Congratulations. You survived the Great Instagram Upset of 2016. Now what?

Instagram Update

It’s officially been one week since the world stopped to freak out about something of mild importance to all of internet-kind – Instagram’s impending algorithm update.

If you hadn’t heard about it until now, you either a) don’t have an Instagram account or b) don’t work in PR. On second thought, even those two can’t be used as excuses… it’s being talked about everywhere. (Like here, and here and even here.)

But just because I like you and I want us to be on the same page, I’ll give you a quick rundown.

TIMELINE:

Monday, March 28: On Supposed Instagram Update Eve, brands and influencers lose their minds when they hear about an algorithm update that will change the order in which their followers see posts on their feeds.

Oh, yeah – and then Instagram assures us nothing is happening just yet.  

Tuesday, March 29: Never mind Instagram’s reassurance. On Supposed Instagram Update Day, brands and influencers continue to ask followers to sign up for post notifications. And then there was no update.

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Wednesday, March 30: Brands receive backlash for asking followers to sign up for post notifications. Oh, yeah – still no update.

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Thursday, March 31: Totally update-less. Everyone catches their breath. (Is it Friday yet?)

Friday, April 1: Brands and influencers get smart and ask followers to simply engage with their content.

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Was the Great Instagram Upset of 2016 for naught? Here’s the truth.

FACT: Instagram will be shifting away from a chronological feed to incorporate an algorithm that ensures the content the user is most interested in (as measured by likes, comments, etc.) bubbles up to the top.

MYTH: Users will no longer see all posts from all accounts they follow. This update will probably not rid your feed of any posts, but if you have a short attention span and don’t always obsessively scroll until you’re confident you’ve seen it all (like I do), there are bound to be things you miss. I’m sure I do no matter how hard I try to see all the #cheatdayeats, #ootd and #mcm. BUT if this is the case, you were probably already missing things before – now it’ll just be things Instagram thinks you’ll care less about.

So, why do PR people care so much? Well, simply, it holds us all accountable for creating engaging content. Brands are afraid they’ll lose followers and overall engagement if their posts start slipping to the bottom of their followers’ feeds. This is not unwarranted. It’s a real possibility.

But here’s why we should all take a deep breath and move on with our lives.

History says we’ll make it out alive.

Facebook did it. Twitter did it. The world didn’t crumble. Most brands saw a dip in follower growth and engagement, but have since recovered and seen it steadily climb once again.

Ultimately, it’s a good move for authentic brand engagement.

As much as this makes our jobs as PR folks that much harder, it’s ultimately going to be better for brands. As a result of this update, we’ll start to see who our true fans are – the people who take it a step further than a follow. Once our audience is pared down to the most faithful followers, we’ll begin to see what type of content they’re most interested in and have the ability to tailor to their interests. The better we can understand what our true fans want from us, the more likely we are to turn a “like” into a comment, a comment into a website visit, a website visit into an inquiry and an inquiry into a purchase.

Now what?

Stay the course – create content and actively listen. Is one particular type of post receiving more likes and comments than others? Don’t just watch it happen and be OK with it; do MORE! Major key.

Another one – stalk the crap out of your competitors and see what’s working for them, and then do it BETTER. This is essentially how all content is created.

Will this Instagram update make engagement more challenging? Yes. Will it be a totally novel experience? No. We’ve been there, we’ve done that, we’ve survived, we’ve thrived. Just breathe.

…until, of course, Instagram introduces an additional algorithm update which specifically pushes brand posts to the bottom of users’ feeds (like on Facebook), essentially forcing us to advertise for engagement. Then we can do this all over again. Hooray!

To be continued…

 

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