TURN ME OFF: HOW INSTAGRAM’S LOSING ITS LOVED ONES

The flurry of ‘turn me on’ posts that appeared in my Instagram feed this week reminded me of the email hoaxes and chain letters from grade 5 that we used to frantically send around.


“FW: FWD TO TEN PEOPLE IN THE NEXT HOUR OR YOU’LL BE ALONE FOREVER.”

I’d get one and wonder what would happen if I didn’t hit “send.” Would my crush really reject me at school in front of everyone? I imagine it’s close to the feeling of anxiety that brands have felt since Instagram announced it would be introducing an algorithm-driven news feed.

In a March 15th blog post, Instagram claimed that people miss on average 70 per cent of their feeds. According to the company, this means we don’t see the posts we “might” care about the most (I find this highly unlikely – unless I’m the only one that scrolls through my feed 20 times a day and double-taps until I get to the first image from my previous scroll every single time). Read: I see everything. 

Instagram’s answer to this problem: introduce an algorithm-based feed similar to Facebook. Posts will no longer appear in reverse chronological order, instead “the order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationships with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.”

This announcement caused the usual uproar that Facebook (Instagram’s parent company) receives each time it changes its news feed algorithm. Sensational articles are claiming it’s ‘the END of Instagram.’ People are whining, complaining, and screaming bloody murder.

Users and brands are experiencing a classic case of xenophobia: fear of the unknown. Nothing has even happened yet. In fact, Instagram sent out a message to reiterate that nothing has even happened yet:

instagram

Still, Instagram had a complete connip-shit. Even Kylie Jenner, who has 56 million Instagram followers and gets close to one million likes on photos, was beggin’ for our attention.

My thoughts? A lot of people are saying, “Instagram, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and I agree. Instagram will now, more than ever, be like a high school popularity contest. Brands will have to try as hard as ever to be the cool kid on the block, spending more time and money to be noticed.

What can brands with smaller budgets do to make sure they aren’t bullied off the platform? Here are a few things to think about:

  1. Engagement – You’ve probably heard people rant about ‘like to follower ratio.’ Why does someone with 15k followers only get 23 likes on a photo? Make sure the users who follow your account are real, genuine users. Interact with your followers, reply to users, run contests. Start now before the change has even taken place, and use this time as an opportunity to strike up a conversation.
  2. Content – There are only so many latte pics we can like in one day. Focus on creating quality content that’s relevant to your audience. Hire a photographer, set up photo shoots, use editing applications, keep a consistent identity, or try different themes like a grid. Strategic captions can also up the ante of your visual content. Ask for your audience’s opinion, or include a specific call to action. My favourite, for example, would be “tag a friend you’d share your last slice of pizza with.”
  3. Analytics – As a business, you’re probably already studying the analytics of your post. If you’re not, now is a good time to start. Track and analyze the results of every upload so you know when your audience is online. You’ll be able to determine what posts are getting the most engagement and when.
  4. Hashtags – Don’t be afraid of the hashtag. They’re everywhere, but when used correctly, the hashtag will make your content easily searchable and increase your visibility. Begin testing hashtags to see what improves engagement. You can also monitor for hashtags that are trending and popular. Just don’t overdo it – I’ve started using Notes on my iPhone to hide my hashtags.
  5. Influencer marketing – Influencers, especially ambassadors for fashion brands, hold a lot of weight in the Instagram community because they attract loyal followings and connect with users on a more personal level. Brands would be wise to set aside a budget to work with influencers who can spread their message and resonate with the right audience.

Now, please stop asking me to turn you on. The only thing that would really kill Instagram is getting up-to-the-nanosecond post notifications every. single. time. someone uploads a blurry vacation pic.  

And if you’re really upset about the update, you can always sign this change.org petition – or just come see us at 88 Creative.

Morgan is 88 Creative’s PR Account Manager. You can give her a pity follow on Instagram at @elyashamorgan.