Instagram recently announced a new algorithm for its timeline that will change the way users experience the platform. What does this mean for business? It means that much like Facebook, Instagram will move from a chronological photo feed to one that prioritizes content.
Naturally, some brands haven’t taken the news well. A new algorithm means content will be prioritized based on Instagram’s discretion. Brands are legitimately concerned this new algorithm will lead to less brand content reaching consumers and a dip in organic reach will lead to more brands activating paid content to compensate for the loss.
However, it is very likely that Instagram’s new algorithm mirrors Facebook’s, and given that knowledge, there are some best practices that brands can take to ensure their Instagram content stands out from the rest both now and when the new changes take place.
Keep Content Flowing
Instagram’s algorithm is not being planned to punish brands. Its very nature is asking brands to produce high-quality content that, if successful, may reach an even larger demographic of viewers than a traditional chronological timeline.
By producing well-received content, your current fanbase will continue to like, comment, and share your posts—signalling to Instagram that this content is worth sharing at an even higher volume. Ultimately, this ensures that the 30 percent of brand content a consumer does see is the best 30 percent possible.
Take, for example, the Instagram account of Ben and Jerry’s. While the brand is the sole focus of the account, no post is ever the same and the persona is casual, fun, and fresh. Ben and Jerry’s have genuinely funny captions and creative posts that make you want to keep scrolling through their feed. Most importantly, they draw on user-generated content to showcase the strength of their consumer base from around the globe.
Contesting Will Become More Important
One benefit to the new algorithm is that it is likely to increase the success to be had with contests and promotions. Because the new algorithm benefits engaged content, running contests that feature unique hashtags and user-generated content will boost the overall performance of these campaigns. User-generated content also provides a workaround for the algorithm: by having users post brand associated content and reposting that content on your own brand channels you’re exposing that content to two unique streams and increasing the likelihood of being seen.
Advertising Increases ROI
Just like Facebook, Instagram is making this shift so that paid content reaches desired demographics more efficiently. The key thing to remember when designing paid posts campaigns is what the ultimate goal will be. Paid content should direct viewers to optimized campaign pages, where brands can track the engagement of this content and hopefully generate a new customer either through an e-commerce experience or an in-store purchase.
Analyze the Results
Start analyzing your Instagram account now, before the shift occurs. That way, you’ll have definitive metrics behind how the changes impact your reach, and can adjust accordingly. Metrics such as overall follower count and growth, hashtag mentions, and external link redirects can be valuable in understanding follower behavior. Keeping a record of your brand’s Instagram’s performance will highlight the most promising content, which will allow you to post more content of that nature, thereby increasing post performance and likely post visibility in the new Instagram landscape.
Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, Instagram is moving into unknown territory, and yes there will be some bumps along the way. But, just like Facebook before, brands will have to refocus their efforts on Instagram and make a more concentrated effort at showcasing the best content they have to offer. In the long run, the increased effort put into Instagram will only increase consumer interest and engagement, and ultimately create a better experience for everyone involved.