Why Brands Need To Be Careful About The New Instagram Algorithm

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Instagram has introduced an algorithm that reconfigures the order in which users see content on their feed. As a sister company of Facebook, the move was inevitable, but that doesn’t mean users are happy about the change. Instagram was widely regarded as one of the few truly organic social mediums available, and though this change will make connecting brands with users easier, it also has the potential to backfire if they feel like your ad is being forced on them.

According to Instagram, users miss around 70% of the posts in their feed, and according to a Forrester Research study, user interactions with brands dropped nearly half in 2015–going from 4.213% to just 2.261% of followers. This change was enacted to both help remedy that problem and to ensure that brands connected with more people. This change from organic discovery to artificial promotion could turn users away and hurt your chances to have a positive interaction with potential customers. Now when your brand seeks to make connections on Instagram, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Don’t Forget to Be Organic

By eliminating the reverse chronological order of the Instagram feed, many feel that the social media platform has become less organic. The change has compromised what they once loved, so it’s easy to see how brands could become the victim of disgruntled users. This is where it is essential to continue to think organically. Maybe the algorithm has changed, but that doesn’t mean the very nature of the platform was altered. Because of the reliance on photography, Instagram users are looking for artistry, beauty, and emotions over a message or staged content. The spontaneity of the moment captured in a picture or video is what attracts users, so keep that in mind when crafting ads or simply trying to update your brand account.

360i’s VP of social marketing and strategy Orli LeWinter doesn’t believe “Instagram will go full-fledged Facebook with its suppression of organic reach for content,” and force all advertisers into a pay-to-play model they can’t break out of. However, Instagram is introducing artificial promotion, which basically goes against the spontaneity of the platform. It’s important to keep in mind how your audience might take to you jumping into their feed when they don’t want you there because, as LeWinter believes, “The Instagram community is just different and expects a level of authenticity and accessibility that isn’t reflected on Facebook.”

Quality is Still Essential

Even if you’re paying to have users see your ads, it’s essential that you continue to stick to the rules of Instagram and keep artistry as a top priority. The advertising gold rush might be upon us, but “there are concerns about a stampede of subpar creatives, running counter to the high-def appeal of Instagram.” The initial impulse of the new algorithm might be to pump money into advertising and get your brand in front of the most eyes, but a certain amount of quality still needs to be considered. As Larry Lac, director of social media marketing at Havas Worldwide says of the issue, “the moment when an Instagram ad starts looking like a banner, the ‘unfollows’ will come.”

Instagram is a visual medium, so it is essential to continue creating content that meets the assumed requirements. Brands must consider if the visuals in their advertising campaign are worthy of the platform because the new algorithm will be able to filter out poor ads by serving users with only relevant and targeted ads. The more that users engage with the ads they see, the better the algorithm can provide them with relevant advertisements. If an ad is performing poorly because the visuals are not up to snuff, it would be eliminated from circulation, essentially forcing the brand to provide Instagram-worthy images that will keep users happy.

What the Future Holds

While it has yet to be seen whether Instagram will simply go with Facebook’s algorithm, or one that is wholly its own, Tom Buontempo, president of KBS’ Attention, believes there is a way to differentiate the two platforms. By implementing image recognition and location into the timeline algorithm, the mobile-first app will be able to create a much more spontaneous hierarchy of relevance determined by location and people in the pictures.

Regardless of what the algorithm ends up prioritizing, the move aligns Instagram with Facebook’s marketing playbook. As it follows its sister company’s lead, expect to see more social shopping opportunities, and an implementation of its own version of Facebook Canvas, which will allow users to make purchases right in the app. Instagram is catering more to brands than ever before, but as new functionality debuts, it’s important to keep in mind what has made the platform so popular up until now.

The Social Media Accounts Your Small Business Should Take Pointers From

Infographic_the social media accounts your small business should take pointers from

Many popular companies use social media as a tool to enhance their brand. Your small business might not have the built-in audience many of these companies have, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look to these bigger accounts for inspiration. Each social media platform has its own functionality and purpose, so consider which are right for you, and pay attention to what others are already doing.

For Images

Whether you’re advertising a physical product or selling an experience, Instagram is a great platform to showcase aspects of your brand through fantastic visuals. Regardless of what your business is, the company you should be paying attention to is National Geographic. Their 45.5 million followers is a testament to the amazing work they do. The pictures they post come from all over the world, so it can get pretty eclectic at times, but their success is proof that beautiful pictures have their own market.

NatGeo’s Chief Marketing Brand Officer Claudia Malley had her own keynote panel at Social Media Week New York where she talked about their success in social. Malley spoke about the importance of giving their photographers the keys to the castle on their Instagram account in order to let them dictate the content. Of course, it’s hard to follow in the footsteps of a company like National Geographic, but there is something to be said for giving your employees control over the content you push out. No matter what your company does, introducing personal perspectives humanizes your brand. Adding small touches like names or personal accounts to their perspectives keeps your audience engaged.

For Video

If you’re looking to create shareable video content for your brand, watch what Buzzfeed’s Tasty account is doing on Facebook. Buzzfeed takes advantage of the platform’s algorithm that favors native videos over third party content . Their content is made specifically for the platform, and exists almost entirely on Facebook. That means they don’t count on clickbacks to the Buzzfeed website, and you shouldn’t be either. If you’re trying to create content for Facebook, make content that will live there. You’ll find more success that way.

Tasty’s videos work well with Facebook’s soundless autoplay feature, and are optimized with fast-motion to make them easier to watch. It’s easy to see how much value they put into production. If you’re going to put in the time to create video content, make sure it’s well planned out, looks great, and has your audience in mind. Do they want to sit through a five minute video, or can it be turned into a more compact format? Consider your audience’s attention span, then create content that will keep them interested. The more watchable it is, the easier it will be to share. And while Tasty’s videos work best on Facebook, they can still be shared across multiple platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

For Customer Service

Good customer service is important, but it’s crucial for many small businesses trying to get a foothold in the market. Social media’s connectivity can make for a great way to administer customer service, but if you’re going to devote one channel to support, it should be Twitter. People are tweeting to brands more than ever, and 80% of customer service requests on social are happening on the platform. According to a study, companies that use social care services have improved year-over-year revenue per contact by 18.8% over companies without. The platform has proven to be a much cheaper and more effective means to offer support.

Having an active social media presence makes it easier for customers to reach out if they have a problem or need to ask a question. Many large brands devote separate Twitter accounts to offer customer-focused channels. Maybe your company isn’t ready for multiple Twitter accounts, but the lessons still apply. @NikeSupport shows how important it is to remain active and respond quickly in order to form a level of trust with customers. Accounts like @JetBlue are taking a more proactive approach to customer service by tracking keywords and relevant hashtags to interact with people even if they don’t tag them in their tweets. You might also want to consider following @TMobileHelp by letting your customer service specialists sign their tweets in order to provide a personal touch, and show your audience that there are real people behind the account.