I love Instagram.
It’s by far my favourite social network and I’m pretty sure it’s my most used app on my iPhone (would love to see that data!) so it’s no surprise that when I have a free few moments that can’t be filled by enjoying a moment of calm; I turn to Insta.
And over the Easter weekend, Instagram went crazy. Every other post was warning me of the Instagram apocalypse in typical ‘end is nigh’ drama with people and brands telling me to turn on post notifications or else I might just lose a limb or worse, I would miss some of their updates. You can read the official announcement here. In brief, Instagram claim their users miss on average 70% of their feeds meaning that people often miss the posts they most care about (like Zayn and Gigi solidifying those dating rumours…just me?!). The new algorithm will share the posts in users’ feeds based on the likelihood that they’ll be interested in that content, their relationship with the poster and the timelines of the post.
I am one of those lucky users who are experiencing the change in it’s beta stage (review: already sick of seeing people’s brunches 14 hours after they’ve eaten them) and there’s a great big problem that I have already noticed. This update will be great for your Selena Gomez’s and Nikes but not so great for the smaller brands trying to build and nurture their Instagram community.
A change is gonna come…
I’m all for technological advancement and understand that apps must adapt for their users in order to survive. But ultimately, I have not spoken to one person who thinks the change is a good thing and after chatting with my friend’s dad at the weekend, himself a small business owner, it strikes me how much of an impact this will have on those smaller brands.
It’s difficult to know exactly what the impact will be at the moment but a few starters for ten…
The old *sob* model meant that a post to 1000 followers would reach 1000 feeds but, if Facebook is anything to go by, the new algorithm will likely make organic reach more difficult and the number of followers will not carry the same weight as before.
With a new algorithm that prioritises the content it believes you will be most interested in, it will be more important than ever to post engaging content. This may require a more quality over quantity approach as all content will affect the algorithm.
There is also an issue here with how people actually use Instagram. I follow hundreds of accounts but probably only interact with a handful and 99% of the time, they are my friends. The new algorithm will mean that I see more of my friends’ posts than any other, yet I still really want to see the latest posts from the brands I’ve chosen to follow. We may start seeing users try to circumvent the change by an increase in ‘tagging’ which would technically count as a comment but isn’t the type of engagement you want.
It’s likely that the change in algorithm is intentional to monetise Instagram further and with the decrease in organic reach, paid advertising will become more common. When the new feed replaces the old one, users can expect more sophisticated and effective ad offerings.
What can small brands/businesses do?
The new era of Instagram marketing will require a mixture of organic, paid advertising, and engaging content to get great results. Now is the time to think about getting the strategy right, trialling what works well and ensuring your content not only keeps your current audience engaged but also appeals to new people. And of course, you can also ask your followers to turn on post notifications …
NB. You can also sign this petition to try to keep the old algorithm!