Lask week, Instagram announced that they will be slowly rolling out an algorithm to help its 400 million monthly users surface the content they care most about. This was coupled with some important insight that, while not surprising, may be somewhat startling. On average, Instagram users miss out on 70% of Instagram content.
As the feed becomes increasingly crowded with content, it will only get harder for people to keep up with the images and videos they want to see. In many ways, Instagram’s algorithm is designed to fix that. Much like Facebook, the order of posts will primarily be determined by three things:
- Relevance (how invested you are in the content);
- Relation (your relationship with the user);
- Recency (the timeliness of the photo or video).
No Post Left Behind
Worried about missing snapshots of your besties at brunch? Leave your #fomo at the door. According to Instagram, all of the posts you’d have otherwise seen will still be in your feed. Just in a different order. A better order. Scroll down, and you’ll see.
And yet, I can picture it now. “It’s the death of organic social!” a mad mob of marketers will cry, pitchforks in-hand.
Woah there. Slow down. Breathe. While it’s true that Instagram engagement dipped slightly from 2014 to 2015—after all, there’s a lot more content to choose from these days—the mobile destination continues to woo consumers. Beyond that, there’s enormous promise in video. As reported by TechCrunch, video watch time on Instagram grew 40% since the end of last year.
While Instagram hasn’t shared any additional information around when their new algorithm will roll out broadly, according to The New York Times, these changes will be gradual, and less than 10% of users will be affected right away. Still, it’s important to be ready. To explore some of the implications of Instagram’s impending algorithm, here are 13 reactions from leading marketers, agencies, brands, and even a few folks here at Curalate. Scan the list, and then decide what it means for you.
Here’s what the market is saying:
“Instagram’s transition to an algorithmic feed was inevitable. You end up missing a lot of important content, and your content isn’t seen by the people you’re posting it for. This is going to make Instagram great again.” – Jason Stein, CEO, Laundry Service (Buzzfeed)
“I don’t believe Instagram will go full-fledge Facebook with its suppression of all organic reach for content. … The Instagram community is just different and expects a level of authenticity and accessibility that isn’t reflected on Facebook.” – Orli LeWinter, VP of Social Marketing and Strategy, 360i (Adweek)
“I am definitely reevaluating my content strategy with Instagram. Before, I used to look at our Instagram page as a thematic aesthetically pleasing story, but now with the algorithm update, I foresee changing my strategy to include content that will be highly engaging and optimized for our customer’s feed.” – Mario Moreno, Global Social Media Manager, FIDM Social Media for Business Marketing Professor
“I’m excited about the change to the Instagram algorithm given that consumers miss 70% of their feeds when it’s solely viewed in chronological order. This change will surface the best performing content and ensure that images seen are both relevant and highly engaging. It also means that brands need to think more about the quality of the content and calls-to-action that they are posting, rather than the quantity of content.” – Olivia Herron, VP of Account Management, Curalate
“Our strategy has always been to create content and dialogue on Instagram that our community engages with. The new algorithm changes will hold us accountable to that strategy, which is a good thing. If we aren’t focused on creating engaging content, then we shouldn’t be top of feed.” – Tori Tait, Director of Content & Community, The Grommet
“We are planning to layer in a more rigorous creative lens in our production and media-strategy planning so that we can create more interesting and unique visual form factors.” – Matt Lang, Senior Social Strategist, Rain (Adweek)
“If we’re creating content that is truly relevant and engaging for our fans, we hope that any algorithm won’t hurt our chances of reaching fans. … Algorithms were made to cut out the clutter, so it urged brands to ‘cut the crap’ in terms of content, too.” – Kevin Del Rosario, Associate Director of Social, Huge (Adweek)
“If you pay to create good, quality content, then pay to promote it. And don’t waste time creating shitty content. … It probably just got more important to ensure the quality of anything you post. Only the best will succeed.” – Chris Tuff, Director of Business Development, 22squared (Digiday)
“To compete with friends, celebrities, competitors and social influencers across Instagram, brands—now more than ever—need to invest in not only the content they put in front of consumers, but the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of consumer engagement. Whose content is garnering the most engagement? What content is resonating most? Where are consumers engaging with content outside of social? When is top performing content being shared/engaged with? Why are consumers engaging with influencers instead of brands? How can brands extend the life of top performing content and transform images into visual commerce?” – Devon DeBlasio, Director of Product Marketing, Curalate
“For many Instagram users, the update to their feed may sound like a big change! But even now, I find myself clicking directly on my favorite Instagrammers to see what I’ve missed in their feeds. At the end of the day, marketers need to be thinking about how they can make their content more discoverable on Instagram. This makes shoppable Instagram solutions like Like2Buy that much more important. By placing your featured content at your followers’ fingertips, you can make it easier for people to find the images and products they want – while ensuring that your content doesn’t get lost in the mix.” – Christine Blechman, Director of Client Success, Curalate
“Understanding your available inventory, how engaged your users are, what the proclivity is to purchase based on exposure – all of these things are really important to the ad business. Without that algorithm, they’d have a lot less control. With the algorithm, they can fine tune things.” – Brian Blau, Research Vice President of Consumer Technology (Gartner)
“One of the criticisms of other social media algorithms is that they artificially promote paid advertising content. … One of the reasons people love using Instagram is the organic nature of content sharing and compromising that may undermine user love.” – Matt Kates, VP of Strategic Services, HelloWorld (Adweek)
“Instagram’s decision to switch their feed based on an algorithm means that it is even more important for brands to ensure that their best content appears front and center in users’ feeds. What is more impactful for brands is that the algorithm should also increase user engagement with ads – ensuring only relevant and targeted ads appear in their consumer feeds. In other words, if you’re a marketer, it’s more important than ever to step up your ad creative.” – Justin Smith, Director of Market Development, Curalate
Despite a flurry of sensational headlines about Instagram’s latest move, the party isn’t over for brands seeking to successfully reach their audiences on Instagram. The moral of the story here is this: Like any good shindig, it’s all about the experience. Now more than ever, you need to double down on the details and demonstrate a deep understanding of your audience—the content they want on a channel they love—to keep them coming back for more.
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