Instagram keeps changing and updating the algorithm, as well as, rolling out new features and details. How can a busy business owner stay ahead of this game, you ask? I say, it is not that difficult, because independently of the algorithm changes, some fundamental things remain the same.
Here, I am sharing my top five strategies as to how predict and adapt the new Instagram updates and changes.
Pay attention to new features
Instagram rolls out new features — and improvements to the old ones — at light speeds. However, since Instagram is the hottest platform on the block, the media extensively covers new features as soon as they come out. Spend some time educating yourself and looking for creative ways to take advantage of the new features.
Instagram encourages the use of new features by giving them a preferential treatment for at least a short period of time. The algorithm would push videos into more feeds, when the video features were just rolled out. The same thing happened with Stories and the organic reach of those seem to be much more favorable than that of traditional posts.
So, read commentary and watch how influencers and competitors use these new features. Of course, think of unique ways to integrate these features into your own content.
However, this is not to say that you have to jump on a bandwagon of every single trend you see out there. Ask yourself whether a new feature will give you an edge over competitors, will it make connecting with potential followers easier, or will it help you tell your brand story in a more cohesive, engaging and wholesome way. If you are unsure on how you can leverage a given feature, give it some time. If an update or a feature doesn’t quite fit into your content strategy, this might be fine as well — which brings me to my next point.
Pay attention to your own audience
Hopefully, you have built an engaged and loyal following, however big or small it might be. It follows that you should learn as much as you can about them. Once you know them well, evaluate the posts that get the most engagement and uncover your audience’s content preferences. Strive to strike a chord with your specific following.
Cater to these people because they are the ones who will like and comment on your posts or they will not. Pay attention to their preferences or even ask them directly once in a while. Get to know them. Understand their interests and aspirations, and also their pain points and frustrations. This will help you craft relevant content that they will want to engage with. If they are there for your tips on healthy eating, give it to them. If they are there for the comedy, make sure that every post is funny. Whatever it is, create content for your audience.
Instagram might be rolling out new features every day, but those are useless if your audience doesn’t enjoy it or engage with it. Whatever the Instagram algorithm throws your way, high engagement rates from the audience that absolutely loves your content will always win.
After all, you want people to enjoy your content, so your posts have to be crafted with people in mind first, and not algorithms. Because if people find your content interesting, the algorithm will follow the “voice of the crowd” and favor highly-engaging content and handles.
Strive to create original content
Instagram has become notorious for stunning images, perfectly-orchestrated flatlays, and airbrushed models. Clearly, business owners and bloggers alike want to hit that mark with every post of their own. Needless to say, it is very challenging and time-consuming endeavor. So, stock images came to the rescue. These days you can see tons of stock images traveling from one handle to the next.
There is nothing wrong with posting an occasional tasteful stock photo, but try to make it your own as much as possible with creative crops, filters, and — of course — captions. However, it is best to strive to create as much of your own unique content as possible. Consumers and platform users became very good at discerning a stock image from an original photo — and guess which one produces more engagement.
These days, anyone can find a stock image and slap a logo on it, but it doesn’t tell your unique story and it doesn’t add anything exciting to it. It also doesn’t add any value to your followers. And as we know, it is the valuable content that always brings in engagement.
Bringing me back to the previous point, whatever Instagram throws at us next year in terms of algorithm updates and features, there will always be need for creativity in traditional posts, Stories, and Live videos. Do not disregard all the these creative tools and ways to make your presence more engaging and wholesome.
Take the time to plan amazing and engaging content
The most successful Instagram handles look like well-curated catalogs instead of a mere collection of disorganized and unrelated images. Strong branding is at the core of strong Instagram presence. So, it comes as no surprise that you need to take time to carefully plan and organize your content.
What’s cool about Instagram is that you can take your “catalog” nine pictures at a time. This activity shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to complete each week. Plus, you can always leverage an editorial content calendar that should simplify and streamline this process even further. It will drastically improve your branding and storytelling, which in turn, dramatically improves engagement and follower counts.
Do not forget about our little friends, the building blocks of content either:
- and value.
Don’t forget that all of your posts need to provide some kind of value, whether it’s monetary or educational or simply entertaining. Build your social media presence in such a way that it is a resource of information and inspiration for your followers.
Pay attention to your analytics
As with any other marketing channel, “what gets measured, gets improved.” Analytics provide you with a great insight into your audience, their behaviors, and content preferences.
Examine your top posts. They will give you a great insight into content preferences of your audience. If you see some trends and specific content that perform well every time, definitely leverage that knowledge and post more of similar content.
When evaluating your audience data, check their gender, age, and location. This basic demographic data will help you understand whether your Instagram audience roughly aligns with the target audience you’ve set for your business.
Even if you haven’t claimed your account as Business, you can get a ton of insight from third-party tools. This is a very important, yet often-overlooked step with this platform.
Once you’ve got a good grip on Instagram metrics and performance of your account, you should take a look at the traffic coming from Instagram to your website and examine people’s behavior once they land there. Now that they’re on your website already, you want them to take the next step, whatever it may be for your business. Examine how engaged Instagram traffic is on your website and how effective is your site in converting them into actual paying customers.
If you want to ensure that it’s an effective tool in bringing highly qualified and engaged audience to your website, you need to track and analyze all of the data available to you.
Remember, that Instagram is much more than pretty pictures, it’s a marketing machine. Put in just a little bit of effort, follow through on all five tactics outlined above, and you’ll begin to see Instagram marketing as a constant feedback loop, where you gain more understanding of your audience, which in turn will bring more traffic and a bunch of new paying customers to your website.
How do you stay up to date on Instagram updates and changes? What different tactics do you use? I’d like to know your tips! Share in the comment section below or head over to Instagram @lesyaliu to continue the conversation!