Social media marketers who primarily focus on Facebook have long accepted the fact that the platform’s algorithms are constantly changing, and not always in a way that’s positive for advertisers. As such, it should come as no surprise that with Instagram’s recent announcement that it’s testing a new algorithm to be implemented in the coming months, many marketers and influencers are diving headfirst into panic mode.
After all, the constant tinkering that has gone into Facebook’s algorithms has consistently reduced the unpaid reach of anyone who runs a company page in an effort to get brands to pay more for sponsored posts. Naturally, many influencers fear that Instagram’s changes will have a similar effect.
But you don’t have to panic quite yet. As TIME notes, the algorithm’s intended focus on highlighting the content that users value most can ultimately be a boon for savvy Instagram marketers. Here’s how:
1) A Focus On Quality
When Instagram announced the pending algorithm update, the company stated: “To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.” Rather than displaying posts in chronological order, the social media platform plans to display posts in an order that it believes will be most appealing to an individual. In other words, an order that’s more than likely based on engagement, not necessarily the type of account.
What does this mean for marketers and influencers? Essentially, if you already have a highly engaged following, you probably don’t need to worry about your posts disappearing from followers’ feeds. If an individual is already regularly interacting with your posts, Instagram’s algorithm will recognize this and likely prioritize your posts to make them even more prominent for that particular user.
While it is true that followers who don’t actively engage with you on Instagram will probably see fewer of your posts as a result of the algorithm change, the opposite is also true, ensuring that those who care about your brand the most will be even more likely to be exposed to your content.
As such, the importance of generating engaging, high-quality content cannot be understated. The more unique and visually engaging your posts are, the more likely your followers are to interact with them. Considering Instagram’s new algorithmic update, this could ultimately be the single biggest factor that determines your posts’ future placement.
2) Turn On Notifications
As the New York Times has reported, Instagram has seen a flurry of posts from users asking their followers to turn on post notifications for their respective feeds. While many of these posts have sprung from a panicked assumption that the algorithm update is already in effect, there is some wisdom in asking followers to turn on notifications for your Instagram account.
First and foremost, when your followers elect to do this, they will receive a notification from Instagram every time you post to your account, guaranteeing that even if a post doesn’t show up in their feed, they will have another avenue for accessing your content. While not every follower will elect to turn on notifications for your account, those that do will become even more likely to both see and engage with the majority of your posts.
Thankfully, with the algorithm still undergoing testing, you don’t need to request that your followers do this right away—probably a good idea, considering the overwhelming number of similar posts going live right now. However, it would be wise to make this request in the not-too-distant future.
3) Be Prepared to Invest More in Sponsored Posts
In light of the fact that Facebook owns Instagram, it’s understandable that many brands and influencers are concerned about the algorithm’s potential to diminish their organic reach. As ReCode notes, Instagram is “building business profiles” and “special accounts specifically for brands,” indicating that the platform may soon be separating how it ranks and shares content from accounts identified as a business.
As marketers have already seen on Facebook, such algorithmic changes typically reduce organic reach, requiring a greater investment in sponsored posts. While the loss of what is essentially free advertising will be a burden for many marketers, the undeniable truth is that Instagram’s highly engaged user base makes it an essential part of any social media marketing campaign.
Even if algorithmic changes require you to invest more in sponsored posts, these are marketing dollars that will likely be very well spent.
We’ve yet to see how Instagram’s new algorithm will ultimately affect the way posts appear on the platform. That said, it’s best to be prepared for just about anything. By ensuring that your posts are extremely engaging, requesting that users turn on notifications for your account and preparing to invest more in sponsored posts, you can guarantee that Instagram will continue to be a valuable marketing tool for your brand.