With the ever changing social media landscape, marketers need to be aware of not only changes in social trends but also changes in social media platforms. Gone are the days when a brand can rely on organic content reaching their target audience.
In June of 2016, Instagram has revamped how the news feed is displayed. Since the beginning of Instagram, all photos appeared in chronological order. Users could scroll through their news feed and see every photo that was posted by accounts that they follow. After this update, Instagram implemented an algorithm that will push the “top posts” of the user’s interest breaking the chronological order, thus brand account posts never seeing the light of the phone screen.
Upon the change, Ad Week wrote, “They are now under more pressure than ever to produce the best content. There is a direct mandate to post photos, videos and stories that users want. As user demand increases, brands will now have to work even harder to create compelling and engaging content.” If a brand wants to appear organically in a followers feed, the post has to become relevant to the user. Marketers need to ensure that posts are designed with the user in mind. Long gone are the days of repurposing marketing assets across multiple channels. To stay alive organically on Instagram, the content needs to be new, sized correctly, and even captioned and tagged correctly.
With the fight to appear organically on Instagram, brands must turn to paid promotions. As with organic posts, paid posts cannot be on a “set it and forget it” mentality. In October 2016, Instagram again updated their marketing platform, this time in marketing’s favor. Sponsored posts can have a call to action, taking the user directly to branded content. Not only does the call to action button sit directly above the normally placed Instagram like and comment buttons, it now changes color to gain a user’s attention. With this change, marketers are seeing a huge increase in overall engagements.
So what does this mean for marketers?
When posting organically: A brand must be up to date on all platform trends and changes. Content must be created for Instagram, and posted as a user would, using filters and the appropriate hashtags. When fighting for eyeballs in the algorithm, it is imperative a brand cater to their followers.
When sponsoring posts: A brand again must be up to date on all platform capabilities. Now that Instagram offers interactive call to action buttons, a brand must utilize this if their KPI’s are based on conversions. By sponsoring posts, not only can you drive a follower to take action (download, shop, install) but you can extend you post’s reach. Sponsoring your post will not only ensure that it appears within a followers feed but it will also appear in non-followers feeds for added exposure and hopefully conversions.
Overall, marketers need to recommend a combination of both organic and paid Instagram posts to keep their presence alive and speak to the followers in the tone that they want to hear.