WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM

 What you need to know about the new instagram algorithm - The Little Plantation

NOTE: This blog post is part 17 of my INSTAGRAM SERIES - content all about helping YOU manage your way around instagram. In the INSTAGRAM SERIES I've touched on subjects such as why am I losing followers on instagram , how instagram is trying to get rid of (food) bloggers and how to get paid influencer work on instagram. Just click here to find all the other parts in the series. Now on with today's post!

DISCLAIMER: One of my lovely creative community members, Roberta alerted me to the article I will be referencing through this blog post. Thank you Roberta. So grateful.

It has been a while and a half since I've penned a piece for the instagram series; that's because it's been all kinds of busy behind the scenes at The Little Plantation HQ. But with instagram's unprecedented move to speak openly about how their algorithms really work and whether the shadow ban is or isn't a thing, I HAD to create another part in my popular blog series. So according to this article here's what they said in a nutshell and - more importantly - here's what it means for you as a (food) blogger, instagrammer and influencer. 

 

INSTAGRAM CONFIRMED THAT THEIR ALGORITHMS ARE AFFECTED BY...

  • ENGAGEMENT

So this isn't exactly brand new information; we've known for a while that the number of comments and likes you get on your instagram picture greatly affects how many people actually see your post. What has been interesting though is that we're now also getting confirmation that these likes and comments need to happen quite early after you post on your instagram grid if not, you're doomed ;)! 

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU...

Timing your posts correctly will be really important again. Hence, check your stats, see what time of the day your audience is present and post at the perfect time. In other words don't post your best work after boozy night out at 12 midnight when the majority of your audience are fast asleep and cannot comment on your post :p. 

TROUBLESHOOTING

Just one thing to think about here - your best time is likely to be the best time for many people in the country you live in. So posting at your ideal time may mean you have more competition to contend with. 

  • RELATIONSHIPS

Please always remember that instagram is a business and it's in instagram's interest to have happy costumers (which I talked about a bit more here in this post). Hence the fact that instagram is prioritising posts by friends and family and others you have a close relationship with is no surprise; people complained A LOT about not seeing posts by their friends and relatives last year and instagram clearly listened.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU...

If, like me, you use instagram for business purposes only and don't follow your parents or your neighbour's cat's account, how would instagram know who you have a close relationship with? Though we don't know for sure, my guess is that they determine this based on who you DM, whose posts you comment on, etc. In short who ever you engage with the most instagram will consider your buddy.    

  • HOW LONG PEOPLE SPEND ON YOUR POST

If people 'just' click heart and move on, it ain't gonna serve you in the instagram algorithm. No, instagram wants people to stay on their app for as long as possible and will hence promote accounts that encourage their audience to do just that. So freakin' clever!!!! Instagram is basically using us to keep everyone hooked! 

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU...

The more engaging your image and caption is, the better you'll do in the instagram algorithm. In other words likes are good, comments are better. Does this mean 5 words captions will soon be a thing of the past? I think so.

BTW thinking this point through, it is one of the reasons videos and the carousel slide show do a bit better - you're keeping your audience engaged for longer ;). 

  • TIMING

Let's be clear, instagram is NOT (ever) going back to a chronological feed, but as a result of the brief rise (and fall) of VERO, and constant pestering by the instagram community, instagram have responded and are favouring more recent posts over old ones whilst still letting the algorithms do their thing. It's a compromise that should make our experience better. BTW I mentioned this back in March, but it's only now instagram have officially 'fessed up. 

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU...

Timing is oh so important once again!

  • AND YOUR LIKES, SEARCHES, SHARES AND PREFERENCES

If you're always searching for #vegan in your discovery feed, liking images of buddha bowls, commenting on hamster pictures or DM-ing the same kind of shots to your best friends, instagram's algorithms will present you with more of the same. No big news here, right? (Except for the fact that they keep an eye on our private DMs. That's kinda freaky). But good to have it black on white. 

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU...

Tired of seeing the same type of content again and again? Then don't comment or like those posts anymore. Instagram's algorithms learn really fast and will start showing you other stuff before you know it.

 What you need to know about the new instagram algorithm - The Little Plantation

INSTAGRAM ALSO REVEALED THAT...

  • THE SHADOW BAN DOES NOT EXIST!

According to this article by Tech Crunch, who were present when Instagram held its press release, my speculations - which I wrote about in this blog post written back in May, 2017 - have been confirmed: The shadow ban doesn't exist

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU...

Please read my blog post on the 'shadow ban', it should answers all your shadow ban questions.  

  • LIVE VIDEOS WILL NO LONGER BE PUSHED TO THE FOREFRONT

When instagram first launched its LIVE feature it was keen to promote its use and consequently favoured those who used it. (I wrote a blog post about it here if you want to get up to speed about the ins and outs of going LIVE on instagram), It's in part why I started my LIVE masterclasses and why many others moved their content to the LIVE setting. However, instagram now announced that LIVE videos will no longer be given front row seats :(. Instead it will have to fight it out on the algorithm battle field, just like all other instagram stories.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU...

The big question is - should we still be going LIVE on instagram if there's no algorithmical benefit? It's of course up to you. I for one will continue going LIVE a few times a year. It's THE best way to connect with your audience, nothing compares. PLUS it's also a lot of fun. However, this change makes me realise yet again that instagram is a funny beast and it's NOT a good idea to put all my eggs in the instagram basket. Therefore, I will be exploring other platforms for my masterclasses come 2019, where I have more power in bringing my content to the people who will benefit from it most.  

NOTE!

I went LIVE recently for my instagram food photography challenge and viewer numbers were pretty slightly higher than usual. My take on it? If you want your LIVES to do well you gotta promote it in the run up and make them engaging.

Furthermore the same algorithms outlined in today's blog post apply. Hence if you get lots of comments, likes and shares on your LIVE video, instagram will bump it up and show it to a bigger audience. I mean, think about it, LIVE videos lend themselves to good engagements which is why I think they'll continue to do well despite the official down ranking. 

  • YOUR INSTAGRAM STORIES AND HIGHLIGHTS WILL NO LONGER HELP YOUR ALGORITHM

A bummer I have to say as I put a lot of thought into my stories :s. This shift means that some of the advice about highlights in this blog post are now outdated. (Other parts TOTALLY still apply, so have a quick read if you haven't already ;)).

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU...

However, before you ditch your stories strategy, let me say this: Stories are a great way to connect to your audience more authentically and to build a bond between you and your followers. Hence, if you're enjoying stories, please don't stop. It won't serve you so much on the algorithm front, but it will serve you in connecting with the people that care about your content most. 

IMPORTANT UPDATE!

As of June 2018, instagram is making the instagram stories of the accounts you follow 'stick' at the top of your instagram panel view, even as you scroll down. Ultimately this is to allow and encourage (!?) you to watch stories even after you've started scrolling. Though they aren't giving you extra brownie points for publishing a story they clearly STILL want us to check into eachother's stories. Hmm, the plot thickens... 

I hope this summary was helpful. Will you be changing gear following instagram's algorithm confessions or is it business as usual? Let me know, I'd love to know.

 

NEED MORE INSTAGRAM HELP?

Then why not sign up to my 1-2-1 instagram mentoring sessions? Alternatively you can attend my first 1-day small business and blogger London mastermind where we'll spend the afternoon devising a social media strategy that works. It will be held on Sunday, September 23rd and you can read all about the day here.  

Before you go, don't forget to subscribe to my mailing list so you can be sure you don't miss a single part of my INSTAGRAM SERIES. In addition, mailing list subscribers hear about my 1-2-1 food photography class dates first, get access to my FREE creative community and also get a special discount when they book a 2 hour instagram coaching sessionYou can subscribe to the mailing list below

Thanks for reading everyone. See you next week.