According to ScottWegener, there are many algorithms that control our daily lives. Google’s PageRank algorithm shapes what we see when we go online. Facebook’s Newsfeed algorithm influences who we interact with and how often. And while it has become easy to forget about these algorithms, not possible to understand them, and even easy to be frustrated with them, Instagram has changed the game.
Instagram’s new algorithm
Instagram now determines how prominently a photo will show in your feed by how many likes it has received. There is no way to force a photo out of an algorithmic blacklist if it doesn’t get enough likes as well as no way for people outside of the platform to contact Instagram and get their photos featured more prominently by liking them en masse.
This is a huge change because it communicates to brands and influencers alike that something that doesn’t work as well as hoped doesn’t just remain hidden on the platform. It actually hurts your reach, you might even want to call it banishment.
In what ways is Instagram’s new algorithm bad for brands and influencers?
It rewards engagement and penalizes consistency. These are two things brands often want to do in the opposite way from how Instagram wants them to operate. Engagement is great for content consumption but not if you have a brand message that needs to be communicated over a long period of time.
Consistency is interesting. It means a photo gets lots of likes for one reason, such as a special event, and then gets none the next day for another reason, such as lack of promotion. There is nothing inherently wrong with consistency but it is the exact opposite of what brands and influencers want when they use Instagram to communicate with their followers.
The problem is that equating engagement with consistency is an incredibly hard thing to do on Instagram today because all you see in your feed are photos that are being shown because other people liked them. If something doesn’t get lots of likes it doesn’t have a place in someone’s feed and therefore doesn’t make it into the algorithm.
This means that in a way Instagram is rewarding organic reach and penalizing brand engagement. It is also changing the game for all brands and influencers on the platform because it is more about how many likes you have than what you say or do.
It will be up to the marketers to understand how this update works not just to see what they can get out of it but also to decide if it helps or harms their efforts on the platform. The good news is that they have plenty of time to adjust and analyze how this works in their favor before it really becomes an issue so long as they pay attention now.
The one way brands can ensure that they get their content in front of as many people as possible is to be consistent on the platform. Influencers need a strategy for drawing traffic to their accounts without relying too heavily on the platform to show their images.
You can use the platform to be part of the conversation but you cannot rely on it.
You need to have a way to build up your own organic audience that will follow you and engage with your content on its own merits. Use Instagram as a means of building up your audience and then use that audience as an organic means for engaging with your customers.
In this way, if Instagram changes its algorithm again, you shouldn’t feel like it has affected your ability to communicate with customers in ways that matter both for brand recognition and increased sales.
You need to do something different now, though. You need to build up your presence on Instagram from the ground up and in ways consistent with the way you want to draw attention to your brand.
Because the only guarantee is that Instagram will continue to change its algorithm in ways that make it more user-centric and less brand-centric. You might even say that doing this has made social media platforms more like general social media than anything else.
In a way, though, this is a good thing because when things become too tailored towards brands they can often end up alienating consumers.
Influencers may have a shot at a little more exposure with any image they post if they are consistent but there is no guarantee and they can’t stop someone else from being in front of their fans first and foremost because of Instagram’s algorithm. A good social media manager knows how to boost engagement and keep up with algorithms for organic reach across multiple platforms so that an influencer’s efforts aren’t any less effective now than before.
The Secret Algorithm Behind Instagram:
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