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– Written by TDC Team – June 26, 2023

TDC Dispatch: The top digital news and insights from June 2023

This month we feature insights on Instagram Algorithm, Google Bard and Google Perspectives, and news consumption trends in 2023, all sourced by TDC's digital team.

The Instagram algorithm explained

Yana Lesyk // Digital Media Intern

Instagram uses a variety of algorithms for each part of the app – Feed, Stories, Explore, Reels, Search – to customise the user experience. The platform also started implementing a feature called “signals” which helps personalise the app by analysing your in-app behaviour.

Feed: is the tailored home page that includes people you follow, content that Instagram thinks you’ll enjoy and ads. The most important signals across Feed are your activity (likes, shares, comments and saves), followed by information about the post (location, popularity); information about the post’s author; and your history of interacting with the person who posted.

*Additional factors are the image or video quality, originality (i.e. whether the post has been already shared on Instagram), watermarks, violations of Instagram’s Community Guidelines and reported content.

Stories: like Feed, when ranking Stories the Instagram algorithm typically prioritizes content from the accounts you interact with the most, rather than the specific content of a story. Viewing history is the most important signal, followed by engagement history and relationships (like friends or family).

Explore is made up of recommendations that Instagram curates for you by analysing your previous activity and ranks the posts based on the predictions of how likely you are to like, save and share. The most important signals Instagram looks at are, information about the post first, followed by your previous Explore activity; your history of interacting with the person you posted; and information about the post.

*By continually sharing engaging content with strong captions, relevant keywords, and niche hashtags, you’re optimizing your posts for Explore page potential.

Reels are designed to help you discover something new but with an emphasis on entertainment.Your activity comes first, followed by your history of interacting with the person who posted; information about the Reel; and information about the Reels’ author.

*You should also avoid posting Instagram Reels that are low-resolution, too blurry, have already been on Instagram, contain borders, or are visibly recycled from another app.

Key Takeaways:

  • Feed, Stories, Explore, Reels have different algorithm to satisfy different needs of the users.
  • Instagram is using “signals” – a feature that helps personalise the user experience by analysing in-app behaviour.
  • Accounts that have been Favourited show up higher in Feed. Use call-to-actions in your posts or in Reels to get followers to Favourite your account.
  • The more people share and save your posts, the more likely you are to reach others.
  • Invest in feed posts and Reels over Stories for growth. Stories are more likely to only be seen by the select few that engage with you the most.
  • Additional factors such as image or video quality, watermarks, originality, strong captions, keywords and niche hashtags can all play a part in how your content performs.

Google Bard: A game-changer in AI integration and the future of SEO

Ellen McConnell // Junior Communication Designer

With Bard’s integration into search results, the development of search takes another momentous leap forward.

Understandably, Google has felt the pressure to expedite its AI integration timeline. The introduction of Bard signifies a significant milestone in the world of SEO, with the full extent of its impact gradually unfolding in the weeks, months, and years to come as AI integration becomes more overt in search results.

One fundamental difference between Bard and ChatGPT lies in their data sources. ChatGPT’s training is limited to a specific dataset until 2021, making it incapable of providing insights on recent trends and developments. In contrast, Bard continuously updates its dataset, leveraging Google’s extensive information resources.

The integration of AI into search results will undoubtedly bring about substantial changes to the realm of SEO. Google’s launch caused a stir within the SEO community when it became evident that AI-generated auto answers lacked attribution. This has sparked concerns about the rise of zero-click result pages, potentially leading to detrimental impacts on click-through rates and organic traffic for websites. Consequently, discussions around Answer Engine Optimization (AEO) versus traditional SEO have gained momentum.
AEO, hailed as the next phase in SEO, is anticipated to play a pivotal role in this shifting landscape. Instead of rendering SEO obsolete, Bard’s introduction may pave the way for a new approach known as Google Bard SEO or AEO.

News consumption in 2023 – Social media has taken over

Yana Lesyk // Digital Media Intern

The Reuters Institute has released its annual review of news consumption trends which includes analysis of news engagement trends and people’s views on algorithmic interference, criticism of media outlets and many more. The 160-page report, conducted in partnership with YouGov, covers responses from around 100K internet users across 52 countries.

To start with, the report shows that social media is now the preferred source for getting news. This is especially pronounced in younger user groups but also varies significantly by region – with users in Asia, Latin America, and Africa more likely to lean on social apps, while Asia-Pacific markets tend to turn to news aggregator sites, like Yahoo.

The data also provides an overview of social media usage habits, including how users are shifting their social media attention over time – Facebook and Instagram are down, while TikTok and WhatsApp are up, although the former social media still remain very popular.

People are more likely to share their thoughts and opinions with smaller trusted groups of people contrary to how it was a few years ago when users didn’t feel the pressure of sharing on social media. Users are shifting to private messaging, thus the growth of WhatsApp, and overall trend to post less resulted in fewer people driving the social media news agenda.

In terms of news consumption specifically, Facebook remains the key driver among social apps, though it has declined significantly in recent years. The report also notes that Twitter usage remains strong since Elon took over, with Twitter users also more likely to be actively engaging with news discussion.

Read the full report here.

Key Takeaways:

  • Social media is now the preferred source for getting news
  • Users are shifting their social media attention – Facebook and Instagram are down, while TikTok and WhatsApp are up
  • People prefer DM’s over public posting
  • Facebook remains the key driver among social apps for news consumption
  • Twitter remains stable despite Elon Musk’s takeover

Google introduces Perspectives

Yana Lesyk // Digital Media Intern

With the exploding amounts of information on the web driven by AI and SEO it’s getting harder to find user-generated content. That’s why Google is introducing “Perspectives” – a new search results tab that shows “other people’s experiences” like Reddit threads, YouTube videos and TikToks.

Different studies show that more and more people, especially Gen Z, are likely to get their news and advice from TikTok and Instagram instead of Google. As people are looking for relatable and trustworthy information sources the more generic search results aren’t satisfying their needs anymore. Thus, Google will try to utilise the tendency to its advantage and give the users what they’re looking for.

Key Takeaways:

  • SEO and AI driven search results are too generic to people’s liking
  • People are looking for more user-generated content in their search results
  • Google Perspectives tab will filter the search results by social content

Contact [email protected] for more information.