As our online network of friends continues to expand, social media companies and their newsfeeds transform and evolve as well.
On March 15th 2016, Instagram, the fastest growing social media network, announced their latest update: an algorithm-based, personalised newsfeed. This means that photos and videos will no longer appear in chronological order, rather, appear based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.
The update has led to a plethora of criticisms amongst users, with many being furious with the changes. High profile Instagram users, celebrities and large online brands are worried that the update will affect their online presence, detracting attention and reducing engagement with followers. An online petition, called ‘Keep Instagram Chronological’ has also emerged, attracting over 325,000 signatories.
At the heart of this change is the fact that on average, most users miss 70% of their newsfeed. The new feature is intended to proactively improve this by allowing you to “see the moments you care about first”. Kevin Systrom, Instagram co-founder, said that the update is designed to ensure that what “the 30% users see is the best 30% possible”.
The backlash has one common call to action: “turn me on”. Followers are able to turn on notifications to ensure that they are notified when a particular user posts. The issue with this is that even for users who are interested in the content, nobody wants to be bombarded with notifications every time their favourite brand posts an image. With celebrities and large social media brands posting images prompting users to turn their notifications on, it becomes increasingly evident just how powerful Instagram is in engaging with followers, generating leads and building relationships.
So, what does this mean for marketers?
Firstly, it is important to note that the algorithm-based newsfeed will not necessarily detract from your Instagram efforts. If your business currently has high-level engagement amongst followers, they will still be updated with your latest posts. Instagram will recognise your posts as relevant and important to those followers. Also, users who constantly interact and engage with your business are advantaged, as your posts will be filtered upwards, allowing them to focus on what is important to them, your business.
Furthermore, if certain followers aren’t currently viewing with your Instagram posts, then even if your posts aren’t recognised as important to them, will this negatively affect your online engagement? No.
If your current social media engagement is low, now is the perfect time to build your brand awareness on Instagram. It is important to remember that people come to Instagram for inspiration. Advertising on Instagram has the power to move people, inspiring people to see a business differently or take action. The question is, how do businesses build their brand awareness and increase their level of engagement?
Caution! Businesses should not respond to the update by simply adding more content. This will not lead to higher user engagement. Rather, focus on creating posts that are likely to have high-level interaction. Connect with followers on a personal level, respond to comments and use calls-to-action to invite others to engage with you.
The most successful businesses on Instagram share well crafted content that’s on-brand.
It is vital to establish a well-defined brand and keep this image consistent across campaigns. Your business should be recognisable. With one look of your posts, a consumer should know exactly who you are and what value you have to offer them.
Businesses must craft high quality content. Tell your story through beautiful, interesting and artistic imagery. As they say, ‘a picture tells a thousand words’. Make your thousand words a true reflection of your brand and your unique value proposition. Tell your story through Instagram. Keep captions short, precise and remember to use hash tags effectively.
The changes to Instagram have, and will continue, to spark concern for social media users and influencers. However, Instagram is a business, and as we all know, businesses grow and evolve. The exponential growth of this social media platform has allowed brands to successful engage with their audience in a different way, and will continue to do so, if your business can develop and maintain an effective social media strategy.
Get kicked started with your social media marketing! https://business.instagram.com/gettingstarted/
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I think that as a medium for raising awareness and gaining popularity this new feature of Instagram is more likely to harm smaller participants. What I am wondering is whether smaller businesses can still gain brand awareness through the "explore posts" section of Instagram or be recommended as a suggested account to follow when a user follows a similar brand. I also think that the added feature of turning on notifications can allow brands to identify the true promoters (advocates) of their brand. Perhaps this can be utilised in some way in terms of eWOM.
Sounds pretty similar to what Facebook has done I wonder if there will be a pay to promote to your followers feature, seperate to promoted posts which go on anyones wall, in the works as well. Good advice not to just spam users in the hope that something will get through I can't stand when businesses overpost on Instagram clogging up my feed.
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