Instagram recently announced a major algorithm change that will dictate which posts are shown to users in their feed, and in what order. Once based on chronological order, Instagram posts will now be shown on the basis of “relevancy,” a score calculated by the algorithm. This “relevancy” is based on a number of factors, including how the post is performing (in terms of engagement) and will apply to organic posts as well as advertisements.
This change will be rolled out over the coming months, and will most likely bring significant changes to how successful Instagram campaigns are run.
Why is this change being made?
It is reported that Instagram is experiencing a drop in user engagement levels (2). It is thought that this may be due to increasing levels of advertising on the social platform, which can harm engagement if the ads aren’t utilized correctly. Likely, some amount of existing Instagram ad content has not been relevant to the user audience, who have in turn “voted with their feet” by paying attention elsewhere – moving on to other, non-Instagram content.
In order to maintain its continued success as an advertising channel, an engaged Instagram user base is key. Improving the relevancy of your posts and ads on the platform will not only keep your followers and audience engaged but will also help you better target your Instagram advertisements to your target audience. What does it mean for you?
As a marketer, and more importantly, as a smart digital marketer, it is more critical than ever to create relevant and engaging messages and deliver them to your target audience as an experience that encompasses your brand. Posts rated with high engagement on Instagram tend to tell a better story, use more compelling visuals, and are not “salesy”. With this change, it is likely that organic reach, where a user merely posts an image/message to their followers without boosting it with advertising, will diminish significantly. Ultimately, in order to reach your audience with some regularity and certainty, you will have to pay to have your content delivered.
What you can do to prepare:
Carefully consider the following elements as you plan your next Instagram campaign:
- Relevance – Relevance will be the rule in the post-algorithm change Instagram. Ensure that your advertisement’s message and creative will resonate with your followers. This is the first and foremost concern when developing an Instagram campaign.
- Goal/Desired Outcome of the Campaign – Decide upon a clear goal/desired outcome for your campaign. Instagram is considered an excellent discovery and consideration medium where you can build brand engagement. Instagram is generally not considered a direct response platform. Think more “show” and less “tell”.
- User Experience – What will a user who clicks on your Instagram advertisement experience after the click? A best practice is to drive your traffic to a campaign-specific landing page that “continues the Instagram experience”. This can often be achieved by providing additional engaging, Instagram-style content. This will generally mean building a specific post-click user experience to complement your advertisement and Instagram campaign.
- Mobile – Any Instagram campaign will be almost entirely mobile. How will the user experience be impacted by your site’s mobile experience? If it isn’t seamless and engaging, you may want to reconsider deploying Instagram campaigns until this has been addressed.
- Budget – As mentioned, the change towards relevance will mean that organic reach will be significantly reduced. Ensure that you have appropriate budget allocated to achieve your goals.
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- 1 – Instagram Blog Algorithm Change Announcement
- 2 – Instagram Organic Engagement Continue to Fall (Report)