As the clock struck midnight on the dreaded Instagram algorithm switch, we heard from more than a few panicked clients asking what we should do. Should we post one of those images begging followers to “please turn on our notifications?” Should we pour money into ads? A panicked chorus of “someone please tell me what to do” rang out from practically all corners of the office.
So while the issue of “what to do” regarding the new Instagram switch is definitely raised (and I’ll get there), it also raises a larger issue of how to deal with substantial changes to the social platforms we rely on to get our clients’ messages out. Ultimately, we feel the best course of action in this situation is to, as I believe the popular phrase goes, keep calm and keep doing what you normally do (but pay attention to the changes in your results).
Here is why:
For now, Instagram and all other major platforms are people’s platforms. That means we do not know any more than you do. Unfortunately, just because we work in social media marketing doesn’t mean we get a nice email from the folks at Instagram letting us know what to expect from their change. We are all in the same boat here, waiting and observing.
While people are tentative, if not straight up angry about the algorithmic takeover of their Instagram feeds, it is important to keep in mind the social dynamics that keep this platform alive and thriving. Initially, Instagram was pretty much exclusively for individuals. Only recently have advertisers started to get a healthy piece of the pie. But if Instagram alienates those individual users too much by effectively destroying the platform they used to love, there goes the audience they were expecting to advertise to. All of a sudden, those potentially very valuable ad spots in the algorithmic feeds are not quite so valuable anymore.
The good news: the sky is not falling. The bad news: We do not know exactly how the Instagram algorithm switch will ultimately affect the performance of certain business accounts. What we do know: Real estate on platforms like Instagram is getting ever more precious.
Think about it this way: Instagram is like a magazine that everybody subscribes to. And why not? The app is free and you get to decide what kind of content it shows you. Wow, that is cool! But now that they are in everyone’s living room, the company that owns the magazine sees dollar signs. Now they are trying to perform the delicate balancing act of catering to high dollar advertisers without pissing off their general user base.
So far, there hasn’t been a drastic change in the performance of our clients’ Instagram accounts. But as is the nature of algorithms, they change as they learn more information. So for now, we’ll be watching the skies.