Tips for Navigating the New Instagram Update

In true 2020 fashion, Instagram is making some big changes that might make the rest of us a little uncomfortable. As social media professionals, we live for the ever-evolving nature of social media, right? While we know it’s a part of the job, we also know that adapting your social media strategy to the constant changes is enough to make your head spin. As Instagram continues to evolve the ways we use the platform, here are a few tips to help you navigate the newest update.

Early Engagement

This new update is changing how we see content in our home feed. For marketers, this means only a small percentage of your followers will see your content when it’s posted. If your post earns engagement early on, Instagram’s algorithm will show it to the rest of your audience.

In other words, the new algorithm shows the best and most engaging posts since the last time a user opened their Instagram app. Someone who only checks Instagram once or twice a day will only see your post IF it’s earning top engagement. So, how can you foster that top engagement? Here are a few ideas:

  • Always review your account analytics to determine when your fans are already spending time online and be sure to post during that time.
  • Respond to comments on your post quickly and mindfully. Instagram is now prioritizing meaningful responses, rather than those using a few words or only emojis.
  • Tagging locations and relevant accounts in your post will also help your content be seen by a larger audience. However, the key word here is relevant. Tagging random accounts or accounts that might be relevant won’t help. This isn’t new information, but more beneficial now than it was before.

Hashtags

Hashtags have always been a conundrum to the average social media professional. Instagram allows up to 30 tags in one post—yet using all 30 is frowned upon. Previous research showed the sweet spot for the optimal number of hashtags was between 8 and 11. Now? That recommended number is dwindling down to about five.

The new update will penalize big chunks of repetitive hashtags in Instagram’s algorithm, and not prioritize these posts. So, what does this mean? You can no longer use the same hashtags in every post—other than branded hashtags, of course. Now, the best way to increase engagement through hashtags is by catering them to the content of each of your posts.

Stories

If you’re like me, all of these updates can be discouraging. We put a lot of time and effort into developing monthly content for our social accounts, only for that content to be seen by a percentage of our followers. Our final tip to combat this is Instagram stories.

Unlike Instagram’s home feed, stories do not have a complicated algorithm. They are simply shown in the order of which they were posted. So, to ensure your message is still heard, we recommend remaining active on Instagram stories at least once a day, if not more. Not only will this put your message in front of more of your followers, but it will also allow you to focus your time on creating content that will actually be seen.

Overall, the best way to determine which strategy works best for your page is to put your ideas into action and see how your audience responds. If you aren’t sure what the best frequency for your audience is, for example, start out by posting daily for two weeks. Then transition to only two or three weekly posts for another two weeks. Finally, review your post analytics and insights to see which frequency earned you better engagement. While there is plenty of research available regarding best practices for Instagram, the best way to know what works for your page is through trial and error. 

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