We all saw this coming.
When Facebook acquired Instagram back in 2012, there was immediate speculation about how long it would take before the feed that we all knew + loved would be subject to the same sponsored advertisements + algorithms that Facebook had become so infamous for. And, since we've been seeing the ads for a hot-minute, this news was clearly just around the corner.
I get it...
When I saw the article Instagram posted about the new algorithm it would be testing, I immediately got that not-so-awesome feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Granted, I'd just had a glass of wine + a hot bath, in a rare effort to chill out, but then this story popped up in my newsfeed + all of the sudden I could feel my shoulders start to creep up toward my ears. #notsochill
So, I totally understand the initial feeling of annoyance, sadness, frustration + FEAR. It's a pretty normal response to change.
But, my honest advice... do as I have, and GET THE HELL OVER IT.
As we all know, technology is changing faster than we can get our footing these days. It's the way it goes.
Instagram is a business. Facebook is a business. And just as we should be doing in our own businesses, they constantly work to create a better experience for the user. Also, they go where the money is. #showmethemoney 🤑
Wanting other businesses to buy advertising to reach their desired audiences or to pay to boost posts to more timelines isn't meant to annoy the business owners, that's just a side-effect. It's just a good business model. They've proven this with the billions upon billions of dollars that they've made.
Would you just sit on a plan to make billions, because some people, (who currently leverage your platform to make money for free), would be mad? Um... probably not.
If we are so busy consuming content on the daily, that we miss 70% of what's posted anyway, is it so wrong that they want to place THE BEST content in front of people when they actually do get on the platform?
The real question is... SHOULDN'T WE ALL WANT TO PUT THE BEST CONTENT IN FRONT OF OUR PEOPLE??
Like I said, I was pissed off at the news, too. Although, it probably had a good bit to do with the fact that I'd literally just finished writing out a webinar script + creating a slide that stated how the "NO ALGORITHM" thing was one of the many reasons that Instagram was so #AWESOME. womp. freaking. womp. (note to self- change that slide).
But, after I sobered up + got over myself, I realized that my entire mission here is to help you CREATE BETTER CONTENT.
That's the golden ticket, people. Your content, and your authentic engagement is necessary, (AND HAS ALWAYS BEEN NECESSARY), to your overall Instagram strategy. Simply posting something at "the right time", hoping to get in front of a few sets of eagers eyes has NEVER been enough to see real success on the platform. So, blaming a new algorithm for your growth problems is just a tired excuse to not work as hard. (And, you MIGHT just have to spend a little advertising moolah). #spendmoolahtomakemoolah as they say...
This change is an OPPORTUNITY.
Every single business will come up against roadblocks + hurdles. It's how we, as business owners, adapt to those changes + problem solve in those moments that divide those who will make it, and those who will fall victim to their circumstances.
So, how do we ensure we are the ones who MAKE IT?!
1. CREATE THE CONTENT YOUR AUDIENCE WANTS
Warning: I'm about to go all football coach/ Major Payne on you, because I can already see what is bound to start happening here. Now that we have this scapegoat called "Mr. Algorithm", we might feel the immediate sensation to blame him for the lackluster response to our latest post.
"UGH, because of this dumb algorithm, my photo only got half the likes it normally does."
Ok...but before we GO THERE.
At this time, Instagram is not taking your photo out of the equation entirely- as far as I understand, everyone who follows you will still be able to see your content, it just might be in a different order. So, if it's still there... the same number of people have the chance to scroll by it.
Instead of immediately blaming the system, ask yourself...
Was this your best work? Was it what your audience wanted? Was it valuable? Did you post it at an optimal time?
What if YOU screwed it up? #toughlove
This change is the ultimate OPPORTUNITY for us to take a good hard look at our current content and Instagram STRATEGY, (if you even have one), and really dig in to see if it's working. Sure, you may have a few more obstacles working against you now. But, if it wasn't challenging, if everyone was great at it, HOW WOULD YOU STAND OUT AMONGST THEM?
This is an exciting chance to level up your content offerings, and I, for one, am anxious to see how brands + businesses accept this newfound challenge.
2. TRACK + ANALYZE + ADJUST AS NEEDED.
Speaking of strategy... do you currently have a way of tracking your efforts + an understanding what is working for you, and what just isn't? What are your goals for using Instagram for your business, (to capture emails?, sell your products?, promote your services?), + how do you measure when an effort is successful on the platform? What do you do when it isn't?
Are you just watching that followers number? #uhoh
Watching that single number climb + calling that "successful" simply won't cut it. How is that number affecting your actual goal? You need to understand the analytical side of your account so that you can strategically post FOR your audience. I check my metrics every single week, and I adjust my plan according to what I find in the reports.
Is it super fun + exciting to read through the data? Uh, it's definitely not my favorite pastime. But without a program like Iconoquare, I wouldn't have a clue. And without knowing WHY I was using Instagram and HOW to measure that goal, what would be the point?
Setting goals + understanding how to measure success on Instagram are essential to continuing to leverage the platform for your business.
3. FOCUS ON ENGAGEMENT + COMMUNITY
I've said it before and I will probably say it a million more times. Instagram is a social media platform, so that whole, "get out there + be SOCIAL thing", is not just some passing piece of rando advice...
Nope, thems the rules.
You have to be present on the platform + spend some time building authentic relationships with people in order to use any social media channel for business. This isn't your own personal pop up shop, where you can just announce a sale, sit around with your wares + hope people stop by + check you out.
You have to GIVE, you have to SERVE, you have to SOCIALIZE.
Instagram's new algorithm is programmed to show you what it thinks YOU WANT TO SEE. How does it know this? My guess is it's been watching your habits already, (it's like Santa Claus- it sees you when your sleeping), and it has been building a profile of those habits based on what you double tap + whom you exchange words with on a consistent basis.
So we have to think about that as business owners, on the flip side...
"HOW DO I GET MY CUSTOMER TO ENGAGE WITH MY CONTENT REGULARLY SO THAT IT TELLS THE ALGORITHM I'M A PREFERRED ACCOUNT?"
How about YOU seek out + engage with your customer in an authentic + helpful way. How about you make your account indispensable to them by following my previous advice above - and CREATE AMAZING CONTENT. How about you analyze what prompts the greatest response from your current followers and then DO MORE OF THAT?!
Again, none of us know exactly how this new change will affect our feeds just yet- but the underlying concept behind any social media platform has always been + will always be for engagement, connection + building community.
If your followers feel a sense of community with you, if they feel connected, they will show you this with their likes + comments. This is Instagram's currency.
4. CAPTURE THEIR EMAILS
If you haven't heard, your mailing list is where it's at. If you aren't currently capturing emails from people who visit your website or social media accounts, you're definitely leaving money on the table!
Creating an opt-in offer like a free download or e-course is a great way to start building a relationship with those who would eventually be interested in your services. And, guess what!? There isn't an algorithm in your emails, (just a pesky spam folder monster that I'm still trying to fully conquer). 😜
THE BEST + MOST BENEFICIAL OPT-IN I EVER CREATED IS AN ACTUAL INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT!!
That's right, my little side project/ Instagram Challenge Community, called The Gram Gang, has more than quadrupled my email list in less than 2 months. And, so maybe this is why I am not as concerned about the changes, because I can still reach those people whenever I choose- if not with the actual Instagram account, then through their inbox or the Facebook group.
As much as I LOVE Instagram, I have not been putting all of my eggs in one basket. 🐣
And neither should you.
Use the link in your Instagram bio to offer your irresistible freebie + capture the interested parties contact info. If they miss an Instagram post, you still have the ability to reach them in this way. You could even start serving a round-up of your weekly 'grams via your emails, just in case they aren't seeing the goodness you've been sharing.
In fact, I might just start doing that myself... #greatideastephanie
So, I am 100% positive that as this whole "thing" rolls out that I will have even more thoughts + ideas on how we can use Instagram to leverage our businesses, even with those silly algorithms. WE WILL SURVIVE.
If you'd like to learn even more ways to strategically use the changes to leverage the platform for your business, check out Instagram for Business Bootcamp.
This 1 hour training walks you through the pros + cons of the new Instagram Business Profiles + teaches you how to use your account to grow your email list + make more money!!
So, what are you thinking about the changes to Instagram?!
Go ahead, leave me a comment + let it all out, I'm here to listen, and I will even talk you down off of that ledge if I have to.
What are pals for, right?