Australian small businesses are calling on Instagram to keep its timeline chronological due to fears an algorithm could negatively impact sales and post impressions.
Numerous SMEs across Australian have shared an online petition asking Instagram to keep showing images in chronological order.
The Change.org petition has been signed by more than 300,000 people.
“We believe an algorithm-based feed will be detrimental to small business owners and artists who use this platform to communicate their products and services,” the petition reads.
“Not to mention the communities that have been built within Instagram. Please listen to our feedback as users of your platform and at least give us the ability to choose how we see our feed.”
Instagram announced the upcoming changes in a blog post earlier this month, saying people, on average, miss about 70% of the posts in their feeds.
The announcement comes after Twitter started experimenting with its own algorithmic timeline.
“This scares the shit out of me,” home decor business Silent Little Whispers wrote on Instagram.
“I’m not sure what to expect, but I’m scared to see what will happen to not only my business but all of us small businesses and the community we have with our amazing customers and followers.”
“Hopefully you’ll still see us somewhere between Taylor Swift in her bikini on some beach and Kim K’s nudes.”
— Instagram (@instagram) March 28, 2016
Instagram attempted to hose down concerns this morning by tweeting out a short message to those who are worried about an algorithmic timeline.
“We’re listening and we assure you nothing is changing with your feed right now,” Instagram tweeted.
“We promise to let you know when changes roll out broadly.”
Scores of businesses have asked their followers to turn on notifications to ensure they see their posts over the past 24 hours. However, other small businesses used the opportunity to make light of the situation.
“We have businesses because of Instagram”
Tanealle Hogan, founder of one-year-old home decor business Silent Little Whispers, told SmartCompany the prospect of an algorithmic timeline is “definitely scary”.
“For myself and a lot of others, we have businesses because of Instagram,” Hogan says.
“We get our followers through Instagram and the majority of our customers as well. Because Facebook is the way it is, I could post something on Facebook and would be lucky to get 100 people seeing my post – and that’s if people share it around.”
Hogan is worried the changes could slash her sales and even make it harder for other peope to start up their own micro-businesses.
“I’m lucky because it’s just something I do from home as I’m a stay-at-home mother and built this just to have something for myself and to help out with the bills and things like that,” Hogan says.
“If Little Whispers stopped, we can’t go away for a weekend because we can’t pay for it. I just paid for my partner’s birthday present with the money I earned.
“My business is just for the little things, but others have to put food on the table.”
Whatever happens, good content is key to reaching more people
Social media expert and author Dionne Lew told SmartCompany small businesses on Instagram will need to wait to see how an algorithmic timeline affects them.
However Lew says one thing is certain, and that is that brands need to have excellent content.
“Competition is going to become hotter and hotter and only the best content will push through,” Lew says.
“SMEs are going to need to focus on making sure they deploy their resources to being on the platforms that matter most to them. If you’re in professional services, that might be LinkedIn, if you’re in retail, that might be Instagram.”
Lew says businesses need to focus on one or two social media channels and creating great content before thinking about asking customers to turn on notifications for their posts.
“I’m concerned about how consumers will react to ‘death by notification’,” she says.