Last week it felt like all the changes and tests that Instagram have been going through over the past 2 years came to a head. Petitions were shared and even the Kardashians waded in.
Since the rise of Reels there has been a growing community of people who want Instagram to go back to a “photo sharing app”. From a small business perspective Instagram has definitely changed over recent years – with algorithm updates, focus on ad spend and shift toward video being the biggest factors – which has meant that some businesses are struggling more to gain engagement and drive sales. (Only some though, others have thrived.)
The recent feed change tests (full screen, 4:5 ratio etc) have been a particular point of contention and has felt like a TikTok copy. While this has only been a test it’s clear some people truly disliked it.
After a lot of noise last week Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, then released some statements about pulling back on certain things, so let’s break it down on what is actually going on…
There have been a few tests ongoing for the last few months – one around a 16:9 full screen feed, another with a 4:5 grid layout and 4:5 ratio feed.
Mosseri confirmed last week that Instagram are pulling back on these, stopping the tests and won’t be making any changes at this time.
This is a common complaint from many people that they see too many recommendations in their feed and they want to see content from the people that they follow. Instagram have been clear they will continue to push recommendations but temporarily will be reducing the number of recommendations “as it works to improve its personalization tools” (source: Platformer).
Personally I’m not against recommendations – I have found many new businesses & accounts to follow (and even buy from) through recommendations & ads. Remember if you do see something you don’t like to click ‘not interested’ this will help the algorithm know what you do (& don’t) want to engage with.
Ok not a specific update on this but it comes up frequently and I did see lots of mentions about wanting it back last week.
Earlier this year Instagram introduced 2 new feeds: Favourites & Following.
If you only want to see content from those you follow in chronological order then ‘Following’ is for you.
Again personally I’m not interested in this. I like seeing the curated home feed where the algorithm is serving me what it thinks I will engage with most. It doesn’t always get it right but then who does!
A Photo Sharing App
Instagram are committed to video, and video is nothing new on Instagram. It started long before Reels, in fact I would argue they were at the beginning of short form “snackable” video with Stories.
I’ve always enjoyed Stories, particularly talking Stories where you get a little insight into someone’s day, where they are and what they’re doing. Sharing updates on their business, sneak peeks, the highs & lows. So, no surprise, I also enjoy watching Reels and getting lost in a few rabbit holes.
It remains to be seen what further actions Instagram will take following all the backlash last week but one thing is for sure video will be sticking around.
I hope this helps clarify some of the recent things that have been discussed and shared. If you want to read more about Mosseri’s recent announcements then have a read of this article on Platformer and/or check out the Creators feed. What else are you confused about? DM me on Instagram and I’ll get things uncomplicated.
I want you to enjoy using Instagram to build your community and grow your business; to find out more about how I can help you do this check out my Instagram services.
Or if you’re not sure where to start or have some questions, then let’s grab a virtual cuppa and we can chat it through.
My biggest bugbear with Instagram is all the talk about the algorithm.
I feel like on every other social media platform (which all have algorithms btw) no one talks as much about the algorithm as they do on Insta. There’s so many people sharing tips to “beat” or “please” the algorithm; selling courses on it, etc. Let me tell you the algorithm is not there to be beaten – in fact its there to help (but that’s a topic for another day).
More than that, if you want to enjoy your time on Instagram and build a business on it, then you should be focusing on your community, not the algorithm.
In fact, it’s what Instagram is there for; the headline statement on their ‘about’ website is “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” They have designed a platform to build communities; so why are we trying to please their algorithm, when we should be focusing on pleasing our community?
Your community are the real people behind the ‘gram. The people who support you, who recommend you, who buy from you.
Focus on creating content for them, and if it works for the algorithm along the way then bonus!!
Having a community on Instagram means you:
- Can truly connect with people online
- Will focus less on reach & vanity metrics
- Can share content that people want to see
- Are more likely to convert followers to clients
The biggest plus – having a community online makes it all a lot more enjoyable! You’ve got people in your corner, to talk to and connect with – its the SOCIAL of social media.
Tips for building a community
Here’s some tips whether you’re just starting out or looking to develop your current community:
The first step is to engage with those already engaging with you; respond to comments on your content, thank people for sharing, respond to responses to interactive Story stickers.
Engage with other people’s content – reciprocate the support shown to you, comment (genuinely) on their posts.
Getting into people’s DMs, in a genuine, authentic way, can help to quickly build a relationship as you’re having a 1:1 person to person discussion.
How to do it genuinely? Send message replies to comments left on your posts, reply to Stories, follow up on responses to interactive Story stickers.
Make it more real by using voice replies rather than typing; build that personal connection.
CREATE CONTENT FOR THEM
Focus on what your community will find valuable when planning your content. What questions do you get asked frequently? What challenges are they facing right now? Your content is not about you & your business; its about your community.
If you’re not sure what they’d like to see then ask them – be specific in your questioning, very open & general questions may not get a response, so instead ask “what questions do you have about XYZ” or “last week I shared content about A would you know rather hear about B or C”.
Use your Insights to understand what they enjoy & engage with so you can create more of the same.
Find new audiences by collaborating with others; find people who fit with your business and look for ways to collaborate. Whether that’s sharing advice, going “Live” to talk about certain topics, or looking to work together on a joint offering. Collaborating can build your network and get you in front of a new audience, and potential new people who will want to be part of your community.
Don’t forget to use the Instagram ‘Collaboration’ feature to maximise this.
Gone are the days of the “Insta perfect” feed and pictures. Yes, they still exist and we do all like to swoon over an insta worthy cake but people also like to see the real person.
Show up as you are – not everyone will like you, but that’s ok – you don’t need everyone to like you.
Also we can all see through the fake preamble to sales chat can’t we, so just don’t do it. Build genuine connections with people and then the selling won’t feel so icky.
RECOGNISE & ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION
Credit the people in your community for their questions & suggestions. If you’ve learnt something new from them, or they’ve inspired you, let them know.
If you want more community involvement (client feedback, photos, etc) then consider incentivising this with discounts / small prizes.
So next time you’re feeling frustrated with Instagram, or wondering what you should do for the algorithm, remember it’s not about the platform – it’s for the community it facilitates.
I want you to enjoy using Instagram to build your community and grow your business; to find out more about how I can help you do this click here to view my Instagram services.
Or if you’re not sure where to start or have some questions, then get in touch to book a free 30 minute clarity call, we can chat it all through and work out how I can best support you. Book a call here.