As you may have heard, Instagram recently updated their algorithmic filtering from posting in chronological order to now, elevating posts based on a user’s behavior and interests as well as the content’s popularity. In simpler terms, this means Instagram will be more like Facebook and less like Twitter.
To get the inside scoop on how brands can survive the Instagram algorithm apocalypse, we spoke to executive communications consultant, Chrystina Woody, who has executed international campaigns with Samsung, Verizon, Xbox, General Motors, and Disney Consumer Products Group.
Instagram says that the reason they changed the algorithm is to make sure users do not miss the content they care about the most. However, Chrystina explains what we’ve all suspected about Instagram’s algorithm update:
“When a large company acquires you, for example Facebook acquiring Instagram, there’s an expectation that you are going drive revenue because at the end of the day all ‘for profit’ companies have the goal of making money. Although this new algorithm is being messaged as ‘it’s for the users so that we don’t miss out on content that we all really love’, I think we are all smart enough to know it’s ALSO so that Instagram can work with their advertisers and brand partners to target specific consumers based on their behavior. So we will probably see more target ads in our feed, but I think the idea is that they will be targeted ads that make more sense for the consumer ideally.”
Chrystina’s insight and expertise helped inspire us to identify three ways brand can work within the new Instagram infrastructure to reach their target audience.
Humanize Your Brand
First things first, brands need to understand that on social media platforms they are competing in the same playing field as our friends and family for our attention, so their content and copy needs to be more humanized and less commercial. Chrystina emphasizes the importance of having personal touch for the brand’s voice:
“So if you’re not highly evolved on the platform that you work with and you’re not engaging as a brand or as a person, then it’s not going to perform well. For example, a recent global technology company launched a Twitter bot with the hopes of participating in and leading online conversations and engaging with communities. This ‘bot’ yielded ‘bot’ results. In essence, the experiment did not go as planned and the bot fell victim to the worst of the worst on the Internet. Why? Well, at the end of the day you still need a human experience to guide the social conversation. That’s a lesson learned for all of us. Yes there are algorithms, data, analytics, sponsored and promoted ads, but at the end of the day you still need a person and a human touch point to drive it to the next level. Once you take that out of the equation you end up with a Twitter bot gone wrong.”
Understand Your Target Audience
Understanding a brand’s target audience is essential to a successful social media brand strategy, Chrystina explains the correlation between assessing a brand’s target audience and brand content when creating Instagram ads:
“First of all, an Instagram ad campaign can’t be your end-all be-all digital marketing campaign, when it comes to social. It’s a supplement to larger strategy. You need to think about creative, the story, where the content lives and how, why, when and to whom it’s distributed. It’s really important that brands understand that this is still a new model and relatively new platform, we are all essentially early adopters; patience is key, for the consumer and the brand. Brands should make sure that they really understand their target audience so that their targeted ad is coming up in the right consumer feed. As opposed to being a turn off.”
Even though the Instagram’s new algorithm might bury brand posts, brands can still utilize Instagram’s hashtag system to engage with their target audience. According to Chrystina it is important to note “Your paid strategies should supplement and complement your engagement and community strategy.” So by utilizing the Instagram hashtags that pertain to a brand’s target audience, brands can develop a more sophisticated engagement strategy. Here are four ways brands can develop relationships with their target audience:
1. ‘Like’ multiple target audience’s posts to show up on their notifications
2. Follow target users
3. Every 24 hours unfollow users who don’t follow your brand back
4. Ask to repost pictures that make sense for your brand, thus increasing engagement and featuring users
Think of developing a relationship with your target audience, as if you are building a virtual friendship. It will take time and effort on your part, but it will ultimately create new fans for your brand.
So how do brands beat Instagram’s new algorithm? Create content and engaging copy to humanize the brand.