In this post we’re going to see what makes Instagram tick. We’ll also see what’s the hubbub about the latest tweak in its algorithm and how to use the changes to your advantage.
This year, in March, Instagram announced that they will be updating the Instagram algorithm. Following on the footsteps of Facebook, “Instagram now relies on machine learning based on your past behavior to create a unique feed for everyone. Even if you follow the exact same accounts as someone else, you’ll get a personalized feed based on how you interact with those accounts.”
There are essentially three core tenets to the new algorithm viz— Interest, Relationship and Recency.
Let’s begin with Interest.
The first tenet is Interest. Using machine learning in Instagram predicts the probability of your liking a particular post in your feed.
They suppose it is based on several factors and make push posts that are most likely to be noted by you. We don’t know the entire set of factors behind the ranking but past behavior on similar content seems to be the most likely one.
Here is a simple example. You watch a funny video and suddenly there are funny videos everywhere. Instagram interprets that if you’ve watched one video it’s highly likely that you’d watch two or three. I like watching woodworking videos and my feed is full of those things.
The second tenet is Recency. A post is more likely to pop up in your feed based on how long ago it was posted. The algorithm is now giving importance to posts that were made recently rather than ones say made 3 days ago. Again, based on how frequently someone logs in the feed is further likely to be constrained. Someone logging in every few hours might see all of your posts. Someone logging in once a week will see only the most recent ones.
If you have family, markers like being tagged in photos or lots of comments from particular persons on photos of yours are sufficient indicators for the social media platform to place their value. The relationship tenet seems to be the strongest influencer. According to Instagram, users see 90 percent of the posts from their friends and family now after the algorithmic tweak than before. Earlier it was 50%.
In a business profile the relationship that you have established with the person is going to matter when displaying your posts on their feed.
Start commenting on your followers photos and engaging more with them in other ways like messaging them. Don’t bore them with promotional offers but offer relevant interaction.
The importance of video content
As we were talking, videos seem to have the upper hand on Instagram. The algorithm however doesn’t give any leeway or prefer one media type over the other. But, most people online like watching videos and that is true for Instagram too.
55% of the world-wide population watches videos every day.
The next stat is particularly useful for eCommerce site owners— almost half of internet users search for videos related to the product or service they’re thinking of purchasing.
And 45% of people watch more than an hour videos on Facebook or Youtube.
If more people engage with video they’re going to see more videos on their feed giving rise to the perception of videos being more popular. That said you should test both content types and see which one works better for you.
What’s the way to tie all these things together?
Interest, Relationship and Recency are all geared towards creating a more engaged experience for the user. For you to be noticed, this requires doing everything you can to remain at the front and center of their feed.
By repeatedly being in front of your audience you’re baking your presence and identity into their minds. For instance, you can’t escape the billboards and advertorials from Pepsi anywhere you go. Recognition comes easy with repetition. Consider posting multiple times every day to score on recency and if you run out of posts consider repeating a few posts.
Over time you’ll discover content that’s always popular with your audience.
Instagram is where all the millennials are flocking to. These are the guys with the biggest pockets in the world. Again 53% of Internet users belonging to the 18 to 29 year age bracket are active on Instagram. This age bracket loves spending money. With the right targeting and interesting products eCommerce marketers like you can reach this crowd and get them to spend money. If you catch them young fleeting loyalties that characterize the generation will be a thing of the past.
Unlike Facebook, that put a throttle on organic reach, Instagram doesn’t have any such restrictions until now. All followers can see your posts in an unrestricted manner. And you can be in front of your audience without paying for it.
There’s no penalty for posting multiple times a day and neither is there shadowban.
The opportunity is ripe for eCommerce brands to attract a generation of loyal followers. What do you think?
Author bio: George is a professional blogger who’s been covering Conversion Rate Optimization, SEO and Marketing since 8 years now. He covers cutting edge insight into marketing at ThinkingNE and Seekdefo.