Over the Christmas break Instagram accidentally released an update to its app that forced users to scroll sideways rather than downwards to view their newsfeed. This meant people could only view one post at a time, and that the normal feed appeared more like one giant Instagram Story.
Quite understandably, many people were severely traumatised by this.
Our own Daria noticed it and got to try out the new feature before it was very quickly rolled back to the usual feed. She didn’t approve. The update was apparently launched more widely than Instagram had planned.
Due to a bug, some users saw a change to the way their feed appears today. We quickly fixed the issue and feed is back to normal. We apologize for any confusion.
— Instagram (@instagram) December 27, 2018
The return of the timely post
Social media companies are constantly testing and refining new features with small groups before deciding whether or not to roll them out more widely. This is nothing new.
However, while this news may seem inconsequential, it actually gives us a fascinating insight behind the scenes at Instagram. They are clearly considering the possibility of making their platform more ‘Story-like’. The Stories format is generally used to post about current, day-to-day stories, giving people a more authentic, organic view of what’s happening.
People are beginning to value timely posts over highly curated posts. They want their social media to give them instant, current updates, and not just to serve them the most popular posts. People want to see Christmas posts on Christmas day, or find discount codes before they expire.
Twitter has already been looking at a return to a chronological feed.
Interestingly, most of the replies to Instagram’s ‘bug’ tweet were asking for the option to have a chronological timeline.
Maybe learn from this that introducing “horizontal swiping feeds” isn’t what the mass public who use your app want BUT RATHER chronological timelines? Is it that hard to listen to your audience? #bug #instagramfeedgate pic.twitter.com/Wz4EWkwMDH
— rickym (@wantthedata) December 28, 2018
It’s worth keeping an eye on this and being prepared for a change in the future. If your followers start viewing only the most recent posts, you’ll need to pay more attention to when you post. You’ll also need to consider posting more frequently and sharing more ‘of the moment’ content.
Anyway, for now we’re all back to the known and loved Instagram feed. But we’ve been given a glimpse of the future.
And it may well be sideways.