Is it just me or are things wonky on your Instagram feed? By wonky, I’m referring to the shares, the saves, the comments, views, and likes. You know the kind of things that make you feel positive about the way you’re using Instagram to market your business? Well, my numbers have been decreasing and I’m all up in my feelings about it. If you’ve been following me for any length of time you’ll know I have long been an advocate for using social media to build a personal brand and a dream business.
I enjoy seeing how social media allows us to build community and share bits of our lives so that people get to see us for who we are.
Trust before sales, that’s the mantra I stand by in the online world.
I was excited when it was announced that Instagram’s Chief, Adam Mosseri, would be chatting about the platform’s algorithm in ways that would be helpful to content creators, especially those of us feeling a little stuck.
Look I know that everyone’s favourite trainers: Jenna Kutcher and Amy Porterfield have designed courses and content around beating the algorithm but I come at things from a different angle. I want to think of the algorithm as my ‘sista’ from another mother, my ‘home girl’ and I don’t want to beat her as much as I want to understand what makes her tick. (Yeah I’m not gender-neutral on this one). My goal is clear I want to get back on track with my community growth strategies.
Anyway back to Mosseri. He showed up to bust the myths that have been fueling our, ok, my frustration with the Gram. You can find his full blog post HERE.
Do you know why I think this is pretty important? IG has been testing a native affiliate tool that will allow small business owners to find new products on checkout, share them with followers and earn a commission for purchases. Read that again if you must but what it really means is that we need to figure out the algorithm to benefit from a sweeping range of promising changes that the Instagram team is working on.
How Does The Algorithm Work Now?
Well, first I have good news. The algorithm is not a bogeyman out to get us. (Relief!). A lot of times we complain that our posts are not being seen and the algorithm is the reason. “Not true,” says the Instagram Chief. Mosseri admitted there is no one algorithm. In fact, IG is really thousands of signals that indicate what is seen by whom. It’s how content is surfaced. We’ll talk about this some more, actually, A LOT because it really is the secret source to understanding the platform.
According to Mosseri Instagram uses “a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose.” The entire ecosystem of signals determines what you will be shown on your feed and how, when and if your content will be visible to others.
Turns out the “signals” Instagram uses allow your content to surface to others as well as signifies what gets shown on your feed. Ok! I know what you’re thinking. What can I do about it Judette!
I’m getting to that.
Here is a surprising thing I learned. I was shocked when I heard this but it really makes sense when Mosseri said it. You’ve got to look at your feed. I mean really look at it. Most of us are looking at 10 % of our feed. So we scour the top few posts and then switch to another platform. You’ve got to stop that. I’ve got to stop that. If you half engage you’re going to get half the results. So what I’m going to do differently and I want to encourage you to do this, is to be more intentional with my Instagram time. After I post, or whenever the time suits me, I’ll get on the Gram and …
Go deep. I’ll look at most of your feed, not just the 10% of the content
Get engaged. I’ll leave thoughtful comments on pages where my ideal clients are
I’ll share, save, tag images and captions that I find appealing and relevant to me
Instagram algorithm changes matter. Here’s why!
Let’s back to the IG signals. Those thousands of tiny signals are the rankers, and in order of importance here’s what Mosseri revealed are the ones you should be paying attention to.
THE POST ITSELF. Do you post on your Instagram feed when you feel like it or are you more deliberate with the timing of your post? I post every day but I don’t look at the data to see when most of my audience is on. At least I’m not consistent with it. But it’s the wrong thing to do.
The signals are looking at the times your audience is online. If you don’t know your top dates and times that your audience is engaging and you’re just serving them content at arbitrary times, then you’re starting from the bottom. This is important for you to note and follow through on. For your content to surface, Instagram looks at when it was posted, the quality of the post itself, how long it is, if it’s a video, and what‘s the location, if any, was attached to it.
RECIPROCITY. Mosseri says if you want people to see your post, you’ve got to interact with theirs Don’t love ‘em and leave ‘em. This makes so much sense and links back to my “go deep’ suggestion. Chances are the people you are seeing in your feed have interacted with you in the past few weeks. So IG will surface their content to you. And yours to them (once you’re interactive.)
“It’s the Law of Reciprocity People.”
One great tip I learned from the IG Chief; keep your relevancy score high.
Real Talk: if you’re a small business owner with an interior design company, then follow accounts that serve that kind of content (not exclusively but follow a lot of them), interact with posts on those accounts, and with fellow commenters. Don’t forget to niche your posts to your location or the location where you want the most attention. This helps IG to get a sense of how interesting people and certain topics might be to you. Their content gets surfaced and your role is to ….. TAAAA DAAAA … you guessed it. Go deep with them!
YOUR ACTIVITY. Mosseri says your activity helps Instagram understand what you might be interested in. So the rule of thumb here is no mindless scrolling.
YOUR HISTORY. This gives us a sense of how interested you are generally in seeing posts from a particular person. An example is whether or not you comment on each other’s posts.
While Reels have not yet rolled out in every territory, (T&T included) it’s good to know IG favors it the most because of its high entertainment value.
“We survey people and ask whether they find a particular reel entertaining or funny, and learn from the feedback to get better at working out what will entertain people, with an eye towards smaller creators,’ says Mosseri. “The most important predictions we make are how likely you are to watch a reel all the way through, like it, say it was entertaining or funny, and go to the audio page (a proxy for whether or not you might be inspired to make your own reel.)”
Humans Talking To Humans On The Feed
In summary, knowing a little bit more about the Instagram feed and the algorithm served as a reminder and a wake-up call for me as an entrepreneur and educator. I intend to make this knowledge a game-changer but if I was being honest, I knew all these things but still, there is nothing like a swift kick in the butt to get you back in the game.
Can all of this be intimidating? Sure, if you allow it to be but it is also an incredible opportunity to create community, connect with other humans in genius ways, and adds an irreplaceable level of humanness and uniqueness to your brand.
I need to up my gain. I post but find myself so busy on my other 7 platforms that I forget to truly engage.
Instagram is still a space I love. You essentially get to draw in your potential customers and spread your message in a genuine way. Best of all, it’s FREE. That is crazy when you think about it. But it’s also an awesome opportunity.
Please share this post with your friends who are building their brands on Instagram. Get confident and take others along for the ride. Comment below, if this is starting to make sense or is you’re excited about making the algorithm your homegirl too.