Unless you’ve forgotten to check Instagram for a few weeks, you’ll have seen about a hundred of these in your news feed:
And if you’re anything like me, your initial reaction was to roll your eyes, quickly followed by panicking and wondering if you should beg your followers to ‘turn on notifications’ too.
The great news is that no, you shouldn’t. You also don’t need to panic. But before I get into why, here’s a bit more about the Instagram algorithm and what it means.
What is the new Instagram algorithm?
The simple answer is that, much like its parent company Facebook, Instagram hasn’t revealed exactly what their algorithm is or how it will work.
All they’ve said is that ‘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’ (read Instagram’s full statement).
The thing so many of us forget is that Instagram is a business.
Sure, we use it for free and so far we’ve had a lovely time of it, with all of our followers seeing all of our posts, much like Facebook was back in the ‘good old days’. But that doesn’t make Instagram any money. If your fans see all of your posts, there’s simply no incentive to advertise on the platform.
Instagram might be telling us that this new change is all about the user experience – and that’s partially true (I recently unfollowed a bunch of people because my home feed was just too cluttered, so this change should alleviate that) – but the stark reality is that this is how Instagram is going to make the big bucks.
And no matter how much you hate that, you only have one choice: deal with it.
Facebook has changed so many times since its inception and with every tweak we all cried out, rallying against the powers that be changing our beloved platform. But without evolving, Facebook wouldn’t be the £1 billion plus company it is today.
And honestly, Facebook advertising is effective*. It can yield an incredible ROI, making it a sound investment for businesses large and small.
*when used properly.
So before you give up on Instagram completely, read on.
Why you shouldn’t panic about the new Instagram algorithm
It’s not even implemented yet.
Instagram announced the change and within minutes the people panicked. There’s no indication as to when this will roll out to all users or indeed how exactly it will affect us.
Tip: keep producing your best content (that is, the images your fans respond to fastest) to keep your engagement high.
We have no idea what ‘turn on notifications’ actually means.
The option just appeared one day, and people jumped to conclusions. But think about it. Do you really want a notification every time someone you follow posts something? No thanks! Before you beg your followers to turn on this function, be sure it’s not going to turn them off altogether.
Tip: take some time to analyse your existing Instagram content to see what’s worked well and why. Keep doing more of that!
Quality content still wins.
Trust me, whatever tricks people will come up with that claim to fool the Instagram algorithm, they will be total nonsense.
Post only your best content – that is, the stuff your fans want to see (not always the same as what you want to show them) and that’s how you’ll end up being favoured by Instagram.
Tip: experiment with posting at different times of the day to work out when your fans respond most quickly. Post only at your optimal time.
Instagram doesn’t owe you.
As I’ve already mentioned, Instagram is a business. And they don’t owe you free marketing, which is what you’ve been getting from them so far. Be grateful for the years you’ve had, then adapt and go with it.
The faster you do this, the further ahead of the game you’ll be.
There’s a solution.
Although you’re not going to like it.
If you want more people to see your Instagram posts under this new algorithm, you’ll need to pay. Yep, Instagram advertising is the future…and if it’s anything like Facebook advertising, it’s gonna be awesome! I can’t wait.
Before you sink a bunch of money into Instagram, though, make sure it’s actually beneficial to your business. Likes are great and all, but is Instagram providing value to your business? If not, consider spending your money on the platforms that work best for you and watch and learn from those who experiment first on Instagram.
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