As you scroll through Instagram, don’t be surprised if you see strangers’ photos on your feed from now on.
We’re all absorbed by our phones, constantly flicking and tapping our way through our friends and families’ lives. With that in mind, reaching the end of your respective scrolls may seem like an impossibility. ‘Social media? Completed it mate.’
However, Instagram is trialling a new feature for those who manage to get through every new photo and video from those they follow: suggested posts.
Until now, your Instagram feed was entirely determined by the people you follow. You could check out recommended posts via the Explore page, but these never intruded on your personal feed.
Going forward, however, suggested posts will appear in your feed once you finish scrolling through posts from accounts you follow. The suggested posts will come from accounts you don’t follow but are related to content you engage with. While they won’t feature IGTV or Reels posts, some adverts will be included.
Julian Gutman, head of product at Instagram Home, offered space content as an example. If you regularly peruse images from the cosmos and follow accounts which focus on space, the suggested posts will reflect those interests, while the Explore page would give a wider view of the subject.
I think for us this really came from a vision a couple years ago around people really seeing feed as a place for their interests, and with the improvement in machine learning and our ability to kind of make it easier for you to see some more of those posts that are on Instagram every day, and really bring that personalised relevance to you.
So we just want to make it really easy for people to see that [relevant content] when they get to the end of their feed. That’s really the motivation here, make it easier for you to go deeper on your interest.
It’s a shift from Instagram’s previous direction, with former CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom citing mental health improvement when first allowing users to reach the end of their feeds.
Back then, Systrom explained that the company was developing ‘tools that will help the Instagram community know more about the time they spent on Instagram’ and that ‘any time should be positive and intentional’.
While unintentional – on paper, at least – the move will see more time being spent in the app, similar to TikTok’s endless stream of content and Twitter’s suggested tweets and topics.