Instagram is moving to an algorithm-filtered image feed, showing users the images most interesting to them—similar to Facebook’s Top Stories feature.
Quick reaction was negative, from both users (who didn’t want Instagram and Facebook meddling in their reverse-chronological feed) and influencers, who rely on Instagram’s reach.
How did content creators respond?
We’ve seen this before. When Facebook really started to crank up its News Feed algorithm, brands begged fans to turn on notifications so they wouldn’t miss a post.
Is this really the best option, though? SocialTimes talked with Brad O’Brien, senior director of paid social and native advertising at 3Q Digital, to learn how brands can learn from the past.
Begging for fans to turn on notifications can backfire. If people get too many notifications (you’re not the only one asking them to do this), there’s an easy fix: the unfollow.
So what can brands do to hold fans’ attention? O’Brien’s advice may be frustrating to many content creators, but it’s one echoed by Facebook marketers:
It sounds cliché, but create great content! Great content, tailored to your audience, still gets shared—it is a social network after all. Give users a reason to visit your page. For instance, I have a group of 3-5 Instagram accounts that I visit on a daily basis because I can always count on them for a good laugh. The content is high quality and thoughtful, and I never feel like a proactive visit to their page was time wasted. Make your content so good that people are hooked, regardless of what an algorithm is dictating. Of course, paying to get eyes on your posts is an option, and one that advertisers need to be accustomed to moving forward.
Followers have a simple solution to ensure they’re seeing posts that matter most to them: only follow people and brands they really care about. Who can say they liked having a cluttered newsfeed full of updates from accounts that they barely acknowledged? I can all-but-guarantee everyone reading this article could purge at least 20% of the accounts they follow and not miss them at all.
It’s also time (if you haven’t already) to realize that Instagram is a pay-to-play space. O’Brien pointed out that it would be naive to believe that Facebook would not look for ways to monetize Instagram, much like it monetized its own platform.
O’Brien noted that while organic reach on Instagram will likely plummet, it will still be a great outlet for engagement:
A lot of marketers are begging for followers to turn on post notifications and in my opinion, this seems desperate. The average user will still see about 30% of possible follower activity in their newsfeed. Marketers need to make their content so good that it consistently falls into that 30%.
It’s important that marketers are offering more engagement than their competitors, so that users are less apt to engage with competitor content and more likely to be drawn to theirs.
Marketers should also be securing budget to boost their presence on Instagram and auditing past content to draw correlations around which types of content best engages their audience.
Readers: How does Instagram’s algorithm change the site’s potential?