Earlier this week I published a post on Life Instyle about the impending changes to Instagram, and wanted to let you know too. Here’s what you need to know!
Last week Instagram released some pretty big news: they’ll be introducing a personalised algorithm that prioritises the content you engage with, instead of presenting your feed in a reverse chronological order. We knew it would happen eventually! Let’s chat about what this means for you and your business.
How does the algorithm work?
That’s the big question! Instagram is owned by Facebook. Facebook have frequently tweaked their own algorithm since it was implemented over two years ago. Facebook is constantly refining the order posts are displayed in the feed so that you get the most relevant, high quality content they think you’ll appreciate, based on your previous interactions with posts, what your friends are posting, who posted the content and a whole bunch of other stuff that sits inside the algorithm black box. (Google also uses an algorithm to make sure that when you do a search, it’s giving you the best results it can based on your previous search history, location, language, similar searches others have done, quality of website content, mobile friendliness and other SEO stuff).
Instagram have said that:
The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.
So instead of presenting content in your feed the way you see it now – with the most recent posts at the top and older posts further down – the algorithm will order the content in a way that it believes will be most engaging for you. So the content that you love the most will be prioritised at the top of the feed and you don’t miss out on seeing the posts you want to see. The idea is that even if you’ve been on a flight with no access to Instagram, or on a digital detox, or at a place or event where you simply can’t access it, when you hop back on, the posts you really want to see most will still be there, ready for you to engage with.
Just to be clear, when the algorithm is rolled out (and it hasn’t been universally yet), posts on your account home page will appear in the order you post them, as they do now. But how your posts are shown in your followers’s feed will no longer be chronologically-based on the real time they were posted.
Why introduce this algorithm?
Instagram commented that ‘people miss on average 70% of their feeds’. Kevin Systom, Instagram co-founder and chief executive, said in an interview, ‘what this is about is making sure that the 30% that you see is the best 30% possible’.
We know Instagram has seen exponential growth over the last few years and now has over 400 million monthly active users. With this growth is a whole lot of new, daily content. It’s understandable that Instagram is trying to find ways to cope with this level of content and ensure that customers are engaging with, and enjoying, the platform. This is their way of personalising Instagram to you and your unique preferences, community and lifestyle.
You know the feeling when you haven’t been on Instagram for a while and feel the need to scroll back to the last post you saw but there’s just so much content that you can’t get through it all. Or the feeling when you go into one of your favourite user’s profile and realise you never saw their last three posts. The hope is that this will stop that from happening and ensure that you always see your favourite posts, no matter the time or day.
What does it mean for you and your business?
1. Quality Content Always
It means that you’ll need to continue to focus on producing and sharing engaging content – the kind of content that inspires likes, comments, regrams and lots of lovely conversation. You want your content to be prioritised by the algorithm and it will only do so if your content is engaging and being engaged with. So, rather than focusing on producing a lot of content, look instead at ensuring that the content you are producing is quality content.
Quality doesn’t mean it has to be a DSLR photoshopped image – you can take great photos on your smart phone and edit them with an app like Snapseed. Here’s a blog post I wrote a while back on how to take better photos on your phone, using some tricks I learned from a photographer friend of mine.
Quality does mean that the post offers something to your followers – does your post inspire, educate or entertain? Does it help your followers get to know who you are, what you believe in and stand for, so they can connect with you, like you and grow to trust you? Do you offer content there that they can’t get anywhere else? And here’s some tips on the kind of content people crave.
2. Ask for Interactions
Engagement will inform the algorithm, so the more interactions there are on your posts, the more likely it will be shown at the top of the feed. So asking people to leave a comment, answer a question or ‘double tap if you love this’ is a strategy that you should try.
It also means that if you’re someone who enjoys certain posts but doesn’t interact with them, you may need to start interacting in order to continue to see them. So if you love a post, don’t just love it from afar. Embrace liking and commenting so that you can keep seeing those posts.
3. Enable Notifications
Ask your followers to turn on notifications for your account. Followers can do this by hitting up the three little dots … in the top right corner of your account home page, and then selecting ‘Turn On Post Notifications’.
4. ABC – Always Be Converting
You own your website, blog and email list. You rent space on social media. And the landlord sets the terms. So a golden rule for growing your business online, is always be converting your social media followers to email subscribers. Ask them to become subscribers, and/or give them an incentive for doing so (such as a promo code, a free download, an ebook, a limited offer). Let them know that newsletter subscribers receive content and offers that are exclusive to subscribers. Pop the subscriber link in your Instagram profile to make it easy for them to sign up.
Once people are on your email list, you’ve built a tangible, valuable asset for your business that you own and control. You can then send them direct messages, without the interference of a landlord.
5. Experiment With Advertising
If you haven’t experimented with Instagram advertising yet, now is the time. Here’s a little post I wrote about that last year.
6. Rising Tide Lifts All Boat – Collaborate
Collaborating with complementary, liked-minded businesses is a way to both grow your Instagram following. Reach out to your community and look at ways to you can offer collaborative promotions (like loop giveaways) and give shoutouts to each other.
7. Reach Out To Influencers
When will it happen?
The algorithm change will take place slowly. It will be tested first on a small percentage of Instagram users and, if successful, will then roll out to all users. So, for now, sit tight and if you’ve started to notice a change already, let me know!
There’s been a little backlash already towards this move so it will be interesting to see whether Instagram receives further negativity and whether it causes users to leave the platform in favour of other apps such as Snapchat.
What are your thoughts on this change? Are you welcoming it with open arms or wishing Instagram would stay the way it is? Shout out below, I’d love to know what you’re thinking.
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