The Carrot or the (Selfie) Stick: Adapting to Instagram’s New Algorithmic Formula
Instagram is switching to an algorithmic formula, potentially as early as tomorrow. Is your brand ready?
The team at Instagram estimates that, as it is, the average user misses 70% of the content in their feed. Their new “algorithmic formula” is a fancy term that means the order of the photos in your newsfeed will no longer be determined by the time photos are posted, but by the likelihood that you will be interested in them. That determination is made through analyzing your relationship with the user and the timeliness of the post. All posts will still be available, just served in a different order. You got it – Instagram is becoming Facebookified.
Engagement will be the primary data point for determining a post’s importance. An engaging post from an account with followers that frequently engage with the rest of their content is most likely to show high in the feed. Follower counts will be prioritized much lower, as the priority will be primarily based on engagement. It is no longer enough to simply collect massive amounts of followers; you’ve got to provide content with which your audience wants to interact.
As brand managers, how do we respond to this? Several different approaches have been suggested. Many professionals are currently recommending ways to “game the system” – beating the formula by circumventing or outsmarting it. We respect the ambition behind that approach, but simply can’t see how that will be most successful in the long run.
Instead of trying to force content on your followers, why not give them a reason to want to come to you? The best way to succeed in this new ecosystem is by learning it and adapting your content to it accordingly.
Think about it: why are we writing about this update? It is intended to give users what they want, and possibly need, to hear. As brand managers, we recommend that this be your goal as well. By creating high quality, engaging content, you won’t need to beg or trick your followers into interacting with your posts, they will actually want to.
Ultimately, the best way to adapt to Instagram’s new algorithm is purely to use the platform in the way that it was originally intended. Here are three simple but effective tips for doing so:
Interact with your follower base. Don’t just post, sit back and let them comment. Instead, respond to their responses and engage a conversation.
Interact with relevant accounts that aren’t already following you. Give them (and their respective follower base) a reason to check out your content.
Before it was opened up to advertisers, Instagram was simply a platform for sharing beautiful and interesting photos and video. When it comes down to it, that’s what it remains to this day. If you approach your content accordingly and regularly engage with your followers and other relevant accounts, you’ll see a high level of interaction on your posts and your reach will expand accordingly.