By now, we’ve all seen the uproar from the Instagram community about the algorithm changes that would affect which of their friends’ posts they would see and in what order, based on engagement and popularity. More recently, brands joined the conversation urging their followers to turn on post notifications that would alert them on their phones when a new post was published. However, the general feedback and consensus is that popup mobile notifications would not only be disruptive, but also, downright annoying.
Now, brand marketers are feeling content insecurity, afraid that with Instagram’s latest algorithm updates, that they’ll no longer reach consumers for free. There’s nothing new about this idea and unless you’re a brand that has been enjoying increased engagement metrics in oblivion and naivety, you likely knew this was coming…eventually. Oh, and remember when Facebook bought Instagram?
While many are anxious about the upcoming changes, there’s no need to fear them as content marketers have been here before. In 2014, after months of receiving only 2-8% reach on organic brand promotions, Facebook announced the end of organic reach. Simultaneously, Facebook’s own community (yes, Facebook does have a Facebook Brand Page) had been in an uproar of negative sentiment around losing control over the once chronological order of posts in their Newsfeed.
Fast forward to now and ‘paying to play’ on Facebook is the accepted norm among brand marketers. And, truth be told, the end of free, organic reach and engagement on Instagram may actually benefit brands, at least, those who are already deploying a smart social content strategy. If a brand is paying to play, regardless of the social platform, they’re more apt to make sure what’s being put out is the right message, reaching the right people at the right time.
So what’s a digital marketer to do?
1. Embrace the upcoming Instagram algorithm changes. Don’t fear them. If there’s one pattern to be recognized across social platforms, it’s that early adopters reap the benefits, which further exemplifies the need for social teams to be nimble, flexible, and adaptable. The good news is that brand marketers who have already set a high bar for the type of content they create and put dollars behind on other channels, can now apply similar thresholds for what constitutes quality content on Instagram.
2. Shift your digital ad spend mix to include Instagram. Now that Instagram ads are available to the general population through the Facebook Ads Manager and Power Editor tools, brands who are willing to experiment with the advertising options within Instagram will secure first movers advantage, better understand what their followers want, and be able to gain early insight into this new arena.
3. Use data to (actually) inform marketing. “Reaching the right customer at the right time with the right message,” has a nice ring to it, but in order to accomplish this, digital marketers need to actually dig into the data available through their social channels. Twitter is a great place to start due to the wealth of information the platform has. Marketers can use the Audience Insights from their brand page to develop a list of interests, fine tune demographics and better understand their community’s consumer behavior.
4. Never forget the big idea. The idea behind the content is just as valuable as the data informing marketing decisions. This has been the winning recipe for content across the web and it holds true for content across social channels. In an effort to get more out of each message, consider the purpose and individual goal behind each post before publishing.
Don’t despair, dust off the old social media strategy, and take another look with fresh eyes. This industry is always evolving—so learn to use it to your advantage!