Beating the New Instagram Algorithm

Payton-Allen-blogBy Payton Allen, Copywriter

If you are living on Planet Earth and have a cell phone, you’ve probably heard about the frequent changes to Instagram’s algorithm. Even if you haven’t, you may have noticed that your posts aren’t racking up the likes and comments that they used to. And it’s not your fault. Instagram has diverted from showing posts in chronological order to basing the feed on an algorithm.

Instagram claims that this algorithm lets you see what you are most interested in each time you scroll through your feed, based on profiles you frequently click, comment, like, tag or search. This means that accounts you do not frequently engage with will not appear in your feed. Let’s think about this for a minute…70% of businesses are reported to be on Instagram. Hiding their posts from users’ feeds will require businesses to pay for sponsored posts in order to have their content seen. I’m not so sure that Instagram is trying to improve the user experience as much as they are looking to increase their bottom line. Either way, we as marketers and businesses are faced with a challenge when it comes to creating interesting content and driving engagement.

So what’s the deal? How can we survive without giving in and paying a pretty penny to promote a post? Here are some tips we’ve tried that may help you crack the code:

Be the Total Package.
Your posts may be hidden from feeds, but that’s not the only place that users find your content. Frequently post on Instagram stories so that when people watch them, they are seeing your content. When you post a new photo to your feed, let people know on Instagram stories. This can be a great way to drive users to your page, even the ones who may not have seen your post otherwise. Archive your most interesting stories so that when people come to your page, they have plenty to look at.

LInstagramet’s Engage.
If you want users to comment on your posts, encourage them to do so. The more comments your posts get, the more likely they are to show up on someone’s feed. Ask for answers to questions. Tell your followers that you want their opinions. Invite them to engage. Educate them on a topic. Give them reasons to ask questions and make them return to your page for answers.

It’s Personal.
Users want to connect with a brand or influencer. Posts with personality will perform better than generic brand posts. If a user can relate to you, they are more likely to want to view your profile, take your advice and like your posts. Understanding your audience is the first step to being relatable. Who are you talking to? Cater your content to their interests.

Get it Write.
Not only should you encourage engagement in your caption, but you should use captivating language. Try this little exercise: Take all of the adjectives out of your caption and see if you are still communicating your message clearly and effectively. Here’s an example:

Have you tried our super shiny, really bright, fluorescent lightbulbs?

Our lightbulbs will brighten your day in ways you never expected.

Anyone can throw a string of adjectives on to a sentence, but creative writers can evoke feelings and thought without all the fluff. Be concise but descriptive with your words.

The Quest for Quality Images.
If Instagram is oversaturated enough to justify controlling the posts that we see on our own profiles, that speaks to the amount of imagery out there. If you want a user to stop and look at your post, create imagery that stands out. Creative content with good photography, sharp images, contrasting colors and unique backgrounds is likely to stand out from other posts in your feed. Create those kinds of posts! If you can keep your page consistent, users will begin to recognize your visual imagery and associate your posts with a certain color scheme or type of content. If you can be recognizable in a sea of millions of Instagrams a day, you’re doing it right.

It’s All in the Timing.

There are good and bad times to post on Instagram. That’s a fact. To ensure the highest amount of engagement possible, you should schedule your posts for the hours during the day when your users are most active. To view research on the optimum posting times, check out this article from Sprout Social.

The most important thing to remember is that you can’t build a house on borrowed land. Realize that Instagram can change at any given moment, so try not to stake your entire business on the platform. While it is an asset that we should utilize when we are able, the algorithm could change tomorrow, and it probably will.

Best of luck, we are in this together!