Social Media Marketing And The Instagram Algorithm

Social media can be an excellent tool for outlining what your business stands for, what your over arching values are. It helps identify quickly the ideal client base to start building relationships with. Social media for business is a sustainable way to reach the right demographics, audience and keep in touch with them while increasing brand visibility.

Social Media Marketing is multi-faceted and encompasses many different forms across the relevant platforms, there is something to suit any kind of business. Whether that is Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook – all can be essential, when utilised correctly, in building long term brand relationships and reaching key clients. Having someone within your company’s marketing team that understands these platforms is crucial in ensuring that this is well executed.

There is a lot of talk on social media about algorithms and how they affect reach on social media platforms. Most notably Instagram, the platform that changed its chronological algorithm back in 2016 to a more calculated and engagement driven algorithmic feed – like Facebook’s. This was met with an uproar from those who businesses relied on their Instagram posts being received by their followers. The new algorithm meant a serious drop in engagement and at times less than 7% of followers seeing posts from Instagram accounts. For e-commerce businesses and influencers alike, whose income and business model depended heavily in engagement and reach this was a very negative change on the part of Instagram. Ever since this the topic of the algorithm has been one of serious contention.

The rise of social media for business and many people running successful businesses as a result of a well engaged audience and large following has meant the subject of the algorithm is always relevant. Even the biggest of influencers and e-commerce accounts can be found mentioning the algorithm and how it has effected their specific reason for using Instagram. The contention comes with the argument that users are complaining about the technical side of the app and not looking upon what they could be doing wrong.

A quick google search will bring up a plethora of articles that discuss what the current algorithm means and how to utilise it for best engagement. Top tips on why it is perhaps the user’s fault that their engagement is lower and how they can improve their content to tackle this decline. Tip such as, increase photo quality, consistency in posting, engaging with every comment on your posts and making use of al the functions that the app offers. The theory is that Instagram favours those that use the app as a community style hub. Those that go live, use the direct messaging service and engage with relevant content within their niche.

Finding your Instagram niche seems to be a key way of conquering issues with the algorithm, there are excellent examples of account users going ‘viral’ as such due to those in their niche. A recent example here in Northern Ireland is an Instagram account Smyth Sisters, run by local influencer Marianne Smyth. In an attempt to get the much coveted 10K followers, that offers the swipe up link to accounts, she had her account shared by some larger accounts within her niche. Her niche being minimalist fashion and styling high-street clothes. Due to her account connecting with the algorithm at the right time and style her account was reached by many large accounts that then went on to share her also. Within 6 weeks her account reached 150K an increase of over 144K followers, subsequently jumping further to 282K in under 10 months. 

This is a very specific and rare example but nonetheless a true showcase of how the new algorithm when championed can be exceptionally effective. So maybe the answer on how to champion the issue of algorithm is simply be your best digital self?

Maria Macfarlane is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram and Twitter.