As featured in the August Issue of Badassery Magazine
I can’t deny that Instagram is a different place than it was just 6 months ago, before the complete rollout of the algorithm. However, I’m often surprised at how negative a lot of the chatter is. “Instagram isn’t a good place for businesses anymore,” or “You just can’t get new followers on Instagram like you used to be able to.” I don’t believe this is true. As a business owner, I also don’t believe in whining and excuses. Let’s figure out how to forge forward instead!
The bottom line is that savvy business owners that truly understand and follow social media best practices are affected very little by algorithms, and in some cases may even be helped by them. I’ve seen evidence of this with my own account, where engagement has not dropped, and my rate of new followers has actually increased!
If you feel like you are struggling in this post-algorithm Instagram world, the great news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are four things you can do to up your Instagram game and maximize your content in the news feed.
Share Quality Content
Blah, blah, blah. You’ve heard this before, I know. But let’s do a deep gut check here: do you really know what “posting quality content” means? It means posting stuff that your fans actually care about. It’s about creating content that your fans literally can’t wait to get to the next day. It’s so valuable that they might even go directly to your account to check and make sure they haven’t missed a post. Creating this kind of content is not the easiest thing to do.
A simple test to run before you hit the publish button is to ask yourself, “Why should they (your ideal client) care about this?” If your answer has anything to do with yourself, like, “because it’s my best work!” or “because I spent so much time on this!” or “because I had a great idea!” you should try again. Great content is always about your customer.
One thing the algorithm hasn’t changed is the importance of hashtags. There is still a lot of traffic to be won by using well researched, highly targeted hashtags. For now, the Explore tab in Instagram, where you would go to search hashtags, has the best of both worlds. At the top are nine “Top Posts” which are decided by, you guessed it, an algorithm. However, under that are all of the photos on Instagram that have been tagged with a particular hashtag, appearing in reverse-chronological order. Meaning, the most recent images with a given hashtag appear first.
People are searching for things that are important to them on Instagram. Follow my “Two-Word Hashtag Rule” to create targeted hashtags. In general, hashtags that include two words are more targeted than hashtags that are just a single word. For example, the words #children and #boutique are both extremely general, but together, #childrensboutique, they become very specific.
Help a Sister Out
While we don’t know everything about how the algorithm works, we know the basics of algorithms, in general. We know they are designed to reward the best content by showing it to more people, and to show the most relevant content in each individual’s feed, right?
One strategy you can use to give yourself a bump in the feed is to create an “Insta Tag Team.” If you are doing Instagram the right way, you have probably already become friendly with some like-minded business owners in your niche. Work together to like and comment on each other’s posts regularly in an effort to boost each other up in the news feed. It helps to turn on post notifications so you can do it right away and show Instagram that your post is so important, people are reacting immediately.
Move Your Fans Off of Social
So here is some real talk: this whole algorithm thing is always going to be an issue no matter what social media platform we are talking about. We see new social media platforms pop up all the time. When they take off and get popular, the amount of content shared goes through the roof! There just isn’t an alternative to filtering through the massive amounts of content without an algorithm.
It’s wise to diversify your traffic sources and not get too reliant on any one platform for making money. That said, do what you can to manage risk by working to get people on to your email list, or to download your app, or whatever it may be. You don’t own your space on Instagram (or insert name of platform here), but you do own your email or customer list, so work hard to grow it!