By John Stevens
Instagram has recently announced plans to change the sorting of posts to from chronological order to that which matches user behavior. This plan has received mixed reactions from users especially from Instagram marketers and businesses because the change will bring about a huge effect on how their online campaigns work on the popular photo-sharing platform.
Let’s take a look into the effects of the Instagram algorithm update by sharing a couple of advantages and disadvantages that this change might bring about, especially that majority of small to medium businesses rely on Instagram’s audience for promotions and even for ecommerce transactions.
Instagram will work the same way that Facebook does, at least in terms of sorting.
Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, is also a haven for sponsored content. Facebook already follows an algorithm based on relevance to the user – and this has been so for quite a while now. We cannot conclude whether this has been beneficial or not, but what is evident is that Facebook ads still abound and still reach their target audiences, if not better.
Ads can reach potential audiences better.
By matching user behavior to the posts that Instagram will prioritize, Instagram users will first see posts that he might actually take interest in. Instagram’s reason for deciding this change is that users miss out 70% of their feed. By optimizing content to be sorted according to relevance to the user, there’s a better chance for a business to reach its desired audience.
Users will miss your content.
An automated algorithm will decide on which posts to display first for a specific user. But how can it accurately decide on what is relevant to the user? Also, a user will not like the same thing every day. The old sorting would at least display all posts and would just bury old posts under new ones, but you can still see them if you are diligent enough. The new sorting can potentially block out content that the algorithm thinks is not relevant to the user but might actually be interesting.
Loss of engagement should be expected.
Until the algorithm reaches a stable state, and until Instagram marketers figure out how to optimize their campaign to work on this new arrangement, loss of engagement is inevitable – especially for smaller businesses. Small-time players from different industries which engage in Instagram marketing rely on regular posting in hopes that it can reach users who browse through the platform. Without much presence in the real world, they might just lose relevance to users and would be buried under bigger businesses’ advertisements. In order to compete with known brands, you will have to create more engaging content. Yet of course, these giants have an army of creative marketers and can surely do well on new playing field.
To be play well, analytics is needed.
In order to make it work with the algorithm that Instagram will follow, businesses will need to utilize analytics. Instagram itself does not have its own analytics tool. There are lots of Instagram analytics tools from other developers though. These tools are needed to measure engagement and from there, you will have to interpret what steps you need to have better engagement. It will now be a tedious process to market on Instagram. Aside from conceptualizing an attractive content, Instagram marketers will now need to ensure that what they have done will reach their target audiences.
Whether Instagram marketers and users alike will see this change as good or not, it cannot be stopped. Instagram will indeed transition to an algorithm based on relevance to user. It will be up to the businesses and their Instagram marketers to embrace the change and make it work for them. Whatever happens, we’ll see the results soon enough.