I've been on Instagram for eight years, and the only thing that's guaranteed about the platform is that you never know what's coming. Remember when they introduced Instagram stories and we all thought Snapchat was toast? Or when we were finally able to use pictures that weren't square? It's been an exciting journey, but new changes aren't always exactly welcome. I was scrolling through Instagram a few weeks ago and it hit me: My comment feed looked mega weird. Instead of seeing comments from old to new, I was seeing popular comments up top, even on my own profile.
It seemed like a useful idea — I always sort comments by top on Facebook pages to filter out any abusive or offensive content — but I wasn't super happy. Even more confusing: I started noticing comment sections flooded with verified commenters who realized that their comments would be viewable by a large audience, regardless of when they posted. I'll use the below screenshot as an example. Of the six comments below, only one contains actual text, and the rest are essentially verified users gaming their way to the top.
Once I started talking to other users, I realized I wasn't the only one noticing this. I reached out to Instagram for comment for a Bustle story. The story fell through, but the comment is still super valuable! Here's what a spokesperson told me.
So we've confirmed what we already suspected: Instagram comments are now shown algorithmically instead of chronologically. If you're a hater of the algorithm, this may feel like bad news, but I'm not as freaked out as I thought I'd be. Here are my thoughts.
1. It Makes It Easier To Follow Conversations
If you're reading through thousands of comments and only want to read comments that have gotten a lot of engagement, it is kind of annoying to scroll endlessly in hopes that you find what you're looking for. This change makes Instagram threads more like Facebook conversations on fan pages, which is more efficient.
2. Ideally, Relevant Comments Aren't Hidden
As seen in my screenshot above, this isn't always the case. Because people who are Instagram-verified are going to shoot to the top, it's much easier for people who are verified to drop a heart emoji for no real reason. But on accounts without a ton of verified engagement, you'll see the comments that have gotten the most likes and comments and get to skip a lot of the fluff.
3. It Provides An Incentive To Leave A Thoughtful Comment
As I noted above, this isn't always the case because the algorithm is imperfect, but you now have a reason to thoughtfully engage with your followers and the people you follow! It's so easy to just say, "Cute dress!" and move on (and I'm super guilty of it myself) but a comment that has original insight and provides value to the reader, whether it's making them laugh or just spreading positivity, will garner likes and be moved to the top of the comment feed.
Social media changes daily, and it's hard to keep up with everything, especially if you're someone who misses "the old Instagram." But the platform is progressing and growing with or without us, which it's why so important that we pay attention to these changes and figure out how to maximize them.