If you’ve been on social media this past week you know that Instagram has come out with an updated algorithm. If not, that’s okay! Instagram and similar social media platforms use algorithms as a way to get relevant content to the user in a personalized way. When that changes, it affects the content creators and more importantly the users as well. We will dive a bit deeper into that later.
The public seems split on whether or not this new algorithm is a good thing or not. People argue that the new way people are able to see content is taking away from the smaller brands, businesses, and platforms that use Instagram as their marketplace. That’s essentially what Instagram has been evolving into: a marketplace for smaller businesses and brands to have a larger audience. On the flip side, if you are a content creator on a social media space then this is apart the job, right? Engagement is engagement and as a producer you need to create that content that will get more people to connect with your message, brand, and story.
With this algorithm, there is supposedly more exposure to the brands that have higher engagement rate or following. What this also could mean is that the percentage of followers that see your post will be reduced. If you are a smaller brands with less than 10k followers or even smaller (like me), this is a problem because you want people to see your content, your posts, and support it especially if they follow you closely.
I will have to agree that this algorithm does give preference to larger brands and larger platforms but there are strategies to get around some of these obstacles as a smaller company or brand. I don’t think it is designed to not support local or smaller brands but maybe I am a naive optimist about the intent that goes into social media. Correct me if i’m wrong or comment below if you agree with me or not! I am so curious to see what you all have to say.
Social Media algorithms can be pretty tricky to follow so bare with me. Basically, it’s a way to take the content you like to see + content thats similar + ads that you might find interesting + A LOT of other metrics to offer you the best feed that way you keep coming back thus creating more revenue for ads and improving engagement.
Social media giants want you to come back. They hate to see you go but they love to watch you [come back] (sorry Drake if I messed it up).
Algorithms are based on statistical data modeling and are used as a strategy to drive up revenue, offer relevant and interesting content, and also recommendations for what they think that you like.
If you ever Googled something and the next ad you see on Facebook is what you Googled. That’s that algorithm collecting data on YOU (the user) and finding ways to offer you what it think you will like the best. In addition to that, companies spend A LOT of money on advertisements on Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
If you didn’t know this already, Facebook owns Instagram since 2012. The social media giant spent 1 Billion dollars (yes, capital B). This creates a lot of $$$ for Facebook because nowadays Instagram is a marketplace. What that means is that ads, brands, companies, influencers (like myself) spend a lot of time figuring out ways to get the most impressions or user engagement on their page. When Instagram grows, Facebook grows. Instagram has also gained a lot of popularity in the past 6 years.
Here are some Instagram stats
- 96% of US Fashion Brands are now on Instagram
- By 2019, its estimated that Instagram will have over $10 billion in ad revenue
- There are 800 million monthly users and 500 million daily users of Instagram
- Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement in 2017 was the most liked picture on Instagram (11.2 million likes, DUH!).
Of course when a company acquires another there is an overlap in strategy, content, teams, etc. Users typically do not see the behind the scenes of what happens BUT we are affected by the algorithm, content, ads, etc that we see.
Overall, Facebook has offering its users with content that it wants to see because thats what keeps bringing people back.
How this affects users
Expect to see more ads on your feed. I know, super annoying. I notice that with every 2 or 3 posts there is an ad that follows. Then you accidentally like the ad because you didn’t know it was an ad then you want to go back and unlike the ad… We all have been there, right?
Instagram is becoming a billboard and it gets annoying very quickly. Sadly there are no ad blockers per say but you can go into your settings and turn off the types of notifications you’re getting.
If you haven’t noticed already there is a banner that is on your feed that says “Recommended For You”. This is pretty self explanatory but that’s another way the algorithm shows itself in a more apparent way. You can turn off those banner notifications by tapping on the 3 circles and then tapping on “Hide”. I hid mine because that’s extra noise on my feed that frankly, I don’t care enough about. Hopefully they will see that if a lot of people don’t like it, they will remove the banner altogether but we will see.
What this means if you are in the creator space
At the end of the day, ads and engagement shouldn’t be a metric of success. The numbers matter but they shouldn’t lead. Your content, authenticity, and desire to grow your platform are what really make you stand out. It also takes time.
With this new algorithm, you may notice a dip in your engagement. Don’t let that discourage you!! It’s ok. This is your time to adjust and find new ways to get your users and community back on track.
Explain (using InstaStories) that the new algorithm may affect who, when, and how people see your content. Turning on post notifications can be kind of annoying considering there are a lot of people that your followers want to see more content from so yours may not be a priority. Encourage it anyway 🙂
Use Instagram Stories in your favor!!! Every time you post something ad a little teaser to draw people into your page and your post. Don’t forget to engage with your comments and your posts. Try to respond to them within 24 hours (that’s my rule!).
Wrapping things up
Understanding why your social media feed looks the way it does is really important. As a creator you can use this as a way to grow and thrive. As a user, it’s important to be aware of these changes and understand that what you see on your feed is not by coincidence. There are teams of people behind the scenes developing ways to make money and get content that will keep bringing you back in. Most social media platforms use this and this isn’t something that is going away anytime soon.
Let me know what you think down below!
This is really extensive and informative! I really enjoyed that you broke down what this means from the perspectives of all involved. I’m
Hoping you’re able to use these algorithms and knowledge thereof to your advantage some day!
Stay tuned for a post on how to leverage your own platform using some of the data that you collect from those algorithms!