Instagram's announcement of an upcoming adjustment to their feed that'll show you "the moments you care about first" has many marketers nervous. Despite multiple assurances from Instagram that brand posts will still be visible, brands haven't forgotten how engagement and traffic suffered when Facebook's feed underwent similar changes back in 2013.
Instagram hasn't announced when the shift will happen, but brands are already holding their breath and wondering if the time and money they've invested in the Facebook-owned platform will continue to pay off when "the algorithm" takes effect.
But what marketers should brace for is actually the very same thing that, according to Instagram, is already happening. In the blog post announcement, and in a New York Times article that ran on the same day, Instagram claims that users are missing 70% of the content in their feed already, which means even in this "pre-algorithm" era, most of a brand's followers aren't seeing their posts.
Since the new feed will almost certainly be driven by users' engagement and behavior on Instagram, it's even more important to grow an audience in an authentic way on the platform and to have a smart approach to working with influencers within the space. Here are four tips to help brands ride the new wave with the help of influencers.
1. Diversify, Diversify
Some brands are nervous because their Instagram audience isn't highly engaged - previously they may have lucked out with their placement in a user's feed, but the new feed might not give them that visibility. An Instagram campaign that leverages high-engagement influencers could help put brands back in the action.
2. Know Your Influencer
We have a few hints about how the new algorithm might work - between Facebook's feed and Instagram's own "Explore" feature, the new feed will likely privilege content that you personally engage with, content that a lot of people have engaged with, and content that's engaged with alot in a short period of time. What does this mean for partnering with an influencer? For maximum success, pay attention to who follows them, what their engagement rate is, and how quickly they're racking up the likes and comments
3. Many Over Few
Some brands focus on partnerships with a small number of influencers who have a significant reach. This approach may no longer be as successful - fewer posts means fewer chances to get in front of a user. A better approach for the new feed might be to work with many influencers to increase your brand's chances of appearing in users' feeds.
4. Love for the Little Guys
The Instagram algorithm might level the playing field between mega-influencers and up-and-comers. Previously an influencer's audience was the best proxy for how many users you might reach. But the algorithm could shake that up if friends, brands, or smaller influencers are shown to a user first. At Collectively, we've consistently observed that influencers with 10K or less followers have the highest engagement rate. The new feed could reward those up-and-coming influencers whose audiences tend to be more engaged, leading to a virtuous cycle of user exposure and engagement.
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