Instagram's New Algorithm & How to Adjust Your Marketing
The rules of the game have changed once again. Instagram announced in a blog post last Tuesday (March 15th, 2016) that it will be updating it’s chronological news feed to an algorithmic feed.
Instagram's new algorithm is in effort to show users the content that they may most care about and interact with.
Several brands and business owners may be upset about the change or worried about how this will affect their current Instagram marketing strategies.
The one main fact that is constant, is that everyone is on the same playing field with the same rules.
Larger brands may have larger budgets to invest in paid ads to keep their Instagram game strong, but that isn’t an excuse for smaller businesses to not thrive on Instagram.
At the end of the day, content wins and if you are pumping out awesome content that your users actually care about, then you’ll be on the right track.
So as we move into a new Instagram playing field, here are a few things we should recognize to help us as marketers adjust our Instagram marketing strategies in 2016.
P.S. Once you finish reading this article, you'll notice that these are practices that you should already be executing.
Learn From the Past
Instagram took a step that is very familiar to it’s owner, Facebook. Facebook made a similar change by introducing an algorithm change to their news feed back in the summer of 2015. Facebook already had a news feed algorithm prior, but this update was a significant one.
Business owners and maybe some marketers became worried about how this would affect their businesses, but at the end of the day, everyone worked to figure it out and the same is going to happen with Instagram. If you have experience from Facebook’s news feed change, then you will know this is no different.
The best advice is to move quick, test and stay on the ball, because it’s changes like this that will separate the winners from the rest of the market.
Quality Always Wins
You’ve probably heard it a million times by now - “Content is King”. It’s in situations like this where your content really proves its quality. Good content ties into so many moving pieces of digital marketing and this is why it’s so important.
Good content will not only catch your audience's attention initially, but it will hold their attention and bring them value. Make sure you are posting on Instagram with a purpose to bring value to your business or brand's audience.
With awesome content, you will most likely see the engagement, and with engagement, you can be sure that more users on your feed will then see your post.
Asking Our Followers to Turn On Notifications?
You may see this strategy being executed by your followers on Instagram; asking their followers to turn on notifications for them so that they never miss a post from that particular user. If you are pretty active on Twitter, then you know the typical direct message you receive from some Twitter users, asking to turn on notifications for that user right away.
So the question is, is it worth it?
In my opinion, I don’t think it will do much to your overall engagement on posts. With such a huge push on content marketing, users are surrounded by noise in several markets, so the added asking of “hey, turn on notifications for me” is more of a preference if you want to go down that path.
Does it hurt to ask? I don’t think it will hurt you, especially if done in a single post, but if you are asking as much as Twitter followers and DMing it (direct messaging), then I think at that point it can begin to annoy users, and then with time, will be most likely ignored.
The one thing that is always going to hold true, is the factor that we all have control of - the content. Keep a strong focus on your content really providing your audience value - this will be the winning factor.
This change in Instagram’s algorithm is completely new, so we will see how this plays out as we progress in 2016.
A Paid Instagram Ad Strategy - Why It’s Important
Instagram ads have been available to the public now for a while and if you have not begun to run paid ads on the platform, I highly recommend to do so.
With Instagram’s new algorithm in play, having a paid strategy in place will be even more critical to showing your content to the right users.
I recommend testing different ads and different ad sets and I encourage everyone to really dig to gain an understanding about what exactly is going on in their market, learn exactly what your target audience cares about, and reverse engineer it to deliver them content that they truly want to see.
We are Human
There is a lot of interaction left on the table in my opinion when it comes to social media marketing, and with Instagram it’s no different. Several businesses and brands have the opportunity to engage with their audience to create depth within their relationship, but are lacking in taking the time to do so.
If you are a small business or brand, and are worried about being pushed out by competitors with big budgets, this is one way to get you on the right track. Connect and interact with your prospects and customers, show them that it’s a human on the other end and not just a company.
This is a sure way to develop momentum and stir up engagement, which will most likely be one of the main factors that Instagram’s new algorithm will be taking into account.
If you were freaking out about Instagram’s new algorithm before reading this post, I hope this calmed your nerves a bit.
Just take a deep breathe, it will all be ok!
As a marketer and business builder, I see changes like this as an opportunity to show what we are made of. Everyone has to play on the same field, so the best we can do as business owners and marketers is to accept the challenge, put our heads down and hack it.