Is “algorithm” a curse word yet? I’ve yet to hear it used positively. June 2019 brought another wave of algorithm changes to Instagram and once again people are freaking out. To be honest, it’s more of the same. Fewer people are seeing your feed posts and the IG team is giving us almost no information on how the darn thing actually works. We can complain all we want (and I’m here for you if you really want to), but really all we can do is work with what they’re giving us. Here’s how it works these days: Instagram’s goal is for you to stay on the app as long as possible so that you see as many ads as possible and they make more money than God. In order to keep your attention for the maximum amount of time, they prioritize the posts that they think you’ll like the most. This is usually based on which brands/accounts you’ve engaged with in the past, which images you seem to like the most (using image-recognition tools), and which posts are recently posted and performing well. The fact is that most of your posts will go unnoticed these days. Make sure the content you’re posting is fire and you’re utilizing Instagram’s other features like stories and up to 30 hashtags. More on that below.
Let’s be realistic for a second. It’s summer. The kids are out of school and most humans are spending as much time outside and off of their phones as possible. If you’re not one of those people, you might want to think about getting out of the A/C for a few. If your engagement is down it could just be because a lot of your followers aren’t online as often. Take a deep breath. They’ll come back when it gets cold.
YOUR CONTENT SUCKS
Harsh, but might be true. If your content isn’t anything to brag about then this nasty new algorithm isn’t going to do you any favors. Before you post something, think to yourself, “If I saw this on my feed, would I share it to my stories or bookmark it as something I can use later?”. If not, don’t post. Take some time to think about what you’re trying to say to your audience and how you could better convey it.
YOU'RE USING TOO MANY STOCK PHOTOS
Instagram is a highly visual platform. (HELLO, it’s literally all photos.) Using stock photos is fine sometimes. The fact is that our eyes are pretty trained to recognize which photos are authentically yours and which ones you got off of Google and Instagram is designed so that your followers aren’t going to even look at the caption (aka the information you’re marketing) unless the photo draws their eye. There are some instances where stock photos work really well, but a whole page of photos you got offline isn’t going to help your account’s engagement issue. Take some photos of your actual business/team/community or get on Canva (it’s free) and start playing around with some graphics. The goal is to make it as personalized as possible while still being professional.
NOBODY KNOWS WHAT YOU'RE SELLING
If you’re managing a business account, the content needs to be related to your business. There are lots of instances where you can incorporate parts of your personal life if you’re the sole owner/employee and your followers know you on a personal level. This kind of strategy can actually lead to fantastic results, but for most businesses it doesn’t work that way. Make sure that your content is relevant to your business, otherwise your followers will get confused and uninterested in your products/services.
YOU'RE NOT UTILIZING IG STORIES
We still have loads of clients who are baffled by Stories (which is why it’s nice to have a Millennial handling your social media). While posting to your stories won’t make your feed content rank any higher, it will keep you at the top of mind for your followers, which is really the name of the game. It also offers interactive options that the posts in your feed don’t. For example, in your Stories you can add polls, quizzes, gifs, and all kinds of other things that will engage your followers in a way that your posts might not. At this point, Stories are a non-negotiable. You have to use them in order for your Instagram strategy to be effective.
YOUR HASHTAGS DON'T MAKE ANY SENSE
Another one that seems to be confusing for a lot of our clients- hashtags. Instagram allows 30 per post and we recommend using all 30 because…why wouldn’t you? Each one puts you in front of a different audience. The issue that we’re seeing with new clients is that they’re using hashtags that literally no one would ever follow or look up. The key is to use hashtags that you would actually look for or be interested in. Using the acronym of a license that you have, as cool as it is, is not going to bring you followers that will buy your product or service. Instead, think about if you were one of your prospective clients looking for your specific business on Instagram. What would you search? We have a hashtag rule at Millennial Marketing that we follow for most of our clients that works really well and is easy to maintain: 15 of the 30 hashtags are unchanging. They’re relevant to your business no matter what kind of content you’re posting. The other 15 hashtags are specific to the post. For example, when I publish this blog post, I’ll make a graphic on Canva to post to social media and on Instagram I’ll use 15 hashtags that are related to my business in general and 15 that are specific to the content of this blog post.
Losing followers and likes can feel like a huge hit to your Instagram strategy, but the good news is that it’s easy to come back from a low-performing month. Take a look at what you could be doing differently, make a strategy, and stay consistent with it. If that’s still not working, it might be time to call us for some help!