Instagram recently announced that it will be changing its feed algorithm. Many people involved in social media marketing, digital marketing, and content marketing have expressed concern regarding this shift. Today we will discuss what is changing and how it matters to your brand–and the future of digital marketing.
What exactly is Instagram changing?
The powers that be at Instagram are updating their feed algorithm. Much like Facebook’s newsfeed or Tumblr’s dashboard, the feed for Instagram simply dictates which posts appear when you open the application. Originally, the feed was mostly chronological. The algorithm was eventually modified to take engagement into account when determining which posts should receive priority. The new algorithm will focus on three elements: relationship, timeliness, and interest.
Relationship refers to the relationship a user has with the post’s creator. This is itself gleaned from their previous interactions, not from actual relationship. Here is an example: Deandra follows her brother’s new coffee shop, The Java Company. She wants to be supportive (even though she hates coffee), so she likes all of The Java Company’s posts, occasionally comments on pictures, and even tags them if she sees their brand elsewhere. Instagram’s new algorithm would consider these interactions and logically conclude that The Java Company should be prioritized in her feed.
Timeliness refers to the when the post was created. While a strictly chronological feed is unlikely to ever be an option again, the algorithm will take the time and order of publication into consideration as it determines the feed. Marketers must now pay closer attention to their posting schedules to be certain that they reach their audiences.
Interest is somewhat vague, but it is the most intriguing change. As with relationship, the algorithm factors in a user’s past engagement with similar content. Instagram will then analyze the content of the post visually using its image recognition tools. The AI will actually recognize and generalize images. Consider the following scenario: Charlie loves the anime Orokana Denisu! (Stupid Dennis!), which has an active presence and lively fanbase on Instagram. He often posts, likes, and comments on fan art of his favorite character: Yosoyososhīdesu Nakai (“Aloof Waitress”), the mech-piloting career girl. Given his engagement with posts that feature emotionally-distant baristas fighting monsters, the new algorithm would conclude that Charlie is interested in other content featuring anime tropes, like kaiju and mechs. It will then look for posts that feature artwork, screenshots, and other images similar to Orokana Denisu!, and prioritize those posts.
Note that these three factors work in tandem. The new algorithm will consider each equally.
How will this affect your brand?
If you’ve used Instagram since March 2018, you’ve encountered the new algorithm. Both executives and users seem to be happy with it thus far, so it’s probably going to stick around for a while. Instagram has seen user engagement rise, possibly because of the new algorithm: an average Instagram user now spends as much as 32 minutes each day on the app.
So how will this affect your marketing strategy? Since the algorithm is based on the behavior of individual users, many rumors have been debunked. For instance, the algorithm does not give preference to one format over another: videos get the same weight as static images. Likewise, the algorithm does not rate personal accounts higher than business accounts or vice versa. Finally, as we mentioned above, there is no discussion of returning to a chronological timeline.
No matter how the algorithm changes, one thing remains the same: content is king. Brands should still concentrate on creating amazing content. Customers will still seek out engaging content, regardless of any algorithm. Focus on crafting quality content, and your audience will follow!
Do you need help conquering the world of Instagram? Does your social media marketing strategy leave something to be desired? The Go Agency can help! Contact us today for a free consultation!