Instagram’s new algorithm and how to adapt your strategy
March 31, 2016
When Instagram recently announced planned changes to its timeline, making it algorithm-based instead of chronological, it caused an uproar among users and brands alike, who feared their posts would be buried far down in the feed and their reach drop dramatically. Instead of showing content sorted by the time posted, the Instagram algorithm will try to calculate what content users are most likely to enjoy, and not want to miss. To do this, the algorithm will take a number of factors into account: likes and comments obviously, but it is also likely to track more “invisible” metrics such as time spent hovering over posts.
What does this all mean for hospitality businesses currently using Instagram as a marketing tool? Many are worried that Instagram will go down the same route as Facebook, where changes to the newsfeed algorithm has meant that organic reach for business pages has gone down dramatically, driving brands towards paid advertising on the platform to have a chance to be seen by their followers and target audience. As Instagram is owned by Facebook, and Instagram ads are created directly through Facebook, it could very well be the case that the changes are intended to make businesses “pay to play”.
The changes are not happening overnight though; Instagram has stated that it will be “weeks, if not months” before the changes are implemented beyond a small test group, giving you time to adjust your Instagram marketing strategy.
So what can you do to ensure your business’ content doesn’t slide unseen to the bottom of your followers feeds? Quite simply, businesses need to post quality content that will engage their audience (which, by the way, you should already be doing!). Here are a few tips for driving up engagement, and optimise the chances of your posts being seen:
1. Engage with your followers This might seem like an obvious one, but make sure you reply to comments on your posts! Also, use the caption to drive engagement by asking a question or encourage discussion. You can also identify key followers, like their photos, and strike up conversations with them.
2. Behind the scenes content Make your brand more authentic by showing your customers snippets of what goes on behind the scenes. Letting followers see the people behind the brand makes it seem more human, and your followers are more likely to engage and connect with your business if they can put a face to it.
3. User generated content Encourage your customers to post pictures in your restaurant or hotel, tagging the location or using a specific hashtag. Getting customers involved means you’re reaching their followers too, and the more people engage with you, the higher the algorithm is likely to rank your posts. Also, don’t forget to re-post your favourites to your own followers – you get fresh content, and your fans get recognition.
All in all, take Instagram’s new algorithm as an opportunity to look over your strategy and make sure your content is up to scratch – if your posts are relevant to your followers, there should be no need for alarm.