Yup. It happened.
Instagram just took the next step to be more like Facebook by establishing a new algorithm that will affect users’ timeline feed.
This update means that your current timeline will be taken out of its current chronological sorting and start showing you a more relevant timeline by showing you the most important moments first.
To quote the Instagram blog:
To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.
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 of September 2015, Instagram had 400 million active users and has continued to grow since then. With a largely millennial and highly engaged user base, the platform was one that many marketers jumped at the chance to grow a following.
But as many of us dreaded, this move on Instagram’s behalf is one that means we need to reevaluate our methods.
So how can you make sure you don’t take a big hit from this update?
I’ve listed a few things to consider as a marketer and why this move may not be as terrible as we all dread.
The Instagram Algorithm Change (2016), and How To Not Freak Out About It
So why did Instagram go for this change? Are they just following big Daddy Facebook’s shoes?
Eh, maybe, but that’s not exactly a bad thing.
Hear me out.
A more relevant timeline is something that a lot of people seem to be against it.
Or, at least, John Mayer is pretty against it. And you know… that counts, right?
Can’t say I entirely disagree with him..
But there’s one thing that this relevant timeline is trying to embrace:
By changing the timeline order to be a more relevant one, Instagram wants to personalize the content so that users see more of what they like.
According to Instagram, the average user misses 70% of their feed.
That includes a large chunk of what you’re posting.
So while this update will very likely impact brands, it might not be the worst thing to happen to Instagram (IG) or to those who use it to sell products or services.
No matter which side you take on this, the fact is IG is getting an update so we have to make changes to our strategies to keep up.
How to Combat Instagram’s Timeline Update
1. Invite Followers to Turn On Notifications from You
You don’t have to be pushy with this, but a simple invitation can help make sure that your current followers don’t lose touch with you.
Something as simple as this can do the trick:
It’s really easy to do and your followers can opt out at any time.
A lot of people are doing this and now that the timeline update has rolled out, this probably isn’t the best thing to do now.
Not to mention, it can be annoying for everyone to see multiple posts asking the same thing.
It’s still an option, but it isn’t the best one for long-term results.
2. Don’t Forget the Hashtags
As far as we’ve been able to gather, this update will only affect the timeline (effective March 29, 2016).
However, this update doesn’t look like it will affect the search results.
[Tweet “The #InstagramUpdate won’t affect search results so don’t forget hashtags via @ArielRule”]
This means that you can still show up in relevant searches by using hashtags when posting to IG.
If you’ve gotten a bit lax in using relevant hashtags, then do some research for good ones that can help you garner likes and follows.
3. Get (Even More) Creative With Your Posts
Creating content for Instagram can take a lot of time and planning, and let’s face it… sometimes, we get lazy and post stuff that isn’t that great.
But with this update, you’ll need to step up your game.
Like most other popular social media platforms, there is a content overload.
With 300 million active monthly users in Instagram, there is a lot of noise.
The more profiles that people follow, the noisier their account becomes as it’s flooded with multiple posts.
Couple that with this update and that means you need to start posting better content.
What does better content mean?
I could (and will) write a long post on this question, but here are a few tips for the time being:
- Consider branding your page. If your posts don’t have anything consistent about them, you could quickly see a slip in engagement. A branded feed makes it easier for people to recognize your brand and helps to keep people engaged. Consider putting together a branding guide for your Instagram account so that your content is cleaner and attracts the right followers.
- Give some stuff away for free. People love free stuff so integrating a giveaway into your strategy or giving away something free of charge a great way to increase likes and follows.
- Post emotional content. Instagram is a platform that already gives you the edge when it comes to connecting with people on an emotional level. As a marketer, you need to find which emotional angle is best for positioning your brand in a positive light. Posts that trigger sympathy or compassion may be a good idea. When in doubt, ask yourself, “What story is this post telling?” Doing that can help you post better content.
- Use calls-to-action. Give people a direction. Ask them to click the link in your profile. Tell them to like your post. You don’t have to be forceful, but people like direction — so give it to them.
It’s important to remember that the goal from here on out is to keep your audience engaged.
Everything that Instagram has released about this update leads one to think that by getting more likes on your content from your audience increases the chance you have to keep showing up higher in their feed.
Bonus Tip: Leverage Influencers to Expand Your Reach
Influencer marketing can be a powerful method to start using if you’d like to increase your reach and get in front of more followers and potential customers.
This can get costly depending on the influencer you work with.
However, some will be willing to exchange a post on their account for a post on yours.
Remember This: Instagram is Great, but It’s Just a Tool
Just like a blog is a tool for your business, Instagram is just another tool to help build awareness, authority and sales.
With that being said, you shouldn’t keep all your eggs in one basket.
Instagram is simply a platform, but you should not rely or build your entire marketing platform on this single area.
However, you don’t want to just drop it now that this update has come around.
If you haven’t already, sign up for Iconosquare (not an affiliate link) so that you can start tracking metrics to get the best overview of what posts, hashtags and campaigns that are working for your brand.
Price for a year of Iconosquare is just under $30 and it’s well worth the investment.
When it comes to this update, so far, the best option is to reevaluate what you’re currently doing, set a game plan for how you can keep or increase engagement for your profile and then track metrics on Iconosquare and Google Analytics to measure your return on investment.
What methods and changes to strategy to do you plan to implement after Instagram’s update for 2016? I’d love to hear your thoughts and what concerns you have regarding this move
Alexia P. Bullard says
I found your post through Female Freelance Writers, and just had to comment. This was great post, and very thorough!
I know many people are complaining about the algorithm change, as well as the resulting influx of posts asking people to turn on “post notifications.” While it may get a bit annoying for personal accounts, it is a great opportunity for business professionals to adjust their marketing tactics.
Loved your post, and am definitely sharing!