Co-authored by Jana Kopp
There’s always been a certain purity to Instagram. Since its inception in 2010, the social media platform’s simplicity was a tremendous allure to users. A consistent stream of photos in precise reverse chronological order was a draw that accumulated over 400 million active Instagrammers in a mere six years.
Simplicity isn’t always sustainable, especially when accommodating for growth. Instagram’s surge in popularity has resulted in an incredible amount of content – so much content, in fact, that users can no longer keep up with every post they follow. In March, Instagram announced that users only see 30% of photos and videos in their feed.
To address this, Instagram has begun to implement an algorithm that will reorder your feed in order to “see the moments you care about first.” This means sorting your feed to prioritize displaying photos based on your relationship to a user, the likelihood that you’ll be interested in their content, and the timeliness of their post.
Brands, influencers, and users alike have been up in arms. Influencers are pleading for their followers to turn on notifications for each of their posts; users have signed online petitions demanding that Instagram revoke this change.
So, what are the potential consequences for this new algorithm? Let’s explore:
Facebook did it first – what can we learn?
This change on Instagram is still fairly recent. So, as marketers, we don’t have enough data to say how this will affect our organic reach. But we do have history.
Once upon a time, if your brand had amassed 20,000 likes on Facebook, your organic content was reaching all 20,000 of those users. Then, Facebook implemented an incremental algorithm change, decreasing visibility for many brands that were suddenly pushed to the bottom of newsfeeds.
By 2012, Facebook announced that only 16% of organic content from brands was actually reaching followers. In the last year, organic reach has decreased to an average of 6% and as low as 1% in many cases.
Their solution? Sponsored posts.
As such, the landscape of Facebook today often demands a pay-to-play strategy. As Instagram begins releasing similar algorithm practices, marketers should be ready to invest in ads on this platform if this is a priority channel for reaching their audience.
So what should you do about your Instagram channel?
As a business, it’s now up to you to ensure that your content strategy is effective, that your brand story is cohesive, and that you’re responding to your followers. Create a two-way-ever-engaging community – mediocrity is no longer an option on social media.
Here are a few ways you can earn engagement from your followers:
- Post about a topic and then ask your followers for input. With this rollout, Instagram will be placing more emphasis on the worth of comments than likes. Take advantage of this now while your organic reach is potentially higher, so your fans will already be in the practice of engaging with your posts.
- Include CTAs in every post. This will encourage your followers to engage. When they do engage, encourage ongoing comments by writing back.
- Review your analytics and uncover patterns that result in top performing posts. Also, identify lowest performing posts. Apply positive trends to future content.
- Leverage video content. You may have noticed Instagram’s recent emphasis on video. Video length now displays up to 60 seconds. Engagement on video is now measured in “Views” instead of “Likes.” Based on this, it’s safe to say that Instagram is acknowledging the importance of video content and it may help to increase your ranking within your followers’ feeds.
Learn from other Instagram changes
- Instagram has unveiled new business profiles. These profiles allow for in-app analytics and the ability to promote well-performing posts (similar to Facebook’s paid boosted post feature). Business profiles also include customizable “contact” buttons and access to maps/directions, making it easier for users to connect directly to brands from the platform. These profiles are free and a simple way to gain exposure and legitimize your brand. Make note, however: currently, only businesses that already have a verified Facebook business page are eligible for the Instagram business upgrade.
- Even more recently, Instagram added Instagram Stories, a daily posting feature in which users can share photo or video moments throughout their day. Like Snapchat, Instagram Stories expire after 24-hours and are tapped through chronologically. Currently, Instagram Stories are the only surefire way to guarantee a spot at the top of newsfeeds. Take advantage! Posting to Instagram Stories will not only remind your followers of your brand’s presence but is also an intimate way to foster personal engagement.*
Does this mean you should post more often?
Not necessarily. Publishing several Instagram posts each day won’t do you any good if nobody is engaging with your content. At Mambo Media, we always recommend emphasizing quality over quantity.
Still not sure how to work with these changes? Drop us a line.