Earlier this summer, Instagram announced that it was making algorithm changes and introducing better tools and analytics for businesses. The reason is simple: There’s is a lot of content on the platform. With more than 500 active users and 300 million people accessing the app every day, Instagram is trying to make sure the most engaging posts have the most reach.

What does it all mean for brands? Amanda Jones, Product Marketing Manager at Curalate, held a webinar to break down all the changes. Here’s what you need to know:

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Companies will now have the option to create business profiles complete with a contact button, driving directions and links to email. Instead of having to click through to the link in a bio, customers will now be able to contact businesses directly — which is a big change. (Remember: Instagram business profiles need to be linked to a Facebook account.)

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Those profiles come with additional analytics that track follower demographics and follower growth. It’s very valuable information that can help social media managers and content managers determine what to post and when to post it. It also provides other analytics showing impressions, reach and engagement.

Instagram will also let businesses promote content more easily. Once you find something you like and choose to promote it, you’ll pick a call-to-action and specify your target audience based on demographics like location, age and gender. Then you can specify your budget — and based on that target audience and budget, you’ll get a lot of information about how that post is performing.

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Let’s take a look at a real-life example. Paige Denim, a Curalate client, decided to start advertising on Instagram. They turned to Curalate to run a two-day ad campaign where Paige determined which images most resonated with fans — before deploying even a single dollar of ad spend. That means they were able to drastically reduce costly test & learn cycles.

The result was that top-performing content was coupled with our Curalate Lookalike Audience, which is derived from Like2Buy visitors who have shown clear purchase intent by clicking through and learning more about the products in each of the images. The result was picture-perfect advertising that was highly relevant to the targeted audience. The brand saw 3,600 clicks and 514,000 impressions during the campaign.

What about Instagram’s new algorithm? According to Instagram, it’s meant to surface higher-quality content — meaning businesses will have to post much more strategically.

Ask yourself some questions first: What type of audience do you want to get in front of? Are you more concerned with increasing reach or engagement?

Really think about transitioning from “push” to “pull.” It’s not just the volume of content you need to be considering pushing out, because Instagram content is no longer in a linear, chronological order. It’s really more about the quality of the content. That’s the pull. If people are liking it, commenting on it, reposting it and engaging with it, it’ll rank higher in Instagram’s algorithm. This works double for your brand. Your consumers are engaging with your brand and that gives you an opportunity to engage back with them.

The detailed business analytics will tell you what’s working and what actually matters. When you think about your strategy, make sure you’re always coming back to this. We have these analytics now, so make sure you’re using them. Revisit them quarterly, weekly or even daily to keep moving the needle and refining your processes and strategy — what your pushing out and how you’re pulling people in. Most of all, take a deep breath, it’ll all be ok.

The Takeaways

Be authentic, relevant and inspiring. That’s what Instagram was based on — in the moment, user-generated images. As brands, we really need to make sure we are following their line of thinking and continuing that aesthetic.

Make your profile as actionable as possible. Make sure you’re compelling people to actually engage with you. Put calls-to-action in your profile. Above all, make sure you’re using Instagram as a vehicle for engagement, because that’s what’s expected now.

Before launching an ad, look for consumers with high intent. Like Paige Denim, think about how you can do some A/B testing with Curalate Lookalike Audiences. Don’t just spend your money trying to get reach when we know that the algorithm is really optimizing for quality. Do everything you can to learn more about your audience so you can be smarter about the type of content you are producing and curating — and ultimately pushing out.

Go beyond image-level insights. Identify purchase signals based on products in each post. Image level insights are great and that’s what Instagram is giving you. Do everything you can to connect those images to the products that are inside them. Intelligent meta-data that essentially turns this authentic, inspiring imagery into a moment where someone can take action. It means that stock imagery on your site that’s so smart and knows everything about your brand can now be turned into an inspiring image on Instagram that can link back to the products that are inside them.

Listen to the webinar here.