Consumers and marketers alike are in an uproar over Instagram’s recent announcement about its move away from the chronological news feed. This, of course, comes on the heels of Twitter’s recent new timeline feature announcement. The buzz caused by Instagram’s announcement is reminiscent of Facebook’s 2011 revamped news feed.
Instagram has become a victim of its own success. The sheer number of new users has led to an astronomical amount of content shared. Instagram has seen a significant drop in engagement—measured in likes and comments—over the past year as a direct result of becoming a noisier platform, and some worry the app is on the path to becoming unusable. According to recent data from the company, users are missing up to 70% of the content in their feed. In order to counter the noise and clutter, Instagram intends to solve this problem by serving up content based on behaviors and interests.
Currently, Instagram is testing the algorithm-based news feed on a select few users. However, you can expect the timeline to begin prioritizing content deemed relevant to you within the next couple of weeks. Relevance is determined by a user’s past engagement behavior. Not unlike the Facebook news feed, you should start to see more content from friends, family and the significant players in your life.
As a result, brands and marketers are nervous about the decline in organic reach. A spray-and-pray approach to content distribution is likely to be ineffective in driving reach and awareness after this change. Also, hashspamming (abundant use of irrelevant hashtags) in the new era of the engagement algorithms will most likely decrease your likes and comments and kill your engagement scores. You will not be able to trick your way through the algorithm.
Below are a few tips on how marketers can adapt to the new Instagram feed.
- Social media, in general, has become paid media platform. As such, it’s important to invest in equipment and personnel and be able to create better, more visually appealing content.
- Be consistent. Posting and engaging on a regular schedule helps reinforce the idea among prospects that you are well-organized and worthy of their attention. A schedule also allows you to be more nimble in capturing and sharing real-time moments (news, event participation, company culture).
- Decide who you want to be. Like any social media channel, having a defined vision for the platform helps reduce useless content creation and deliver a solid brand message.
- Create better content, not any content. Your challenge is to demonstrate your values rather than claim them. While this is easier than it sounds, the new algorithm should force you rethink your content strategy. What is the value of your products or services to your customers? What problems does your company solve? Which emotions are elicited when someone buys or uses your product or service?
- Share stories, not moments. Our brain are hardwired to understand and remember stories. By adding a narrative to the content you share on Instagram, you’ll increase the likelihood of people making an emotional connection with your brand and foster trust and loyalty.
- Keep track of your ad performance. The new algorithm is not only about prioritizing the content people want to see, it’s also about Instagram’s effort to better monetize the platform. Instagram is in a position to provide marketers with more sophisticated and effective targeting criteria.
- Take advantage of influencer marketing. With the expected drop in organic content reach, the recent popularity of influencer marketing will continue to grow. By identifying and working with influencers who share the same values as your business, you’ll be able to reach new audiences and supplement your own content creation efforts.
As the Instagram news feed is expected to change within the next couple of weeks, now is the time to revisit and reshape your Instagram strategy.