How can I get past Instagram’s new algorithm?
What has happened to Instagram?
Twitter and Instagram used to have one great thing in common that set them aside from Facebook – the chronological newsfeed. Instead of being bombarded by stuff that the social media channel THOUGHT you would want to see, you had the chance to scroll at your leisure and pick out what posts you wanted to engage with. That all changed last summer when Instagram introduced a non-chronological algorithm that was based on the complicated Facebook one that gave your posts visibility based on the follow variables:
Timing: The time you post. Simply put if you post at a less peak time with a lower traffic volume across the network you have more chance of being seen.
Engagement: How many engagements the post is getting. The more engagements you get the more the post is likely to be visible on other peoples news feeds.
Interaction: If someone has interacted with your posts in the past then it is likely that they will see your post in their newsfeed.
Let us not also forget the fact that Instagram and Facebook are now intrinsically tied together when it comes to biddable media. Anyone who has posted a Facebook ad recently will understand how easy it is to push your ad out to both. Now who do you think Facebook is going to give those oh so valuable newsfeed slots to? Struggling bloggers who constantly try and push out interesting content or someone paying them who may become a returning customer? Exactly. As frustrating as it is, it is unlikely to change. Within the next 18 months I predict Snapchat will actually cease to be the last social media channel that is independent and sell out to one of the bigger players to control their declining share price.
So what can I do?
Save from getting in a time machine and convincing Instagram not to sell out to Facebook there really isn’t much you can do to play the algorithm. Algorithms have an unfortunate ability to learn as they go so considering the new Instagram one has been in play for well over a year, it’s doubtful it is missing any tricks right now when it comes to organising your newsfeed by what it has ‘learned’ you want to see. There are a few things you can do to make the best of a bad situation. Most bloggers are probably already doing them, but it doesn’t hurt to share any tips you can get your hands on when it comes to this age of social media all being a scam to get you to pay for reach.
Focus on content
This sounds super obvious and like something that everyone who is trying to grow their Instagram is doing anyway – but the frustration can lead to an increase in posts that may leave quality falling by the wayside. Although it may seem like a sheer numbers game, posting more posts really will not get you higher up in that newsfeed. Especially if they are mediocre. Keep doing what you are doing and let your great pictures speak for themselves.
Include a call to action
In advertising a call to action is exactly that. A call for the customer or user to do something based on the content they are seeing. Yes, it can sound annoying to keep putting “double tap if you want more posts like this” on your Instagram but you really would not believe how simple the human brain is. A call to action puts the idea of engaging with the post in the users head which means they are more likely to hit the like button or leave a comment, rather than just scrolling past.
Use old fashioned advertising
Ok – this one is going to come as a shock to you. Did you know that back in the day people had to actually advertise themselves without the use of the internet? It’s mad isn’t it! What a world they used to live in. When the idea of marketing comes up now it is almost always thought of as something you do online. Although it would be pretty hard to have an Instagram without the internet (unless you went round taking Polaroids of peoples doorsteps and put them on your bedroom wall), there are ways you can build a following from offline sources. Get some cute business cards printed and give them out at every blogger event you go to. If you have met someone and enjoyed chatting to them they are far more likely to give you a follow.
Get the timing right
Now that Instagram is owned by Facebook and uses more or less the same algorithm, you need to start using practices you use on Facebook for Instagram. It’s long been known that slipping in a Facebook post on your page in the early hours of the morning can help it show in the newsfeed, so try it with Instagram too. Obviously you want to get your posts seen by the right people at the right time, but at peak times when there are so many competing posts it is highly unlikely you will achieve the holy grail of getting it into your target audiences newsfeed. Post at a time when no-one else is posting and you are more likely to get a few impressions, that lead to interaction, which boost your chances of getting up there in that newsfeed. Every single social algorithm favours posts with a higher CTR (click through rate), so even if a handful of people see it and interact it will help it to gain traction.
A/B testing is something us marketing and advertising people absolutely love to do to the death. Play around with timings, themes of posts, hashtags etc. Play two posts against each other with just one variable changed and keep going until you get all of the information you need to make every post a successful one.
Good luck huns! You can find me on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/kellyjackson88/