What the Latest Instagram Algorithm Update Means for Your Business
In a recent article, we went over the updates to Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. When those updates were released, Instagram also implemented a new algorithm update.
Since the implementation of the newest algorithm, users, influencers, and businesses alike have noticed a significant drop in engagement on their posts. Even though Instagram has hidden the like count in Canada for some accounts, it can still be disheartening for some to see their posts not performing as well as they’d like.
To help you understand what is going on and help you leverage the new algorithm updates, we’ve done some research on how you can increase your engagement.
Instagram Wants People to Stay on the App Longer
If you haven’t noticed, Instagram’s latest features that were released share a common element – they aim to keep people on the app for a longer period of time. Now, why is this important to Instagram?
They want you to stay on the app longer because the more time you spend browsing through content on the app, the more sponsored posts and advertisements you will see, and that makes Instagram more money. It’s as simple as that!
When Instagram first released the ability to post videos, you were only able to upload 15-second clips. That has been replaced by minute long videos and the ability to add multiple 60-second clips to a single post. In addition to video posts, Instagram’s IGTV feature allows some accounts to post videos that are up to 60 minutes long. Instagram went from being an app that was utilizing small, bite-sized content for mobile to the vertical format equivalent of YouTube.
Do you see a common trend here? We sure do! Instagram still understands the value of bite-sized content for mobile. Instagram stories are still a maximum of 15-seconds in length, and they are one of the most engaging ways to share short-form content with your Instagram audience.
How to Garner Longer Engagement on your Instagram Content
It has been speculated that by getting people to spend more time viewing your Instagram content and more time on the app, you will be rewarded with more impressions for your content. By posting longer videos, writing longer captions, adding more content to keep people engaged longer, and creating quality content, you will see an increase in engagement on Instagram.
What is Your Instagram Audience Interested in?
Another trend we’ve noticed with the latest Instagram algorithm update is a focus on what users are interested in. This was likely a change Instagram made in an attempt to improve the overall user experience by prioritizing content you’re interested in over other things in your feed. Because of this change, it’s essential to create content that your Instagram audience actually wants to see in order to build more engagement.
Although it’s important to create some long-form content to keep people engaged longer, it means nothing if it doesn’t catch their attention. To figure out how to catch their attention, you will need to do a little research to see what your audience is actually engaging with.
The Instagram Following Tab
To determine this, you can navigate to your notifications, then swipe right to see what your audience is interacting with. The following tab in your notifications will display what posts your followers are liking, commenting on, and the accounts that they have started following.
Now, what is the value of being able to see this data? The fact that you can figure out what kind of content your audience is interacting and engaging with, allows you to fine-tune your content to align with your followers’ preferences. This can help you dial in what kind of content you should be creating. Scroll through the activity feed and take note of the style of posts you see your audience liking and commenting on. Do they like text posts, travel photos, people photos, faces, food, or animals? Whatever it is you see the most of, take note.
Creating Content to Boost Instagram Engagement
Once you’ve got an idea of what your followers are interacting with, it’s time to take a look in the mirror. Is your content compelling or is it something your followers are seldom engaging with? If it’s the latter, it’s time to give your content a makeover.
Remember, for some people, following an Instagram account is actually a big commitment. Some users only want to see the stuff they really care about in their feeds. They’re not going to follow an account they feel is irrelevant to their interests. To avoid this and win back those likes and comments, we need to give them the kind of content they want to see to keep them engaged.
The algorithm looks at the posts your followers have commented on, the posts they’ve liked, things they’ve sent in a direct message, stories they have watched, and the things they have viewed multiple times to determine what they are interested in. If you can create content that elicits that kind of a response from your audience, your content will appear at the top of their feed when they open the app.
The Instagram Algorithm Update Is Based on Timeliness
Instagram prioritizes newer content over older content with its latest algorithm update. In this case, new content isn’t just content that was posted that same day, it would be content posted within a short time of when the user opened the app.
To give you an example, let’s say you post something at 8 am. When you look at your analytics, you can see that your audience is actually the most active at 10 am. Even though you only posted two hours before your audience logged on, your content is still going to be pushed out of their feed by the newer posts that were posted just before the user logged on.
Use the WhenToPost App to Find Out When to Post
It is important to post right when your Instagram audience is online, but how do you figure out when they are online? Instagram’s analytics only gives you a basic idea by showing traffic in hourly intervals. To get a better sense of what time to post, check out the app WhenToPost.
It tells you exactly when your audience is online everyday and it even has a timer to tell you when the next best time to post will be. WhenToPost gives you all of the information you need to make sure every post you make goes out at the optimal time.
The New Algorithm Update Is Focused on Instagram Relationships
In the F8 keynote, Facebook and Instagram execs announced that the platforms were aiming to bring people closer together, with a focus on the people that matter the most in your life. That being said, the new Instagram app has a strong focus on relationships between users.
Regardless of how many people you follow or what you are interested in, you should always see posts from your best friends and family first. But, how does Instagram know who you care about the most? They can tell by the relationship you have with one another within the app itself.
How does Instagram Figure out Who has a Strong Relationship?
The app looks for people that commonly send each other direct messages, tag each other in comments, view each other’s stories, reply to them, tag each other in posts, and other forms of interaction. Instagram’s latest algorithm update looks for strong two-sided Instagram relationships and prioritizes that content over everything else in a user’s Instagram feed.
Now, how do you build relationships with your audience to ensure they see your content regularly? It’s simple; you need to make social media social again. To build relationships with your audience, you actually need to interact with them. We recommend spending at least ten minutes a day going through your feed to leave comments, respond to direct messages, tag a few people in comments and treat your audience like friends.
Include a Relationship Building Call-to-Action in Your Posts
Another good tactic is to use a relationship building call-to-action with your posts. Sometimes, leaving a comment on things in your feed can be difficult when running a business account. Most business account admins can likely relate; it feels strange randomly commenting on posts as your business. To get around this, a simple “double-tap if you agree” or “tag a friend in the comments” in your caption can go a long way to build relationships and create more engagement.
How Often Are You Posting Instagram Content?
Posting Too Little
One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make is not posting Instagram content often enough.
If you post too little, your audience may forget that you exist. Periodically posting quality content is a great way to stay top of mind with your audience. Think of it this way, if you were in the market for something and you had seen a business posting about a product or service you need regularly, who are you going to think of first? With that in mind, it’s important to post regularly and ensure your audience remembers you when they need you.
In terms of Instagram engagement, if users aren’t regularly engaging with something, it’s less likely they will actually see the content in their feeds with the latest algorithm update. If they don’t see your content, you will definitely experience a significant drop in engagement.
Posting Too Much
On the other hand, posting too much can be detrimental to your Instagram engagement as well. Think about this from a user’s perspective – when you open up Instagram, you’re going to want to see a variety of posts in your feed.
If every other post is from the same business, you might be annoyed by how much they post. That being said, if a user is annoyed by how much you post, they aren’t going to engage with your content, and it will be very unlikely that your content will appear in their feed if that happens.
How Often Should You Post?
How often a business should post is pretty subjective to the type of business itself. Does your business have a ton of content, or is it difficult to create? Does it have a good variety of content as well? These are important questions to ask.
If your business doesn’t have a lot to post, you won’t be able to commit to posting quality content every day for the next six months. Every other day or even a weekly post is okay if you’re posting quality content that your audience will actually engage with.
Are You Using the Right Instagram Hashtags?
Another common mistake we see businesses make is not using hashtags correctly. There has been a lot of debate about hashtag use and how many a business should use. In our mind, there’s nothing wrong with using hashtags, and you should be using all of the available 30 hashtags with every post so long as they are relevant.
Getting Into the “Top Posts” Section of Hashtag Feeds
Not all hashtags will actually be beneficial to your post and give your business more exposure. The main goal you should be aiming for with hashtag use is earning a spot on the “Top Posts” section of a hashtag feed.
To give you some context, think of how often people upload posts using a specific hashtag. On some of the larger posts, people upload posts almost every second. If you’re using a tag with a larger audience, your post won’t be visible for long, and it’s unlikely you’ll get a “Top Posts” feature for more exposure.
To remedy this, you need to find hashtags with a small enough volume for your posts to rank in the “Top Posts” section and ones that don’t get used quite as often. This will give your posts a better chance of earning more exposure and engagement.
Use Instavast to Help Determine Which Hashtags to Use
The next question is, how do we figure out which hashtags to use? We recommend using a hashtag generation tool. One of the better ones we’ve found to help you find hashtags for your post is Instavast’s hashtag generator.
Instavast will create a batch of tags for you after you enter a keyword that is related to your post. The hashtags it generates also show the post volumes on each hashtag. To maximize visibility and give you a better chance of earning a spot on the “Top Posts” section of the tag feed, aim to use tags with less than 500,000 posts.
With Instavast’s interface, you can select which tags from the batch you want us then copy them to your clipboard. It’s that easy!
Switch up Your Instagram Hashtags
Another important consideration to make is that Instagram will actually shadowban your account if you use the same hashtags too often. You can read more about the Instagram shadowban in this blog post.
To avoid being shadowbanned, we recommend switching up your hashtags or coming up with a topical hashtag strategy so you can mix things up. For example, if you post about a few topics within your niche, have a set of hashtags for each topic. Cycling through hashtags by topic is a great way to avoid having your account shadowbanned.
That’s a Wrap!
Well, there you have it! These are the implications the latest Instagram algorithm update is going to have on your businesses social strategy. The main takeaways here are that you need to create engaging content, deliver it in a timely manner, and do your best to build a relationship with your audience. If you stick to those principles when planning out your social strategy, your Instagram business account will thrive. As always, if you need help with your social media strategy, Konstruct is here to help.
Updated: October 22, 2021