In recent months the popular photo-sharing platform, Instagram, made brutally significant changes to their once straightforward news feed. What used to be presented in chronological order is now an algorithm-driven feed.
“Does this mean what I think it does?!” Yep, posts in your news feed no longer appear in the original sequence they were posted by the people and brands you follow. Instead they are ordered however Instagram chooses. And Instagram – owned by Facebook – works in stealthy ways.
We first heard the news straight from Instagram in mid-March when they told us that the average user (shockingly) missed 70% of their feed. They went on to say an algorithm-driven feed, “ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most”, would be presented “in the coming months” to resolve this.
Well, folks, it’s officially here. So, what can you do about it? Below are four solid ways you can use your knowledge of the Instagram algorithm to your brand’s advantage.
- Drive Your Audience to the Right Places
We all pretty much know Instagram is not the best platform for selling. Overly promotional language does not perform well, and the same can be said about product-focused images. However, if you use your posts to get people off of the platform and onto your website, you have far more control over what they see and how well they perceive it off of Instagram.
The best way to do this is to add a call-to-action (CTA) in your Instagram posts. If you’re wanting to generate sales, direct your audience to the landing page on your website where they can learn more about what you’re selling. If your goal is to increase engagement on your content, include a snippet of an article you’re promoting and add a CTA such as “Click the link in our profile for the full article.”
- Take Advantage of User-Generated Content
Stories are unbelievably valuable when used to engage with your followers. Even more valuable are stories told by your fans because they provide a sense of community. They break down the wall between company and consumer and help establish relationships.
You can start sharing user-generated content by searching for brand, product or market related hashtags. Once you find fans that steadily post content related to your business, reach out by asking them if you can share their photo(s) on your brand’s profile. Always remember to give the original poster credit by @mention and add a CTA at the end asking fans to submit their own photos by using a designated brand hashtag.
- Post About Trending Topics
You don’t need the budget of Fortune 500 companies to tap into trending topics. Often the humblest things that your audience can relate to will drive the greatest results.
A great first step is to integrate topics about certain holidays (sometimes the most little-known and somewhat silly are the most captivating), seasons, popular films, weather, traffic, days of the week, etc. The best way to amplify your success is to avoid isolating users by refraining from posting about political statements, controversial news stories, religion, nationality, or race.
- Create Video Content & Campaign-specific Hashtags
There are various ways to create and post videos that will stand out and gain really great engagement.
A simple, trending way to share witty clips of your industry lifestyle is to use Instagram’s Boomerang mobile app to create a short, looping GIF. Another great idea is to record short interviews with your co-workers, boss, customers, or mascot. And, of course, it’s always nice to see employees at the summer company barbecue, Christmas party, or Friday afternoon happy hour.
Remember to keep your videos short, not longer than 30 seconds. When you post them, add as many relevant hashtags as you can to spread the reach of your video. If you have a seasonal campaign, clothing line, new drink at your café, or a new piece of software, use that campaign’s hashtag consistently in your promotions.
Let’s face it; we’re all vulnerable to social media algorithm changes. But that’s what’s great about social media: your creativity and knowledge can drive success no matter your budget. Get to work!