Notice a change in your Instagram feed? This summer Instagram followed the lead of its parent company, Facebook, and started using a new algorithm to deliver content. Instead of the straightforward, chronological approach, it now curates your feed based on what it thinks you like and want to see.
Kevin Systrom, co-founder and chief executive of Instagram, told the New York Times, “On average, people miss about 70 percent of the posts in their Instagram feed. What this is about is making sure that the 30 percent you see is the best 30 percent possible.” The biggest benefit of this new algorithm is that it will deliver a more personalized and higher quality feed. The biggest drawback is that Instagram is deciding what its users like, and not the user.
As a business, especially a new business trying to get more followers, this can be a big hurdle. Used smartly though, you can use this new algorithm to your benefit.
Here are some suggestions to think about when posting with the new algorithm.
Create great content
Even before the new algorithm, the secret to success on Instagram is creating great content. No one wants to look at blurry or bad photos. Make sure you are only posting quality images. Remember to think of your Instagram feed as a magazine for your business. Now more than ever it’s important to also develop content that will work well over longer periods of time. Real time images are still worthwhile, but you won’t be guaranteed that these are showing up in users’ feeds in real time. Be sure to work in content that is engaging, but not time specific.
Engage with Users
The new algorithm is going to start curating people’s feeds based on what they like and who they interact with, so relationships are extra important. Don’t just post, also engage with other users and establish relationships. Like photos, leave comments, and start conversations. Encourage engagement with your own posts by asking questions and starting conversations, or by sharing user-generated content.
Use Hashtags effectively
Hashtags will be even more crucial to getting your photos in front of the people who are looking for content like yours. Research the appropriate ones for your cuisine, industry and neighborhood and use them effectively. Try and create content that also gives you the opportunity to use new hashtags. Think about using ones that can be specific to you and what you’re promoting, and also take the extra step to also look around and see if you can incorporate any trending topics. Can you create a special cocktail inspired by Pokemon Go? What about having a Brazilian inspired special dish to celebrate the summer Olympics?
At the end of the day, you’re using Instagram because you want it to get people in the door and spending money. With every post, try and get people off Instagram by including a call to action to get people to your website or online reservation platform. Don’t waste time trying to beat the new algorithm, work with it to drive business your way.
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Writer Bio: Kristin Crane is a writer and designer living in Providence, Rhode Island. She works with small businesses to help them promote themselves in various industries including food, wine, and the arts. She also contributes as Travel Editor to The Lady Project blog.