Social media can be confusing at the best of times – but because each network is constantly evolving it can be hard to get to grips with a productive and lucrative strategy for each platform. Instagram is one example of this – with its easy to use interface and capacity for rapid growth and engagement, it’s long been popular with brands. But a recent algorithm change has stumped even the most seasoned Instagrammers – and some pretty substantial changes in the way we use the network are needed for continued success. Here we share some key points you need to know as a business owner if you want to continue to benefit and profit from Instagram following its latest updates.
Instagram was famed for keeping things simple
Instagram was partially so attractive because of its simplicity. Unlike Facebook, posts were always presented in reverse-chronological order. This was the case for six years – so it gave users over half a decade to familiarise themselves with the network and carve out methods that enabled them to exploit it to their full advantage. Now, the strictly time-influenced feed has been removed in favour of one that actively controls the content you see based on ‘quality’ and ‘relevancy’ – two things dictated by data collected about your behaviour online.
Facebook has influenced a new methodology
Understandably there was a significant backlash to the changes Instagram planned to make. Notably because they mirrored Facebook’s unpopular approach – a newsfeed saturated with often irrelevant or promoted content where updates could be completely missed because they were not deemed to be ‘appropriate’ for the user. These types of algorithms take the choice and control out of users’ hands on both sides, and into the jurisdiction of a computer. Brands on Facebook know how incredibly difficult it can be to generate interest and exposure for posts – so Instagram’s apparent detour down the same route generated understandable concern.
Instagram’s algorithm change wants users to ‘see what matters to them first’
The first thing brands who want to use Instagram to their advantage following the algorithm changes need to know is that quality content matters – but it’s not enough on its own. Many successful bloggers and brands saw a significant drop in engagement following the implementation – which then snowballed because their posts were given reduced priority as a direct result.
Proactive engagement is key here. Whilst your content should be of good quality, that’s no longer enough. You also need to build strong relationships with other users, encouraging them to comment on and like your posts. Reciprocal engagement often drives successful accounts – now more than ever.
One crucial aspect Instagram takes into account when assessing ‘relevant’ posts is engagement. Put simply, the more likes and comments a post has, the more exposure it will receive. Comments are weighted more heavily than likes – simply because it takes much more effort to leave a comment than to tap ‘like’. It’s important to reiterate this point because this is largely what will secure greater exposure and a more successful presence on the network. Quality social media content that focuses on your target market’s interests is the first step. Encouraging engagement is the second.