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Social Media Free Rides Over As Instagram And Twitter Copy Facebook

"Let it go" are words that any parent will have had drummed into their ear over the past couple of years. Turns out this is actually very shrewd social media advice. After Facebook users complained about alterations to their newsfeeds many moons ago, things have gone quiet. But now it's the turn of Instagram users to be up in arms over plans to order timelines according to popularity rather than timing. Users will eventually accept the changes because the real impact is going to be felt by the marketers trying to reach them.

It's actually the same on Twitter. Many users will have logged in recently to see a message that timelines were now going to be organised around popular messages rather than appear live one after the other according to the time they were posted. I, for one, couldn't be more happy about this. The amount of drivel that's out there that a popularity filter will take out, or at least demote, is very welcome. Instagram users should feel the same too.

The Mirror hilariously suggested that fans were concerned that their feeds would be filled by celebs on holiday. It's probably a good time to look at how many followers these celebs have before you determine that they probably are more popular than your friend down the road. It's probably also a good time to remind one another that nothing is more annoying than that friend down the road posting every dinner they have, taking a selfie in every mirror and hashtagging every noun they can possibly think of every time they leave the house and see something that just has to go up on Instagram. The truth is, popularity will help you weed a lot of the nonsense out of your feed.

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So now to the main point. Users will find these changes worthy of a moan or two for a few days until they forget what it was they were upset by and get back to tagging friends who are locking arms and smiling in front of a bar, following by a pic of what everyone had to eat.

The real issue here isn't just popularity, it's the taking away of the automatic right to appear in a chronological timeline. This is going to hit brands on Instagram and Twitter in exactly the same way as when Facebook started tweaking its algorithms. Popularity can be argued to improve the quality of a user's timeline, prioritising those messages and pictures peers have engaged with. However, it can also mean that brands can no longer assume every message will be seen. This will no doubt have the positive impact of making them work harder on producing content which resonates well with peers.

Ultimately, of course, that means not all messages are going to get through and some may need a bit of a promotional push to get some interest. Therein lies the rub. Facebook is doing with Instagram exactly what it has done with itself -- allowed a partial free ride to brands which can be boosted with advertising. Twitter appears to trying to do the same in the background as it tries to turn early hype in to revenue. If posts cannot automatically be seen, it figures more brands will pay to promote.

So, users need to "let it go" and marketers have to accept that just as the free ride on Facebook came to an end, we're about to see the same happen with Instagram and Twitter.

So the next time you hear a social guru talk about the channels as a great way to have a two-way dialogue with customers, do feel free to remind them that it's a chat that is muted unless brands pay to have access to the volume button so they can be heard.

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