter?
As they indicated earlier this year, Instagram has just (re) introduced a chronological feed for folks to use when viewing their timeline. There are actually now two Instagram chronological feed options. Let’s see what they’ve done, and then some thoughts on the future.
Instagram Chronological Feed Options
The option to change your feed view is found by clicking in the upper left from the main Instagram screen. Here’s what that looks like on my phone:
Here’s what each of them means:
- Home is the algorithmic-based default main Instagram feed. In today’s announcement post, Instagram describes this as:
- Following is the chronological view that many of us once knew when we originally started with the service. Posts only from folks you follow, in reverse chronological order (newest first). In my limited testing today, I am not seeing advertising in this feed. More on that below.
- Favorites is a new view, where you can identify up to 50 of your favorite accounts to place into a special feed that is also shown in reverse chronological order. Instagram notes that “favorite” accounts will also be prioritized in the Home feed, and noted with a star.
…a mix of photos and videos from people you follow, suggested posts, and more. Over time, we’re going to add more recommendations to your feed based on your interests…
I appreciate that they’re being upfront about how they’re going to start adding more unsolicited items into the main feed.
In my initial testing, although Instagram preserves your timeline selection if you quickly return to the app, my timeline is defaulting back to Home when the application restarts. Twitter has recently caught a lot of heat for similar functionality within its service, and I expect the same frustration will be headed Instagram’s way as well.
There has been a vocal contingent of folks clamoring for a chronological feed, not just on Instagram, but on Twitter and other services where that was the original situation. These folks should be satisfied, at least for now.
While the chronological feeds don’t contain any advertising right now, there’s no guarantee that won’t change in the future. Instagram is an advertising-driven business, and if they aren’t showing ads, they aren’t making money. The default view continues to feature sponsored content, and if a significant portion of the users were to switch to a non-advertisement view, I wouldn’t be surprised if Instagram were to introduce sponsored posts into the chronological feeds.
That said, as it currently sits, this feature is fairly hidden within the app. Folks aren’t likely to discover it on accident, and although there are some loud voices wishing for the chronological feed, I suspect that by the numbers, most folks will continue to use the default “Home” timeline with sponsored content. If my initial testing holds out, even if you switch your timeline to chronological, Instagram is going to change it back to “Home.”
For photographers looking to enjoy photography, this is a minor enhancement but doesn’t change the fact that Instagram is explicitly moving to video and shopping and has said it’s no longer a photo-sharing service. At the beginning of this week, I shared with folks on Instagram that I’m focusing my mobile photo-sharing energy through Glass, and the Instagram feed changes aren’t going to shift my plans. I quit Facebook over three years ago, and have no love for the company.
If the Instagram timeline changes make the experience better for you, by all means, embrace them. It’s still the same underlying service, without a focus on photographers.