What the new Instagram algorithm means

If you are active on social media, whether for personal or professional uses, you are likely to have heard some of the uproar surrounding Instagram lately. But what is all the fuss about?

The image-based social channel recently announced that it would be changing its algorithm, which essentially means that images are now ranked based on engagement levels rather than chronology.

Brands big and small have been concerned that this would have a negative impact on their online presence. This is because users will now see posts from people who they regularly engage with – by commenting or liking their images – before pictures from other users show up.

For small businesses trying to increase their presence on social media, this could pose a significant problem. How are you supposed to engage with users if they are unlikely to see your posts in the first place? How can you create brand loyalty if you can’t even engage with your audience? These are valid concerns and ones that smaller firms may struggle to address but it isn’t all bad news.

If you know your target audience and are taking the right steps to engage with them, then the Instagram changes shouldn’t affect you too much, as you will already have built up the customer loyalty and advocacy you need.

On the other hand, there’s no denying that those who want to grow a following may find their engagement drops. But this might not be all bad news. The rise and rise of social media has meant that many brands are trying to keep a presence on three, four, sometimes even five or six different platforms. For a small business, this can be a massive time sink, and even worse, your efforts may not have the impact you desire if you don’t have the time to properly understand the audience you’re targeting.

This is part of the reason why Instagram has introduced such a significant change. Too many brands are flooding the social media website with adverts, and engagement has plummeted as a result. To the Facebook-owned platform, this means that it isn’t as profitable as it could be – especially compared to the likes of Snapchat – and has triggered a fundamental change in how the site works.

If you are overly concerned that your Instagram following will suffer as a result of the new algorithm changes, it may be best to focus your efforts on other aspects of digital marketing.

Having a comprehensive digital strategy, which includes a well-optimised website and engagement on the right social media platforms, can work far more effectively than trying to battle with Instagram’s new rules.

The old Instagram almost rewarded bad practices. With the newest images appearing first, brands that posted the most had the best chance of being noticed by users. However, the changes will mean that only businesses that have targeted and engaged with the right audience will prosper.

There’s no denying that the changes will make it more difficult for small businesses to grow on Instagram, but the new algorithm is there to try and weed out the spammy approach that some companies adopt, which can only be a good thing for digital marketers.

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