Philippa Dods, Marketing Coordinator, Meltwater shares tips and insights to help brands and agencies work their way around the updated Instagram Algorithm.
Instagram has updated their algorithm again but this time, it is a game changer for many users.
With promises of reduced visibility of up to 90% of your followers, not paying attention to these changes could mean a significant difference in how your brand performs online. For individual users building their personal brand, it could mean the end of the road (sorry, Instagram models). As a brand, if you don’t note the changes and how it will impact you, you’ll soon be forgotten by the masses.
As Instagram shifts their focus, it is essential for its users to shift theirs as well.
For this reason, we took a deep dive into how exactly the algorithm was changed, what this means for your business and what you can do to maintain your visibility on Instagram.
Note: Many of these updates come as a major blow to frequent users. But remember, it’s only to ensure Instagram remains an app that people enjoy using, free from troll accounts and spammers.
Unleash the 90%
Instagram will now only show your content to 10% of your audience. Not just any 10%, but the 10% that are most engaged with your content. In other words, if you have one hundred followers, your top 10 most engaged followers will see your content in their feed.
Top Tip: By engagement, we mean likes (minor engagement) or comments (more engagement). An impression is eyes on your content or views – so people who scrolled past your content but didn’t like or comment.
Essentially, how to get your content seen on Instagram is by getting likes and comments. If your 10% of most engaged followers like and comment on your posts, it will be “unleashed” to the other 90%. Just like the “snowball effect,” the more engagements you have, the more you’ll get. Consequently, if your followers are simply scrolling past your content and not interacting, Instagram won’t care – your followers need to engage. This will become very important when planning your social media marketing strategy – how striking are your posts, and are you asking questions in your captions?
Quick Response Time
You need to reply to the comments you receive on your posts within one hour. Lack of response or slow response time will lead to decreased visibility of your posts and of your hashtags. Engagement stems further than just receiving comments – get into the habit of replying to them in under sixty minutes, too.
Essentially, the more engagement you have, the more relevant your post will be on the platform. And as engagement increases, so does the visibility of your post.
Length of Engagement
Just a quick reply won’t count anymore.
Even if you’re trying to get all your replies to comments posted in less than an hour, responses will only count from now on if they’re longer than three words. Instagram wants both comments and replies to comments to be substantial – so commenting just an emoji or “I love it” won’t count towards your engagement anymore.
Your followers will have to comment four words or more to ensure your visibility doesn’t decrease.
Instagram used to cap hashtags at 30 per post. This led to mass hashtagging and some pretty ugly captions. Then users discovered that you can break the lines with full stops and add the hashtags under the “Read More” line break in the caption. But that didn’t look great either. Until recently, accounts have been adding their hashtags to the first comment, separate to the caption – and this worked well, posts were still seen. Until now.
Instagram does not count hashtags in your comments as engagement anymore. Plus, you’re only allowed to add five per caption.
This. Changes. Everything.
It’s now critical to make sure your hashtags are super-specific and relevant to each post.
Stories to Carry More Weight
All these algorithm updates make it seem as though Instagram is simply making it more difficult for anyone to be seen. But this one is an update that has us all breathing a communal sigh of relief, and is here to increase, instead of decrease, our visibility on Instagram.
Stories are going to carry more weight in terms of engagement, as Instagram recognises Stories as gaining organic reach and growth. The algorithm likes people that connect with other people, and Instagram has realised that if you’re using Instagram Stories, this is probably your primary objective.
Make the most of this by jumping onto Instagram Stories immediately, if you aren’t already making use of it. For more information on the importance of ephemeral content and how to take advantage of it – watch this Webinar on how to boost your brand with social media stories.
No More Edits
Making edits to your post once it’s gone live, is now the wrong thing to do.
The new algorithm will perceive any edits as negative, which will lead them to give your post decreased visibility. If you make a mistake in any part of your post, whether the image, video or caption, it is better to just delete the post, and republish the new content to your page again.
Bonus Tip: You can now schedule posts directly to Instagram, as well as all your other social media networks, with Meltwater Engage – learn more here.