You might have noticed quite a buzz about a shift in Instagram’s algorithm. In some cases, the controversy has turned into an all-around uproar with users. What exactly is a social media algorithm and what does it mean for the future of sites such as Facebook and Instagram?
What is an Algorithm?
If you ask most marketers why they love Instagram so much, most would agree that the absence of an algorithm is what entices them. An algorithm is the method in which social media outlets determine who views your posts. Just like Google rewards a website that receives visits from trustworthy sites with better placement in the search engine, social media sites such as Facebook reward posts that receive high interaction with more views, and the potential for increased interaction. Google rewards sites with high traffic, while Facebook rewards posts with high engagement. Even a business’s most popular Facebook post is lost to most of it’s fans due to its algorithm.
What Does This Mean for My Business?
Is Facebook hurting businesses, though? Social media algorithms actually provide much more potential than most think. Let’s take your Facebook fan page for example. If you were a hardware store with a tent sale, would you really want all of your fans to see it? Some of your Facebook fans aren’t outdoor enthusiasts, so if your post were to be seen by all of your Facebook fans, conversions might not be impressive. But, if you were to put $50 toward a Facebook ad distributed to your fans, friends of your fans, or social media users who are the vicinity of your store at the time of viewing your ad, that would be pretty powerful. Even more powerful, you can target this audience even more and put your post in front of users who regularly spend money on outdoor items, who like to camp, who make over $50k per year. Let’s say you decide to put your tent for sale online, wouldn’t it be great to target social users who regularly pay for outdoor items with their credit card online? The return on investment for a targeted Facebook ad is much more powerful than the return on investment you would have received by depending on Facebook’s algorithms.
How to Adjust to the Algorithmic Changes
When creating a Facebook ad, advertisers can decide where they would like their ad to be seen, including Instagram. Now instead of just targeting Facebook users who meet your target audience, your reach can actually expand outwardly to Instagram. With a recent isolated test at Nuera Marketing, we found Instagram conversions are significantly less costly.
How Does Instagram’s New Algorithm Compare to Facebook’s?
While they are similar, it’s important to remember that the two social media outlets are used differently. Facebook users rarely use hashtags to search for posts, while Instagram users use hashtags to search for posts almost religiously. Hashtag usage on Facebook has statistically shown to decrease engagement, while proper hashtag usage on Instagram significantly increases engagement. So, while the algorithm will continue to reward posts with high engagement with even more engagement, Instagram’s high hashtag search usage will allow users to remain relevant, and perhaps even learn to use hashtags more efficiently.
What Does This Mean for Instagram’s Future?
Some non-marketers on Instagram are upset that there will be an algorithm added to their feed, falsely believing the algorithm doesn’t currently already apply to their individual Facebook account already. While the change seems cumbersome, this new algorithmic shift will challenge Instagram users to create more engaging content, use hashtags properly for increased search, and learn how to target their ideal audience with Instagram ads. Some day marketers will be in rocking chairs reminiscing around the days when social media was free for advertisers, and how difficult it was to engage the wrong audience.