On March 15, Instagram sent filter fanatics everywhere into a frenzy when they uttered the dreaded A-word…. algorithm. Taking a page from the Facebook playbook of 2009, Instagram announced that it would stop sorting its posts chronologically by date in favor of prioritizing posts by a user’s interests, relationship with the poster, and timeliness of posts.
Instagram claims that the average user only sees approximately 30% of their feed, leaving 70% of what might be interesting posts unseen. Their goal with the change is to create a more personalized experience for the user and “cut the clutter.”
In addition to sending their users into a panic about letting Instagram decide what an individual’s interests are, brands are scrambling to determine if they are the “clutter” that will be cut. Creating an organic following on Instagram is a challenging task for brands – sustaining and building upon that following to remain in the top 30% of their follower’s feeds will take strategy.
Since the announcement, Instagram has been mum on a specific launch date (My feed actually just changed TODAY!) for the new algorithm, simply stating that they have only rolled it out to a single-digit percent of core users for testing and that it will “eventually” roll out gradually to a broader audience.
Here are four things that Peebles Creative Group recommends our clients do to maximize their impact with Instagram in light of the change:
This is the one sure way to get around the algorithm. While the algorithm will impact a brand’s organic posts, it will not impact the placement of paid advertising. Instagram opened its advertising platform to all businesses last August to staggering success. For as little as two cents per view, we often recommend Instagram to our clients looking for a cost effective way to get in front of a Millennial audience. A lot can be communicated in the brief moment a post occupies a user’s entire screen. The key here is to remember that an Instagram ad appears as a post, so if you want engagement, you need to be mindful of this platform. Which brings me to our next point…
Don’t Tailor, Create
Remember that Instagram is not Facebook, nor is it Twitter. Users scroll through posts at a high speed, only occasionally stopping to read copy in a caption. So that post you created for Facebook or Twitter? It likely isn’t a good fit for your Instagram feed. We encourage clients to consider Instagram as a wordless platform. While you may be able to add text or a call to action to a caption in Instagram, the caption content is secondary to the photo or video communication. Visuals should be created specifically with Instagram in mind, not as a cut-and-paste of a social blast across platforms.
Have A GOAL in Mind
With the changes being made, brands will have less opportunity to be all things to all users. Whether it is organic or paid, having a goal driven post strategy is critical. Whether it is highlighting a product, increasing brand awareness, or adding a human element to the brand, every piece of content you publish should speak to a specific goal. Posting on occasion, a variety of content, with no goal in mind to check off the “social media” section of your marketing plan is exactly the kind of behavior that will get mild interaction and will likely push your post to the bottom of the feed.
Don’t Be the Clutter
At the end of the day, the algorithm is being put in place to cut the clutter from a feed and elevate the posts that get the most interaction. Simply put, our word of advice to our clients is to not be that clutter. You have but a moment to grab the attention of your audience – make it count! Use animation, create a cinemagraph, make videos impactful and interesting without the sound, use photography that requires a double-take.
Here are some accounts with a variety of products in a variety of industries that we think are #killinit
Mail Chimp: @mailchimp
Quest Nutrition: @questnutrition
Taco Bell: @tacobell
US National Parks: @nationalparksus
With the right strategy, Instagram can still be a powerful tool for brands. While it punishes the mundane by pushing these posts lower, the algorithm will reward creativity with increased visibility. Want to know how you can create a custom strategy to increase your visibility on Instagram? We happen to have an entire team of creative people right here to help!