Instagram update: IG is moving an algorithm formula to determine what appears on users’ timelines rather than continuing to use a chronological order formula.
Translation: It means your Instagram timeline is going to work like your Facebook timeline and just because a person posts something doesn’t mean their followers will see it…and that is BAD for business. Let me explain…
I’m sure you’ve seen some of your favorite bloggers, makeup artists, natural hair enthusiasts, and other entrepreneurs all in a tizzy this morning over the recent announcement of some major changes to your Instagram timeline. Bear with us…they basically just dropped an atomic bomb on many of our most effective advertisement tools. (I’m exaggerating about the “atomicness” of the bomb. It’s more like a cocktail bomb…still devastating irritatingly destructive none the less.)
Anyway, some people are panicking…others are acting like insta-preneurs are “tripping” and so these nay-sayers are doing that thing women universally HATE—telling us to calm down about things people don’t even really understand. Like most situations, the correct response is somewhere in the middle of panicking and being #unbothered.
Do not be deceived by the people quoting a few slightly random statistics along the lines of, “most Instagram users miss about 70% of the content on their timelines” and “the average Instagram user follows about 800-some-odd accounts.” Blah, blah, blah. I read those articles as well. And it did help me relax…on a microscopic level.
Let me first say, that this change is not by any means life-altering. The drama I’ve infused into this narrative is for two reasons: 1. It’s entertaining 2. Nobody appreciates when people play with their money—and the truth about it is that this is going to jack with a lot of insta-preneurs’ ability to attract business and therefore make money as efficiently as before. And while I am ALL about rolling with the punches, adjusting, and moving forward on a business note, I wanted to offer a sober perspective and why this REALLY is a big deal and why insta-preneurs aren’t being dramatic or uninformed when posting those “please turn on my notifications” photos. By the way…PLEASE TURN ON MY NOTIFICATIONS! 🙂
But I digress…Did those articles help me calm down a little bit? Yes. Did they motivate me to carry on with insta-business as usual? Not possible. And it’s NOT because I can be petty and sometimes I have a hard time letting things go, either. I listed out a few reasons why this change is scary for insta-prenuers:
- Marketing Changes
As noted in one article urging users to calm down because they gave us ample time restructure our insta-marketing strategy and that was “nice of them.” On some highly sarcastic level I agree with them…Instagram didn’t HAVE to tell us. They could’ve just made the change…and dealt with the backlash and of the nearly 300,000 IG users that are STILL peeved enough to sign a Change.org petition urging IG to “Keep It Chronological” (even though the good folks over at Insta-HQ warned us out the kindness of their insta-hearts.)
BUUUUTTTTT…let’s just “keep it real” instead. I will start by stating the obvious: WHO WANTS TO CHANGE THEIR MARKETING STRATEGY?!–especially if it’s working. So many entrepreneurs use Instagram because of its (former) ability to allow even new and small brands to easily connect with users. Last time I checked “easily connecting with users” was a HIGHLY effective marketing strategy.
Then allow me to follow up with examining how we were instructed to change it: by creating MORE engaging content. Shocker! I took it that they meant quantity and quality when they used the word “more.” On a surface level I totally feel them. In order to compete, entrepreneurs have to CONSTANTLY be improving, innovating, and moving forward. Period. However, that advice is not ground breaking nor relieving. We already knew to do that. We were in fact already working on that. It takes a GREAT deal of time and energy to effectively manage a brand WHILE backing up that brand with quality services and products. And for those of us like myself who are doing that plus juggling about 18348904 other things, those instructions are mockingly redundant.
While we won’t know EXACTLY how this is going to turn out I can imagine that it will take some very uncomfortable adjusting on our part—with smaller brands like Slay By Nay taking the biggest hit.
- More competitive structure
Let’s break it down: the average Instagram user follows about 822 accounts and spends about 21 minutes a day on IG. It takes about 3-5 seconds to look at picture, evaluate it, like it or don’t, and move on. So you have to think: that’s enough time to see between 420-252 pictures.
Now, image that those 252-420 pictures are tickets to a party. Before the changes, anyone could get into this party; who you saw and who saw you was just a matter of when you showed up. With the new changes, the popular kids will get tickets to the party first…unless you’re a less-popular kid who is willing to pay to get in the party with the popular kids. Which nobody is hating on, except that most of us are not sure where we’re going to fall on the spectrum on popularity and we’re all standing around like District 12 citizens of Panem, praying we don’t get reaped from up out this party like Katniss and Peeta. Additionally space is limited denna-mug and there is a REAL chance that less popular kids aren’t going to make it past the parking lot.
Catch my drift? You have to admit that’s a little unnerving.
- Less guaranteed exposure
This is simple really. Before, when I posted content I knew it was going to show up in every one of my followers timelines. They might miss it, but at least I knew FOR SURE, it’s there. 70%-Shmeventy%–when we posted, we knew where it was even though we couldn’t control how many of our followers were actively using IG when we posted. On the brighter side, after these changes it won’t matter so much that they weren’t on IG when you post content. However, on the dimmer side, we don’t know when, where and if the posts will show up barely at all. Please refer to my party analogy in point 2 to understand why.
- Less control over outcomes
….at least for a while. I disagree with some of the articles I’ve read about how we can rely more on analytics (data about the trends and engagement habits of our followers) to help us maximize our exposure with these new changes. In fact, I would argue that we can no longer rely on our old analytics because the new changes are going to shift post engagement trends…most likely in a way that is good for Instagram and is not good for insta-preneurs. We go from knowing that I if I post content at 3pm on Tuesday I can expect a certain level of engagement because a certain amount of my followers are using Instagram at that time and all of them who are insta-engaged during that time frame will DEFINITELY see my posts to posting at 3pm on Tuesday and having NO clue how much exposure I can expect and when I can expect it.
- Pay for exposure
And here’s one of the REAL bottom lines…as are pretty much all bottom lines in the world of business. Instagram will gain more revenue off of 1. people spending more time on IG 2. people doing sponsored ads because (overnight) it’s going to become the only way to guarantee exposure. Not cool, IG. Not. Cool.
This is why many brands, especially smaller brands, don’t like fooling with Facebook business pages. They make it so DARN difficult to amass a decent following if you haven’t already gone viral on some level or if you don’t have a pretty substantial budget to allocate towards marketing.
I’m also interested in seeing how this going to affect larger specialty accounts that earn revenue running “ads” for smaller accounts. These larger accounts won’t be able to guarantee the same level of exposure that Instagram will be able to guarantee, and therefore it MAY (we can’t be sure just yet) be more effective for smaller accounts to pay Instagram instead of these larger accounts. I’ll admit this was always the case…remember how I mentioned the word “more” earlier…it applies to this situation too. If it was already that way before the changes it’s MORE that way after the changes.
I will be the first one to tell anybody, “It’s 2016! Get with it or get out of the way!” So don’t let this article fool you into thinking I’m just trying to complain and get my butt handed to me by a little change. Slay By Nay nor One Parent Wonder is going anywhere or getting reaped up out the party without a fight. AND it’s my hope that if you have a brand that your brand isn’t going anywhere or getting reaped either. But don’t take this change as lightly as some sources have instructed.
I might be a small brand for the time being but I know how to survive a storm: prepare for it, take the hit, and make adjustments in the future. (I will be saying more on that soon!)