Instagram Algorithm Update & Its Implications

We saw this coming a while back; when Facebook acquired Instagram, and again last month when Twitter introduced its own algorithm. It seems it’s now Instagram’s turn to redeem the app that serves 400 million monthly users with an update to it’s algorithm that will reorganize users’ now chronological feed by content popularity and relevancy.

The implication of Instagram’s user feed update marks a new era for digital marketing: Social media is the new display network. Here are five practices we recommend for brands that use Instagram and other social networks as part of their marketing communication plan.

1. PAID SOCIAL IS AS ESSENTIAL AS ORGANIC SOCIAL

Quality content is the foundation to keep your audience engaged but it’s no longer enough for social media marketing. You cannot rely on a platform’s natural user base growth to increase your follower base. To enhance brand awareness among the right target audience segments, paid social is your powerful tool in reaching potential customers, just like how digital network proactively re-targets your website visitors.

2. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING REQUIRES CUSTOMIZED CONTENT DELIVERY

Unlike on display network, where you can easily re-target users wherever they go on the Internet, social media works in silo on each social platform. Customized content, format, targets, and a paid media plan are necessary for each social platform. On the flip side, there is no ad-blocking extensions for social channels… yet.

3. EACH CONTENT PIECE OFFERS A UNIQUE VALUE PROPOSITION

Each user spends seconds on posts before scrolling down the feed, so what makes them stop, click, engage, and even buy what you have on offer? It takes time to insert a value proposition into each touch point of a brand’s marketing messages. These prompt users to see the value of, and in turn respond to your call-to-action. In order to do so, editorial content has to be based on a user-first priority, instead of a product-centric perspective.

4. CHANNEL STRATEGY IS USED TO MANAGE A BRAND’S DIRECT LINES TO CUSTOMERS

Regardless of a brand’s social activities, every day brands receive direct customer feedback on social. This calls for a channel strategy to position and prioritize roles and goals for different social media, where two-way conversation is made possible and manageable. Brand messaging, community management, and customer service are equally important here than on your other marketing channels.

5. INFLUENCERS LEAD CONTENT CONSUMPTION ON INSTAGRAM AND WILL CONTINUE DOING SO

Instagram influencers are like YouTube creators (or both at the same time) in that they are real people just like us who love sharing and need social recognition. Some influencers could be key figures in a brand’s target communities, it’s a different type of celebrity endorsement.

Additional discussion about Instagram algorithm can be found at Simply Measured, The Guardian Tech, and Tech Times.

Evelyn Chao is on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Medium.