It’s no secret that it rubbed many small and medium-sized businesses the wrong way when Facebook changed its business model and implemented boosted posts. Having a system of boosted, or purchased, posts virtually forces businesses to pay money to in order to ensure that their content is shown in their subscriber’s news feeds. The move caused many business owners to look to other social networks, like Instagram, to continue building their audience for free.
Well, if some currently unused code in Instagram’s latest software is any indication, it appears that the golden days for businesses on Instagram may be coming to a close as well. As referenced recently in Adweek, Eliot Miller, head of innovation at Social Chain, decompiled Instagram’s latest code and found some breadcrumbs that point to the direction the social network is heading. Miller wrote about his discovery in depth in a post to Medium, in which he points to four currently unutilized variables: can_boost_post, can_see_organic_insights, can_convert_to_business, and show_insights_terms as proof of the intention to bring boosted posts to Instagram.
While all four variables are notable, that first one is the dagger that businesses have thought might be coming, despite no official announcement from Instagram. The variable, can_boost_post, sounds pretty self-explanatory and would seem to indicate that Instagram is adding the code into its network to get ready for an implementation of Facebook-like boosted posts for businesses. This is exactly the sort of thing that many users predicted back when Instagram first announced that it was phasing out chronologic feeds in favor of algorithmic feeds.
From the perspective of regular users, this means that businesses you follow on Instagram will likely have to spend money in order to show up in your feed regularly. The network essentially creates a bidding war with whatever company that is willing to pay the most ending up in a prime spot in your feed.
Now, it’s totally possible that Instagram’s boosted posts functionality will work differently, or be an easier pill for businesses to swallow than Facebook’s was, but given how much crossover there already is between Instagram and Facebook’s Ad Network, it would be logical to conclude that the boosted posts will probably work similarly – if not identically.
It needs to be said that none of this has been officially announced by Instagram, so plans could change, or did change and these variables will mean nothing. The signs, however, indicate that it’s coming — we just don’t know when and in what form yet.
We reached out to Instagram for comment but received no response. If appropriate, we will update the post should they respond.