You thought you were done
Instagram is expanding its feed today with the launch of “suggested posts.” These posts, from accounts you don’t follow, will show up after you’ve reached the end of your feed and give you the option to keep scrolling with Instagram’s suggestions. Up until now, the feed has been entirely determined by users’ preferences and the people they follow.
For the past couple of years, Instagram has shown users a message when they reach the end of their feeds, meaning they’ve seen every post over the past two days from people they follow. With suggested posts, they’ll have the option to keep scrolling past that marker for more content. (That message will still be there along with the option to revisit old posts.)
The suggested posts won’t be the same ones that show up in Explore. They’ll be related to the content that people already follow, whereas Explore aims to point people toward adjacent content, says Julian Gutman, head of product at Instagram Home. He used space content, which he follows and engages with on his feed regularly, as an example. A suggested post might be a new space photo from someone he doesn’t follow, whereas his Explore page might contain posts related to physics more broadly.
Gutman declined to comment on how often people actually reach the end of their feeds on a daily basis. There will be ads in suggested posts, and only photos and videos posted to the grid will show up for now, meaning you won’t see teased IGTV or Reels content.
The move feels like a major reversal from Instagram’s stance two years ago on screen time. When it launched the end of feed notification, the company’s former CEO and co-founder, Kevin Systrom, positioned it as a decision made with users’ mental health in mind. He said at the time that the company was working on “tools that will help the Instagram community know more about the time they spent on Instagram,“ adding that “any time should be positive and intentional.” But suggested posts could easily keep people on the app for longer.
Gutman says the product wasn’t designed to keep people glued to their phones.
“I think for us this really came from a vision a couple years ago around people really seeing feed as a place for their interests, and with the improvement in machine learning and our ability to kind of make it easier for you to see some more of those posts that are on Instagram every day, and really bring that personalized relevance to you,” he says. “So we just want to make it really easy for people to see that [relevant content] when they get to the end of their feed. That’s really the motivation here, make it easier for you to go deeper on your interest.”
The suggested posts also feel like Instagram is taking a cue from TikTok, which throws users into a continuous feed of content that never ends. It’s part of what’s made the app so successful. Of course, lengthening the feed also gives Instagram more ad space, allowing it to further monetize. It’s a win-win for Instagram, even if it means users will potentially end up spending more time than ever in the app.