The Instagram Landscape is Shifting- Here’s What You Need to Know

Three months ago, Instagram rolled out a pilot project in Canada to hide the number of likes on all posts. For mental health advocates, this was a huge win. When you don’t know how many likes your peers’ posts are getting, there’s less to compete with. But, what about the Canadian businesses that once used this metric to determine the success of their campaigns? This change has left marketing directors and social media managers at a loss. With the ever-changing landscape of Instagram, here’s how to keep utilizing this free resource for your business.

Hiding likes have changed the algorithm Instagram uses to organize feeds. Before, posts with very high metrics would be shown to more people. Without likes, how does the algorithm work? Well, no one knows for sure. But, we can deduce that it favours direct engagement more now. That means brands need to focus more on receiving comments, starting discussions in the comments, and encouraging the sharing of content.

Having a solution to focus on takes away some of the stress marketers were feeling. Sure, no one can see the like count. But that seems to be okay because users are clicking the heartless and less. Instead, users are commenting on posts that spark their interests, even if it’s with a simple thumbs-up emoji.

There has been some anxiety over the assumption that Instagram is changing the algorithm to favour paid ads instead of free posts. For small businesses with small marketing budgets, this is worrisome. There’s no doubt that paid ads were successful before, but brands could also be successful without them. Now, it seems you’re better off if you do a mix of both. Some experts recommend making one out of three posts paid. If that’s still not feasible for your marketing budget, experts recommend placing more effort into making posts primed for engagement.

What does that mean exactly?

It means creating posts that spur engagement, like discussions and shares. Treat your Instagram feed like an extension of your email newsletter. The focus is always on adding value to your followers’ lives, not spamming them with sales copy. Does that mean you can’t talk about your products or services? Of course not! Just don’t talk about them in terms of sales; your call to actions shouldn’t be encouraging users to buy your goods. Instead, create content around the purpose of your offerings and the problems they solve. Call to actions should pose questions that spur discussions in the comments or encourage shares. Post content that your target audience wants to read, even if it’s not directly promoting your business.

The learning curve of Instagram for business is ever-changing. The moment you feel like you have a handle on it, it changes. It’s important to be adaptable and committed to learning; get comfortable with rolling with the punches. Instagram is still an amazing resource for marketing if you adapt your strategies to its changes.   

For expert guidance on rolling with the punches and improving your Instagram marketing plan, contact us.