Tech-Talk | Instagram and Algorithms

So this is the big news everyone is talking about online. Instagram switching from a chronological newsfeed to a curated algorithm based newsfeed. Being the tech-nerd I am, I've been getting a lot of people asking me what I think about the new transition. Most people are actually really shocked to hear that I think this is a good transition...and before you get all upset with me, I think this blog post will be a good read.

So far the new Instagram algorithm is going to be based on YOUR ENGAGEMENT! Of course, this will change, but this is where we are now. So the more you engage with content the more Instagram will think you want to see it. To be frank, I like this a lot. Because we are putting the social back in social media. When you post an image you have such a small window to get interaction on a photo since it is chronological. So if your ideal client isn't logging in at the times you are posting, they aren't going to see your stuff. Instagram states that only 70% of your followers will get time to engage with your posts at any given time. Which means you have to post often! And curate these beautiful images all the time...and what's the point of curating something beautiful if you post it at the wrong time...or you only get this small window of getting comments and likes on something you worked so hard on!

If you do not get a lot of comments or likes on your posts, you will be hurt by this new algorithm. But have no fear, here are a few tips and tricks on how to get organic engagement.

So how to get engagement?

The first course of action is to build a social media engagement group. That means to start a group that will inform that you are about to post and have them all engage with your post while you do the same for them. Having a social media support group can be really effective for all parties involved.

Ask questions in your posts, but be very direct. The more direct you are with asking a question the more likely someone will leave a comment. If they have to think about something or share a long story they will more than likely pass it up. Things like, "Should I read book A or Book B?" is a good direct question, better than something like, "Tell me about your favorite book?" 

Post things your ideal client wants to see. Does your ideal client want to learn more about your personal life? Are they interested in the books you are reading? Your recent client work? Where you get your favorite lattes from? Inspirational quotes? The more you post with the people you want to reach the more you'll reach them! 

Post consistently! Posting one or two times a day will keep you in the game, the longer you go without posting means the longer people will go without interacting with your posts. 

Develop a posting rhythm. Pick about 4 subjects you want to share and post them consistently. (This is combining the two subjects above!) So let's say you are a florist, and you have 2 adorable kids and also love to bake and an avid podcast listener. Posting a rhythm of floral inspirations, the actual floral arrangement from that inspiration, to a photo of your kids baking with you, to your favorite podcasts you listened to...can give you a wide range of content, and also gives people an expectation on what to expect from you.

Comment back on people's comments. If someone comments on something respond back to them. The more you don't engage with your audience the more than likely that will hurt you on the algorithm side of things.

How I feel about push notifications?

If you are on Instagram at all today you'll see posts asking to turn on your "Push Notifications by clicking the three dots!". To be honest – I don't like push notifications in general! I have all the push notifications on my phone turned off because I have dedicated times I check social media and my e-mail. If I was alerted by everyone I wanted to follow not only would I find that to be insanely distracting, but I just don't see people being so excited I posted something that they will stop what they are doing to leave me a comment. I mean I surely wish that was the case! But if you really want to have someone follow you, engage with them. One of the best advice I can give to you is  

Instagram is NOT about your followers, it is about who YOU are following.

So take some time out of your day to comment and like other people's posts. If someone leaves you a comment, go on their feed and like and leave a little love.

How do I know if this is working?

Track your engagement! They have wonderful tools out there that let you look at your Instagram activity. Iconosquare is very popular for this – and yes there are several others. You can also see what posts get the most interaction and try to post a post close to that once a week. Every small business owner will give you the sad song on how a photo of their pet or kids gets more engagement than their perfectly curated professional posts. That is because people like to relate to one another. 

So my advice is to be human! Be relatable – post things people want to see – be engaging – and be SOCIAL!

At the end of the day – this is FREE marketing y'all! Yes, Instagram ads will start becoming more and more relevant, and we are on the course to pay-to-play just like on Facebook. But building up organic engagement now will help you in the future when Instagram becomes more pay-to-play. Overall, I know that this sucks. I by no means have a large following or a huge engagement source, but the people who are around are amazing! I love commenting back and forth with my Instagram family. 

Also, don't put all your marketing skills into ONE platform! Platforms change, and what if the platform doesn't exist any more? Be strategic on your posts and how you market online! 

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask! I can seriously spend all day talking about nerdy things like this!