How Instagram’s New Algorithm Will Change Influencer Marketing



Instagram announced a new algorithm which will affect the order in which you see photos. How will this impact digital marketers who work with social media influencers?


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Instagram is changing its algorithm. Gone will be the reverse-chronological feed that made it simple to schedule posts for maximum benefit. To replace it, Instagram has decided to use an algorithm-based feed instead. This simple change has the potential to drastically alter the way digital marketers and social media influencers interact with and benefit from the site.

How Does Instagram’s New Algorithm Work?

Instagram’s new algorithm will use machine learning techniques to reorder each user’s feed to show the posts it believes the user will most want to see. According to the announcement Instagram posted on its blog, “the order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.”

In other words, the Instagram algorithm will consider past interactions, not simply the time a photo or video was posted. Exactly how Instagram determines likelihood of interest, relationship, and timeliness is a mystery. Is there a minimum number of likes, comments, or views? Are some types of comments given more weight than others? Is timeliness determined by current events or location proximity?

According to Search Candy, a content marketing and blogger outreach agency based in Manchester, “it is a somewhat fuzzy concept … as with Facebook, their ultimate aim will be to show content that will keep users interested and on the platform.”

Like Facebook, Instagram doesn’t divulge its algorithmic secrets, which presents a challenge for marketers.

How Does Instagram’s New Algorithm Affect Digital Marketers?

According to Kevin Systrom, co-founder and chief executive of Instagram, most users never see 70% of the content posted to their Instagram feed. The change to an algorithm-based feed is meant to ensure that the 30% of content you actually see is the content you are most interested in — “the best 30% possible.”

To get into that top 30% for your followers, you will need to adapt your social media strategy to accommodate these changes. Remember those keywords mentioned by Instagram? To be effective — and seen — you need to focus on your content, relationships, and timeliness. In a word: engagement. That is your key to becoming part of the 30%.

It’s not all bad news for digital marketers, though. In general, brands already experience higher levels of engagement on Instagram than on other social media sites — 308% more than Facebook and 1,313% more than Twitter. Instagram’s new algorithm might let such posts sit at the top of feeds instead of getting buried beneath new posts.

While the site works on rolling out its new algorithm, look back at your data. Find posts that show the most engagement and examine them. What do they have in common — and how can you replicate their success? Do they showcase your company culture? Are the captions clever or captivating? Do people leave long comments or short ones? Do they tag other people and bring them into the conversation?

As you review engagement levels on your brand page, keep in mind that the most engagement your brand sees might not come from your marketing department or main brand page at all. It may come through social media influencers.

How Does Instagram’s New Algorithm Affect Influencers?

According to Experticity, influencer recommendations carry 22 times more weight than ones from average customers. Influencers, then, are a key component of any marketing and branding strategy, and they may become even more important to digital marketing as the new algorithm is rolled out.

Given its focus on engagement, and quality over quantity, Instagram’s new algorithm may help influencers — and the brands that use them — more than harm them. Influencers are successful in part because they have cultivated a large following due to the quality and personal nature of their content, which gets followers to engage in ways they may not with your brand’s feed.

“In theory, the algorithm should be beneficial to influencers because they produce great content that an algorithm should prioritize,” says Kyle Wong, CEO of visual marketing platform Pixlee. This prioritization may even help extend the reach of your brand beyond what you currently enjoy.

So while you dig through your Instagram data for posts with a high engagement rate, also look at what your influencers post and how users engage and interact.

If your brand hasn’t already started partnering with influencers, now’s the time to form those relationships and take advantage of their built-in engagement and potential reach. This could be the single most effective tool at your disposal for keeping your brand within the top 30% for your target audience.

Until Instagram’s new algorithm rolls out completely, it’s difficult to predict exactly how it will affect digital marketers and influencers. It’s clear it will prioritize engagement and quality, so you can prepare now by finding and examining those posts, and start planning.

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