Moving to the Instagram algo-rhythm

Unless you’ve been on social media hiatus, you’ll have heard Instagram are updating their news feed algorithm. Similar to parent company Facebook and more recently, Twitter; instead of a chronologically sorted timeline, posts will soon be displayed in an order based on what a user has previously liked and engaged with.

Although justified by the fact that, on average, users miss out on 70% of Instagram content, most people are loathe to accept the changes proactively. One concern, especially for small businesses, is getting financially outmuscled competing for space with established brands.

Let’s make no mistake; this move is engineered to monetise the platform. By limiting the organic reach of business posts, moving forward, it’ll now be a case of ‘pay to play’ if brands wish to get the same number of eyeballs on their content.

However, this change needn’t be seen as the latest nail in Instagram’s coffin of commercialisation.

As Gary Vaynerchuk once said, “stop crying and keep hustling”. Social media is continuously evolving. Without an adaptable strategy, expect to be left behind as you cling to the memories of ‘how it used to be’.

For the forward thinking; here are some tips on how to work with the impending algorithm changes. Fear not, you’ve plenty of time too as the roll-out over the coming months is expected to be gradual.

  • Get creative and nail what it is your audience wants to see. While you might have been able to post a few lazy updates and still hit all of your audience’s feeds in the past, times are changing. Invest extra time in ensuring your content is highly optimised and valuable for your followers. Essentially, the algorithm will force businesses to apply more time and effort into their content creation.
  • Use free tools like Canva or Pablo by Buffer to make graphics with custom text over an image. Influencers and brands alike have already begun creating images encouraging their followers to turn on notifications so they’ll receive a heads-up whenever they post. In my opinion, this tactic won’t work for long. People will soon grow tired of receiving notifications whenever someone posts an update – my phone’s hot enough as it is!

Cheat tip!

Boost your post likes by creating an interactive graphic that requires the user to double-tap the screen to complete the image with the heart icon. It doesn’t take hours to make a graphic like below and people are intrigued as to what happens, so they click the image for the sake of it. Hey, I did say tips to beat the algorithm!

A photo posted by Dusted (@dusteddesign) on

  • Creating video is the way forward. As TechCrunch recently highlighted – time spent watching video on Instagram grew 40% since the end of last year. Did you notice how video likes have changed to a view count? It’s all designed to impress and encourage businesses to create video by saying ‘look how many views you could be getting’. This is a smart move. After all, an engaging 15-second video is far more entertaining than a still image.
  • Drive engagement with your posts and brand by running competitions or giveaways incentivising your followers to interact with your content. After all, the algorithm will assess how many people are doing exactly that. For this purpose, a ‘like to win’ competition that offers your product as a prize is a great way to increase interaction with your posts. To get extra eyes on your competition, make your followers tag a friend as an additional requirement. Every little helps.
  • Love and nurture your community by engaging with them. If someone likes your post, visit their profile to like one of theirs back. It’s all about forming a positive association with your brand so respond to any and every comment too. No brand is too big, so strip back your ego and talk to your fans.

While it might be hard to see the positives initially, the algorithm change is definitely a good thing. Don’t be intimidated or demotivated by the challenge. Strive to be the best and your content will reach the top by merit, not money!