The recent change in Instagram’s algorithm has generated a lot of conversation around the way the popular social networking app functions. While some have slammed it, claiming that it has brought down the visibility of their posts, according to Instagram’s official Creators Account, a post is now seen and is reaching 50% more followers due to the same algorithm. But how exactly how does this new algorithm work? And how can a brand make the most out of it? We are here to break it down for you. So, let’s go!
To start off with, how does the new algorithm function? Well, it primarily considers three parameters, along with several other contributing factors. Here are the three main parameters-
YOUR SOCIAL EQUATION WITH YOUR FOLLOWERS
What is Instagram? Before you think about anything else, consider this fact- Instagram is a social networking app. So, the quality and quantity of relationships you build with your followers is particularly important. And how can a brand build solid relationships? With clear, concise two-way communication and by generating consistent and quality engagement with its followers. Hence, the first primary factor that the algorithm considers is how well your brand can communicate and engage with its followers. The yardsticks to measure this is to have a constant influx and exchange of Comments, Direct Messages and Tagging with your followers. Likes, views (on videos), re-shares and saves are also important. Communicate with your followers, talk to them. No like really, talk to them, one on one. Be responsive and fast in your DMs and Comments. Tag followers in your posts and let them know that they mean a lot to you. By noticing that you are trying to build a solid community around your brand, Instagram will give a further boost to your posts, in compliance with the new algorithm.
A FOLLOWER’S INTERESTS
Every user is inclined towards a certain type of content and a particular domain. While some users love to watch video content more frequently, others are inclined towards images/graphically designed creatives that they find more engaging and consume less of their time and attention span. The new algorithm monitors these inclinations and trends of every user and accordingly feeds him/her the content that they like to see more often. If the domain of your brand and the type of content you churn out happens to match with the interests of a user, that user will be shown your content more frequently. Hence, it is important to monitor the type of content that is working with most of your target audience & align your feed accordingly.
THE TIMING OF YOUR POSTS
While WHAT you post is of course important, WHEN you post it is also equally important. When a user logs in to the app, he/she will see the most recent posts first. So, if you know your target audience and understand their lifestyle, you should try to post at a time, when you know they’d be available online.
While these are the three primary factors, also bear in mind some of these other decisive factors-
Between a user/follower logging out of Instagram and logging in again, the algorithm measures a post’s engagement and when the user logs in again, it highlights only those posts that have received good engagement. So, getting good engagement on your post is vital for maximum visibility. A factor that works in your favor is that 42% of users check the app multiple times a day. So, you have several chances to pump up your post’s engagement to catch their attention.
Another important factor to note is, if a user spends more than 45 minutes scrolling through his/her feed, he/she will be shown a broader variety of content, including posts that have lesser engagement. So, the amount of time a user spends also plays a role in the visibility of your post.
If a user is following several thousands of accounts, the possibility of him/her seeing your posts decreases as they are already being flooded with a lot of content. A more concentrated following helps a user see content from each account more succinctly.
SOME IMPORTANT TIPS TO WORK BETTER WITH THE ALGORITHM
Maintain a consistent posting rate: Consistency is key when you post content on Instagram. If you are a new account, there are chances that you might be excited and enthusiastic to post as frequently as possible. As a result, you may end up posting multiple times in a day. But while doing so, ask yourself, are you going to be able to maintain this level of excitement and enthusiasm after say, three months, or even one month? If the answer is yes, will you be able to churn out content as frequently as well? If the answer to that is yes as well, nothing like it! But if not, you might want to reconsider your posting strategy and keep a more relaxed yet consistent rate of posting.
Monitor your analytics frequently: If you need assistance to monitor your performance, Instagram has got you covered in the best possible way with its Analytics. Be sure to check your Analytics and review your content strategy as per the performance of your posts. Does video content fare better than photos? Are the hashtags you put being of any assistance? Is it time to reconsider your color scheme or continue with the same? All these questions can be answered with a detailed evaluation of your Analytics over a period of time.
Reusing & Reposting Popular Content: The quest for new and consistently highly engaging content is a tough one. While you might have achieved great engagement on some posts, it can be tough to keep up with or supersede that level of engagement every time. Hence, it helps to rehash and reuse popular content from time to time. Since it is a tried and tested formula, it will get you successful results and it takes off some of the pressure to churn out content consistently. It also saves time.
Encourage UGC: User-generated content is one of the most solid testaments of a close relationship between you and your followers. However, please note that it isn’t exactly UGC if you are paying your followers to do it for you. That’s a paid collaboration. Sure, a little encouragement or a show of gratitude is fine, but generally, UGC entails regular, unpaid followers who are creating something because they love your brand and they’re doing out of sheer enthusiasm. When other people see the content created by your followers, they see your brand in a new, relatable, and cheerful light. It’s a strong show of brand loyalty.
Collaborations with like-minded bloggers/ influencers: Of course, the purpose of generating UGC is not to undermine the importance of bloggers or influencers. It is equally important to collaborate with like-minded bloggers, content creators and influencers, who function in the same domain, to help you spread the word about your brand. A genuine, favorable review from a well-known influencer can have significant results on your brand visibility. But again, the way to go about it is to generate a sense of trust, admiration, and relatability for the blogger to associate with you.
Relevant and smart use of hashtags: Ever noticed how your post gets attention from unexpected quarters? From someone who is not following you or is not even in the same country? Well, it could be a case of your post reaching them through a relevant and smart use of hashtags. Hashtags are an important tool to maximize your reach towards users. But beware to stay relevant to your brand and target audience and use the hashtags accordingly. Irrelevant and misleading use of hashtags can result in your account being black-listed and consequently demoted by the algorithm.
We hope these points give you a better understanding of the algorithm and how you can chart out your brand’s content strategy around it. However, remember that the key to achieving the desired results from these points is consistency. We wish your brand gets the best it can get from Instagram!
Need help in putting these tips & pointers to practical use? Reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org & allow us to create a social media content calendar for your brand, that works in tandem with the algorithm.