When Instagram was introduced to the world in 2010, its posts were shown in chronological order. This meant, whenever you opened the app, you saw the newest posts first and then you can scroll down to view older ones.
Currently, they have amassed more than 500 million users with 300 million using the app every single day. This lead to the company being sold to Facebook for a cool $1 billion in 2012. Despite these numbers, users might not get to see every single post every day especially if they are following a lot of people. Instagram revealed that users miss an average of 70% of their feed.
So what did Instagram do?
They copied their parent company and introduced an algorithm reordering its feed giving users a more personalized experience. In short, photos with higher engagement (likes and comments) will be pushed to the top while other photos will still be on your feed but won’t be featured prominently.
“As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share,” the company said in a blog post back in March. “This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most. If your favorite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in.”
When the feature was first launched this summer, I thought it was going to be a good thing because I thought the pictures and accounts I like most will get pushed to the top so I won’t miss any of them. But I’ve hated it since the day it was introduced.
And I wasn’t the only one.
Many other users have been up in arms because they didn’t want the algorithm dictating which posts they were going to see first. People were furious that their feeds were not chronological anymore. When I follow someone on Instagram, I want to see all of their posts. I want to be able to check Instagram when I have a couple free minutes and come back to it later and continue where I leave off just like I do on Twitter. Instagram was great because you could see what was happening and what your friends were doing right this second just like on Snapchat.
Now, I see the same accounts because they post multiple times a day and those pictures get the most engagement while my friend’s posts are at the bottom (if I see any of their posts at all). One example of how the new feed is flawed is I follow a few sports teams and their posts are seen in random order (final score first, pre-game second).
Twitter introduced something similar earlier this year where they would show the best tweets from your timeline first but they gave the option to opt out in case users weren’t liking the idea.
What can you do?
Most changes are met with negativity at first (I.E. every time Facebook changes their layout) and without any way of reverting back to the original feed, users and brands must find other ways to stand out from the crowd. This means creating more engaging content so it is seen by more users.
This is obvious because people tend to like pictures that resonate with them in one way or another, no matter what the picture is about. Having a consistent feed is also equally important because no one is going to follow you if you haven’t posted in two weeks and/or do not have good quality pictures. Your goal should be building a great portfolio of pictures that will make new visitors follow your account and existing users like your pictures.
Having an engaging and thoughtful caption is sometimes more important than the picture itself especially if you are telling a story. One great example is the Humans of New York account where Brandon Stanton posts stories of the people he meets in New York City.
Hashtags are very important because it allows other users to find your account and posts. Use relevant hashtags to your picture and company to attract new users but do not use hashtags that aren’t related because it is considered spamming. Don’t know which hashtags to use? Check out images and accounts that are similar to yours and see which hashtags they are using.
Call to Action
Sometimes, all you have to do is just ask people to like and comment on your posts. You can do this by either asking a thought provoking question, asking people to tag a friend so they see the post as well, or just asking users to like the picture if they find it interesting.
Interact with users
To get your followers consistently engaged, you need to keep talking to them to build a relationship. There are many influencers like Brian Fanzoand Gary Vaynerchuk and companies like Buffer who consistently interact with their followers. This way, they will feel like more of a friend and will keep engaging with you.
Every account is different so to find success on Instagram or any other social media platforms, you need to experiment with different ideas and see what works particularly for your company.
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