Instagram updateNobody likes change. Or at least that’s how it seems when a major social network decides it’s going to shake up the way loyal users can view their content.

Hot on the heels of Facebook and Twitter, Instagram has recently announced plans for the introduction of an algorithm which will sort and display your content by relevance as opposed to the time and order it was posted. The announcement has ruffled a few feathers belonging to users and marketers alike. But why are Instagram making these changes and how could they affect your content marketing efforts?

The answer to the first question is simple – there is just too much content out there. This popular and ever-growing platform has around 200 million users, according to Marketingweek.com, with over half of all users (57%) logging on at least once for a daily scroll. It has also secured 200,000 active advertisers since last September. That’s a lot of users waiting to feast their eyes on your brand’s carefully crafted content. The problem is that according to Instagram, the average user is following so many accounts that they are missing out on around 70% of their feed.

The new algorithm has been designed to ensure that users see more relevant content, breaking down the restrictions of time zones and ensuring that Instagram is as personalised as possible. All the posts users want to see aren’t going anywhere – they will just be shuffled into a different order.

The changes have created a few concerns for some content marketers. After all, when Facebook brought similar changes into play we saw a decline in organic reach and a rise in the need for businesses to turn to sponsored content. Users are worried that the change will mean less chance to discover new and exciting content, instead only gaining exposure to the more popular feeds. Additionally, there are those that argue the chronological experience of Instagram is at the heart of the social platform’s popularity – changing this will simply make the platform less distinctive.

Of course, we are not sure yet whether or not this new algorithm will be optional or not, so it’s tough to know what steps (if any) to take. However, there are a few tips that businesses concerned about how Instagram’s changes could affect their content marketing might do well to pay attention to.

  • Ensuring the focus is heavily on producing quality content is essential. It won’t just be about posting content regularly or at specific times of day anymore, it will be about how well your content resonates with your target audience.
  • It’s time to get creative (if you haven’t already) in order to secure the likes and comments you need to ensure your posts are part of the ‘relevant’ chosen few. Keeping a close eye on the competition is more important than ever to see which posts are receiving the highest levels of engagement so that you can adapt your approach accordingly.
  • It’s time to start re-considering your strategy if your brand uses linear storytelling on Instagram, as if content is no longer organised in chronological order, the linear story clearly won’t sell. Content needs to have the power to stand alone.
  • If you are one of the business’ feeling a little stung by the idea of this change, perhaps it’s time to consider changing the way you view the platform. Instead of using it solely as a tool for brand awareness, change your strategy to focus on driving traffic to your blog or website, providing value for your followers. Ensure your bio is well thought out with links to new posts on your site, and make sure that site is up to the job of holding your followers’ attention once they click through.

Ultimately, only time will tell how this new update will play out, but we are choosing to see it as a positive – just part and parcel of the general shift towards quality over quantity when it comes to content. Which is what we, here at M2 Bespoke, pride ourselves on.

Ben Hollom

March 23, 2016