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Should the social media giants be killing the culture of chronology?

“Most Recent” on Facebook and “Live” on Twitter are the first things I click when I login to my social media accounts, yet my social media perusing habits will soon be changing. The social media gods have decided that instead of listing content chronologically that I should care more about what my friends think is important, instead.

Instagram on the bandwagon

“Most Recent” on Facebook and “Live” on Twitter are the first things I click when I login to my social media accounts, yet my social media perusing habits will soon be changing. The social media gods have decided that instead of listing content chronologically that I should care more about what my friends think is important, instead.

First Facebook, then Twitter, and now it appears Instagram is set to follow suit into the world of the non-chronological timelines. With Instagram poised to become the next big opportunity for advertising on social media, surpassing Facebook and Twitter, it’s natural that they’d be looking to monetize their popularity as much as possible.

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Maybe this is something we want…

In theory, a fancy algorithm that selects which stories, posts, or in Instagram’s case, photos, that are most interesting to me should be useful, and welcomed. Based on the likes of my friends, and the past interactions I’ve had on Instagram, the algorithm weeds out the posts I most likely don’t want to see. I have to admit, there is some reasoning to it – if I never like a business’ or individual’s photos then why would I want to see them? Why not just remove that distraction from my feed?

When I followed that business, I really did want to follow them

The problem is by curating my feed into something you think I want Instagram is actually removing exactly what I liked best about the platform – the ability to see a variety of different photos, all the time. When Facebook started relying on the formula to determine what was most valuable to me, it began filtering things that were indeed very valuable to me.

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When I “like” or “follow” a business it’s because I want to see updates, photos, and specials that those businesses offer. When I “friend” someone I know, it’s because I am interested in the updates and photos they share. Instead of automatically removing the things that are suspected to be “uninteresting”, instead let me decide what I do and don’t want to see.

Don’t remove, add more options

I would encourage social media platforms to provide more filtering options, including an all-everything chronological option, as there are times when I want to see everything just as there are times when an overview, or “best of” snapshot would be best. By providing these options for filtering it puts me in control of the content I consume and I enjoy the ability to decide what I see. While this algorithm based, non-chronological filtering is touted as something that we should want, as something meant to give us exactly what we want to see and filter out the noise, it’s actually a guise.

All about that money

In reality, this new formula is a ploy to force the hand of businesses to spend more and more and more money on social media advertising if they want to ensure their content is being seen. As a businessperson, I can’t say I blame them, as the reasoning is genius. With 88.2% of Americans reporting having a social media account, the advertising dollars are there for the taking.

Yet, as someone who has worked in small business for over 10 years, I think this strategy is detrimental to growing businesses with small budgets. While social media has historically been the perfect platform for growing small businesses, algorithms that are influenced by money will ultimately squeeze out the little guys.

Keep it real, yo

So, from a moral, small-business focused standpoint and from a consumer annoyance standpoint I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Instagram doesn’t travel the exact path as Facebook. I’m sure I’m not the only one that hopes to maintain more control over the content I receive and push out without the need to buy the attention of my customers, or be infiltrated with purchased content that isn’t relevant. Although, I have to admit, a few less post-workout pictures, wouldn’t be terrible, either.

#Chronology

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Written By

Megan Noel, a veteran ex-educator with a PhD in Early Childhood Education, enjoys researching life through the eyes of her two young children, while writing about her family’s adventures on IndywithKids.com. With a nearly a decade in small business and marketing, this freelance writer spends most evenings pouring over new ideas and writing articles, while indulging in good food and better wine.

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