The Instagram algorithm has once again evolved with key changes to newsfeed, hashtag and discoverability features. So, what does this mean for your Instagram account and, more importantly, how can you continue to use the platform to your brand’s advantage?
Previously, Instagram posts would show up on users’ newsfeeds in chronological order. However, Instagram is now basing the order of posts not on recency, but interaction. And we’re not talking about quick likes. How to get to the top of Instagram’s newsfeed and discovery pages is now predominantly dependent on the number of ‘positive’ comments and engagements a post receives within the first 5 minutes, as opposed to the number of likes.
One reason for this is due to Instagram looking to stamp out social media ‘bots’ and ensure authentic posts are reaching the top of users’ feeds. As well as this, Instagram is trying to offer its users a more personalised and tailored experience.
In addition to this, users’ feeds will now include content that Instagram believes they will like, alongside the posts of those they follow. These include posts belonging to Facebook friends as well as accounts users have liked and commented on, but not necessarily followed.
As a result, publishers, brands and influencers alike are finding it hard to secure top spots on their followers’ feeds. Engaging content, loyal following and popular posting times are no longer cutting the mustard. So how can you counteract these recent changes?
With discoverability on the rapid decline, users have had to think of more creative strategies to reach their desired audience, such as spending more time on producing interactive content that asks questions, competitions, giveaways and advisory posts to help boost engagement rates.
Further to this, brands and influencers in particular are now having to pay to be ‘seen’. According to Instagram, the new changes will actually have no impact on where paid ads appear within users’ feeds, essentially burying posts that are not backed by a paid Instagram strategy.
On the plus side for business accounts, Instagram has now introduced the ability to follow hashtags, which will show users’ favoured hashtag-focused posts. New hashtag-related posts will follow the platform’s same algorithm. For example, if a user follows the hashtag ‘fashion’, Instagram will determine which fashion-focused posts to show in their feed, based on popularity, quality and engagement rates of the posts.
With the new follow hashtag feature, marketers can now actually capitalise on trending conversations relating to their brands. By investing in hashtag research, brands can increase the discoverability of their posts and achieve a higher reach, whilst being able to provide content that their audiences will actually want to see.
Companies can also utilise this feature to encourage users to follow their brand’s own personal hashtag making user-generated content even more effective. Users will be more exposed to brand content created by other consumers, giving a more organic and personalised insight to the brand that can be a lot more persuasive than, say, a traditional ad. As well as this, brands can use this feature to monitor and review their best user generated content while keeping a firm eye on competitors and emerging industry trends.