The last time there was a raging uproar over Instagram was when they culled the bots & fake followers, leaving countless fragile wounded egos in their wake. Until last month.
Surely we saw this coming when Facebook acquired Instagram for a cool $1 billion dollars in 2012. The most surprising piece is that it took them this long to start (noticeably) monkeying with the algorithm.
You couldn’t ignore the tearful goodbyes, pleas to “stay together” and pitiful begging to TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS that was everywhere on Instagram the last week of March 2016. The broad sweeping panic reached far and wide from brands and bloggers big and small.
Why the tantrum? Insta was activating a new algorithm that looked a whole lot like their parent Facebook’s algorithm, an algorithm often considered a huge pain in the butt for anyone who gets complacent from using them for free advertising. This change caused more waves then when they introduced paid ads to the feed.
The game on Insta used to be if you scheduled regular posts from your brand account you were practically guaranteed to pop up in your followers feed. Since the timeline was entirely chronological the more you posted, the more your followers saw your account. The focus was on volume, with quality being an important back seat driver.
Back in the good ole days you used a scheduling tool such as Hootsuite or Onlypult to schedule hourly posts (or even more frequent) and BOOM! Visibility.
Now, Instagram bases what it shows you on a few different factors. Yes, the timing it was posted is still somewhat important, but it now gives a good bit of weight to your favorite accounts–those that you interact with the most via comments & likes. Instagram had this to say about the change:
“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. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”
Now that you can’t just flood your followers with posts, what does it take to get noticed? Instagram wants beautiful imagery, gives weight to video and hands over preference to accounts that engage and interact with their fans. If this is a wake up call to start being friendlier to your fans, it may be too late.
I don’t want to get all doom & gloom on you, so before you throw in the towel on your Instagram efforts, there are a few useful considerations to make.
Does your business have a focus in visual media? Do you enjoy Instagram? Do you prefer creating visual imagery over written copy? Are you a photographer, a fashion brand, a food or fashion blogger, makeup artist or really cute animal? If so, Instagram may be a great platform for you. Stay tuned for Instagram best practices. Until then, keep calm & selfie on.