All day, I dream about chronology, said every Instagram user during the past couple of weeks. Brands flocked to the platform telling people to “turn on your notifications” like they were Brad Pitt in World War Z trying to stop the zombie apocalypse. Here’s a hint, the secret serum isn’t to turn on your notifications.
It’s no surprise that Instagram is about to be very much more like Facebook, its parent company. It may be a little hipper (for the moment), but no longer the bastion of organic interaction that it has been in years past. Much like the Facebook Algorithm (http://swiftwhale.com/help-my-facebook-organic-reach-has-fallen-and-it-cant-get-up-and-how-to-improve-that\), Instagram is employing a new way to display content that isn’t leaving brands and users 100% in the driver’s seat.
User growth is not an issue for Instagram. They are the cool kids on the block right now, and everyone wants to join their house party.
Here’s how this plays out. Imagine missing 70% of what happens at this proverbial house party. That’s what Instagram is worried about. IG says the move towards an algorithm means 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.” So what’s the problem? Well imagine a bunch of people you’ve never met, like at freshman orientation, chauffeuring you around from moment-to-moment. How does that change your party going experience?
Ok, take a deep breathe; it’s not quite as dramatic as freshman orientation because what users didn’t know is that Instagram has been (prior to its announcement) and will continue to slowly roll out the algorithm, slowly.
Want to be one of my Top 5 friends on MySpace, watch some TRL, and drink some Crystal Pepsi? Probably, not. Point: Things come and go. Strategy is always evolving. Yours should too.
You’ve Got a Friend In Me, Kind Of.
Before the algorithm change, Locowise reports that engagement rate is 0.84% of total audience in February 2016, an 11.58% decrease since the month prior, and the lowest engagement rate since April 2015. In this time (since April 2015), IG engagement has decreased by 70%.
Your total number of followers no longer equate to the total number of impressions you have come to expect. Instead, only a very small segment of your total population will be allowed to interact organically with your brand. You’ve got a friend, only when that friend can see you.
Engagement Rate is Everything.
Currently, the average user follows 400-500 accounts and users are uploading 80M+ Photos Per Day. Focusing on how to cut through all that chatter, post algorithm induced apocalypse, benefits each user and is critical to every brand. Finding a better way (or a better Ad Reach Manager) to BE SURE your content is seen is no longer optional if your brand depends on social reach.
In the meantime, do the small stuff:
You know the saying, different strokes for different folks? On Instagram, it’s all about the photos. In February 2016, Locowise found that photos had, on average, an engagement rate of 0.88%. Videos engaged 0.53%. Since part of the algorithm favors posts that have a higher engagement rate, photos remain to rule the iron throne. Save your videos for your Facebook strategy, and put your most beautifully curated photos on IG. Because, math.
Cozy Up to Analytics.
Data, Analytics, Advertising, Paid Reach. Got the warm and fuzzies yet? Didn’t think so. Not yet, at least, but increasing your web traffic through more defined call-to-actions available in the Instagram Ads Manager sure sounds nice. As follower count becomes less relevant and engagement rate declines, brands not wanting to be left out in the cold, will begin to embrace a paid reach with real-time trackable numbers through both the Ads Manager and Google Analytics. Paid reach not only allows your brand to increase visibility, but brands like glu™, a mobile gaming producer, saw an increase of 39% in downloads after embracing Instagram Ads.
While it can be complicated to learn your way around Instagram Ads, expecting to post content and have Instagram give away the same exposure they have been is a fool’s errand.
There’s no such thing as monogamy when it comes to social media strategy. To love one network, means that saucy minx can change his/her algorithm at any time leaving you heartbroken. Embrace the change. Embrace an ever evolving social media strategy. Consider this your wakeup call, Romeo.
Your neighborhood Social Media Ninja, Dog Walking, Sunshine Skipping, Part Time Cheeky Bio Writer, and full time believer that I am a mermaid. Ariel, step aside. I’m comin’ for you.