When Facebook acquired Instagram back in 2014, many were skeptical that they could monetize the photo-sharing app while retaining its hyper-engaged, valuable Millennial audience.

Today, with over 200,000 advertisers and an estimated revenue of $573 million, one can confidently say Facebook made the right call and has made the channel enormously popular with marketers.

Instagram’s rapid growth has made feed curation a necessity.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise when Instagram announced in March that it would refine its reverse-chronological feed structure and instead orient the feed to ”to show the moments we believe [users] will care about the most,” according to Instagram.

This decision was based on the platform’s enormous growth. During the tail end of 2015, Instagram announced it had more than 400 million monthly users.  More users means more content for users to scroll through. Because of this growth, Instagram users now miss 70% of the posts on their feeds, on average.

By changing how users see posts and closely mirroring the functionality of Facebook’s News Feed, Instagram hopes to surface more of the posts that individual users want to see.

What does this mean for marketers?

Up until now, marketers could use organic posts and paid ads to reach their audiences. While paid ads had certain advantages—links embedded directly in a post, call-to-action (CTA) buttons, and the potential for organic reach—marketers could get about the same amount of voice with organic posts compared to ads.

However, with this switch, most organic posts are less likely to be featured within the feed. Instagram will work to prioritize posts from your favorite users. For a marketer, this should be seen as a clear directive that pay-to-play (ads) will triumph over organic posts on Instagram. This is similar to the evolution of paid content on Facebook over the last few years.

How can I prepare for Instagram’s feed change?

As paid ads become more important, now is the time to test, learn, and iterate. Instagram is incredibly new; both marketers and Instagram users are learning what gets engagement. Some recommendations:

  • See which ad types work best for you: carousel ads are a great option for storytelling, while single-image units get straight to the point and might grab your customer’s attention faster.
  • Test your captions and CTAs; stick with the copy that gets the most clicks and conversions.
  • Try running Instagram campaigns that operate as an extension of your Facebook efforts.

By testing now, you can see what works, amplify your wins, and cut your losses early.
The changes in Instagram’s feed put the social media giant in line with a broader movement among social media platforms towards curated social feeds and pay-to-play marketing models. While these changes will require a pivot in advertisers’ strategies, the effort will be well worth it with such an engaged, captive audience.