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Instagram Algorithmic Feed Change- What it Means for Social Media Marketers

by Amy Mortensen on March 21, 2016

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In a move marketers say was inevitable, Instagram is moving to a feed in which an algorithm will reorder pictures and videos based on users' interests.

This news has caused the internet to collectively panic and although time can only tell what the repercussions will be I recommend you not freak out.

Seriously, Don’t Panic

If you’ve been in the social media marketing world for a while, then this is not your first rodeo but for those of you who may be experiencing the switch to an algorithmic feed, my advice is “don’t panic”.  

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Instagram’s news feed update is not the first and will most likely not be the last. Facebook was the first to adopt this strategy way back in 2009. Twitter recently added it as an option this year. Panic ensued around both of those changes but the sky has not fallen as predicted.

You will need to make some adjustments to your Instagram strategy but the good news is that this change should work in your favor. The change to the feed is designed to strengthen user experience, but it should also help brands reach their goals as well. The problem with the reverse chronological feed order is that it buries posts as newer content fills up the feed.  Instagram in particular,  noted that users were missing an average of 70% of their feeds.  This problem is most pronounced for users who do not log into their accounts frequently.

How to Adjust Your Instagram Strategy

Foster Engagement

This change means the content that people are most interested in will rise to the surface so followers who regularly engage with your content will do it more often. This has the potential to keep your brand at the forefront of the feeds of your strongest supporters, thank them for their likes and comments. The more active you are, the more active they’ll become.

Increase Content Quality

Your focus should be on content that people want to engage with, don’t tell them to. If it’s not relevant, high-quality content—don’t bother. Don’t ask for likes or double taps, it looks desperate and spammy. Do your audience research and invest in quality design tools.

Actively Build Relationships

Your relationship with your followers will have an impact on whether your content is surfaced first. Follower count is not the most relevant audience gauge. If you don’t already have one, you’ll want to decide on a “follow” strategy to ensure that your target audience has the best chance of seeing your content.

An Influencer Strategy is Crucial

Influencer marketing has become a major part of Instagram marketing, and this change will most assuredly increase it. It’s likely that influencers will show higher in feeds due to the level of engagement they create among users with similar tastes.

Include a Paid Strategy

As seen on other networks, the move to an algorithm will arguably hinder organic reach. This simply means that you will have to incorporate a paid strategy alongside your organic strategy. These days, paid and organic social strategies need to work together. If you’re missing either or they live in silos, then big opportunities are passing you by.

Just remember, that this change is not the end of the world. Be prepared to make some adjustments to your strategy and continue to focus on delivering high-quality, relevant content to your target audiences. In these times of change, it's a good idea to monitor closely what other brands in your industry are doing to stay relevant. Social media is not a static landscape, keep learning and growing so you’ll be ready for the next change when it inevitably comes.

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