How to Acclimate to Instagram’s Algorithm Changes

Remember when skeptics thought social media was a fad?

Social media marketing is significant today, and even more so tomorrow. 90% of young adults ages 18 to 29 use social media (compared to just 35% of those over age 65), and a third of millennials say social media is one of their preferred channel for communicating with businesses. Furthermore, 88% of businesses are on at least one platform.

We are living in a progressively social and mobile-centric world. Social platform ads are developing, not only in targeting opportunities, but also in reach. In November 2007, Facebook Ads were launched, and since then, social advertising has become an evolving pay-to-play game. According to FastCompany in 2015, customer engagement rates on Facebook have declined to the point where only promoted posts deliver meaningful results. In past years, brands were guaranteed an active audience and timely crafted posts proved to be effective. No real surprise, the free ride is now over for both Facebook and Instagram.

Instagram News Feed Algorithm

Instagram recently announced it will be updating its news feed algorithm. Instagram claims that users miss the majority of their friends’ photo updates. “On average, people miss about 70 percent of the posts in their Instagram feed,” Kevin Systrom, co-founder and chief executive of Instagram, said in an interview.

Instagram posts will no longer appear in chronological order, instead being “based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting, and the timeliness of the post.” Instagram will choose what to display, in essence reflecting Facebook’s news feed. This change grants Instagram the power to control ad content, and the content that is being seen by users. The social platform does not currently separate “personal” from “business” accounts. In other words, this algorithm update is not exclusively unique to businesses (unlike parent company Facebook algorithm changes in 2014).

Focus on Quality Content

Marketers need to continue to focus on quality content that drives engagement. While being strategic about visual content, marketers also should be tactical about a clear call-to-action and captions. Visibility is now heavily dependent on how engaging a post is (i.e., if there are a lot of comments and likes).

"At the end of the day, the people who will benefit the most are advertisers," says Photographer Jasmine Star. "You pay-to-play, and the more you pay, the more people will be seeing you." If the algorithm changes go well, this could serve to boost Instagram’s business. The more time people spend using Instagram, the more frequently the company is able to serve people ads.


Author: Lili Foltz