If I had a dollar for each time somebody asked me about the ‘algorithm’ – I would be well on my way to retiring by 30! Every week, I hear from more and more people on the brink of a meltdown. Why? Due to the decline in organic reach and impressions of their Instagram feed, of course. Instagram users have also become fed up with not seeing who and what they want in their timelines. This has caused them to turn to Stories instead, and it’s not such a bad thing! I have compiled the 8 most frequently asked and most important questions regarding social media, algorithms and cutting through the noise and answered them to help you wrangle that unpredictable IG monster!
1. Video killed the Instagram star
Instagram stories keep going from strength to strength. Being able to add more engagement-encouraging ‘stickers’ to your Stories (such as thermometers, polls and ‘ask me anything’s) and then the ability to use Instagram Stories as an ad placement through Ads Manager has meant that this placement has become a crucial part of a brand’s social strategy.
Forecasts show that video will be the most important content format in 2019. (This rings true whether your demographic is on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram). Facebook’s algorithm is giving it preference and when using Video Views as a campaign objective in Ads Manager. You are able to piggyback a lot of reach from it (but shh, you didn’t hear that from me)
Optimising video for social media platforms has also become more widely accepted. Brands are beginning to understand the importance of creating content specifically in social media-friendly ratios, and including text overlays or captioning – since over 90% of social media video content is viewed with the sound turned off.
It doesn’t end there, Facebook Live and Instagram Live Stories have already become widely used communication tools and they are only becoming bigger. More importantly, brands will benefit from dropping their guard and allowing themselves to be exposed to the risks associated with ‘live’. It is also such a great opportunity for storytelling when executed well.
2. Shoppable Instagram Feed and Instagram Stories
If you sell products online, and you haven’t created a Facebook Product Catalogue and linked it to your Instagram account – STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW…and do that instead! Your audience will instantly be taken to your product page on your website to shop, simply by tapping a product on your feed. It is a feature you must utilise to both keep up with consumer expectations and give yourself another revenue stream! If you already have this in place, go and get yourself a drink, you deserve it!
3. The infamous ALGORITHM
“How do I grow my Instagram following?” “Why aren’t my followers engaging?” “Why isn’t my following growing faster?”
The short answer, THE DAMN ALGORITHM! It’s a tough slog right now, there’s no easy or magic way around it. It’s likely to get even harder as it becomes an increasingly competitive space. Instagram’s algorithm favours a more monetized position (like it’s big brother Facebook) – so it is harder than ever to grow an organic following and to be seen! Team that with consumers’ changing habits and hesitation to follow too many brands and you’re left with a recipe for disaster. It is now more important than ever for brands to be posting meaningful content and giving their audience a reason to follow and engage.
4. Facebook Pixel
The Facebook Pixel is nothing new and exciting, but it is something that’s becoming more widely used by businesses both big and small. If you’re unsure of what it is, it’s a code that you place on your website. It collects data that helps you track conversions from Facebook ads, optimize ads, build targeted audiences for future ads, and remarket to people who have already taken some kind of action on your website. Having a Facebook Pixel installed on your site has become mandatory, not a ‘nice to have’.
5. Messenger Bots
Facebook Messenger Bots are revolutionising the way businesses conduct customer service, sales, and marketing. These bots provide a direct line of communication between the customer and their problem. They give customers exactly what they want: self-service and a personal, human touch, the very instant they want it.
You may like to think about the most frequently asked questions you receive from customers. It may be as simple as your trading hours or your phone number. OR, perhaps you’d like to offer a fun ‘personal shopping assistant’ option to Messenger to help with gift giving, personal styling, or more.
6. Authentic Vs Real
Thanks to a number of factors, including the privacy issues this year, Facebook’s algorithm is shifting away from click and engagement bait content and more towards genuine storytelling and human connection.
Weaving in genuine stories and storytelling is definitely something that you should be considering when developing content for your social feeds. Your best bet is to watch what the heavyweights in your industry do. They are likely to be making the first move with key changes and trends.
7. Alt Tags for IG
This is very new and something that has previously been associated with websites and SEO. Instagram has recently launched Alt Tags for their posts. Alt Tags are aimed at assisting the visually impaired, by describing in a sentence what the image or video contains. They are highly appreciated by Google Crawlers and they are a sign of what looks like a bigger shift towards making social media more inclusive. If you see the Alt Tag option appear, utilise it, don’t be the last to board the train.
We start and finish with stories. Get on board the Instagram Stories train while you still have a chance. The Instagram gods are being somewhat kind with the stories algorithm. It is currently the best place to gather the most eyeballs on your content. It is also an extremely effective and inexpensive Ad placement.
Social Media Marketing is changing so quickly. An aesthetically pleasing Instagram grid and 30 hashtags as your sole social media strategy are just not going to cut it. It has never been more important to work with people who truly understand the in’s and out’s of social media marketing. Feel free to reach out for a free digital health check, some advice or an entire strategy. I am always here to help!