Why the New Instagram Algorithm Isn't "The Devil"

I run the risk of dating myself, but does anyone remember the movie, The Waterboy?? Well if you don't remember, or haven't seen it, the main character's mother calls just about everything "The Devil" to keep her baby boy from ever leaving home. Women? The Devil. Sports? The Devil. Education? The Devil. You get the picture. 

Why do I bring this up? Because, even if we hate to admit it, we ALL react this way sometimes. For example, Instagram just announced that it will be switching from a chronological order to an algorithm based ordering system... and then the internet exploded.

First off, I need to admit that my first response was to light a torch, get my pitch fork ready, and join the mob. The idea that Instagram would be reordering content based on relevancy put me in crisis mode as a small buisness owner - especially as everyone started to compare the algorithm to Facebook! Basically my buisness fears were as follows:

  • My posts will no longer have equal opportunity 
  • I won't be able to see new posts and engage with new people 
  • My content would only be seen if I create a paid ad 
  • I'll never have free marketing again
  • I'm going to have to find something new   

Ok, now that that's out of the way, it's time to take a deep breath and return to reality. 

REALITY CHECK   

  • The new algorithm is NEEDED. Instagram is bigger than it ever has been and it's harder than ever to keep up with the pages and posts and matter most. Instagram estimates that, on average, users miss 70% of their feed!  
  • It's not over. Chronological order was NOT Instagram's only appeal for creative business owners. Don't discount the mobile first experience, simplicity, and share-ability/hashtags etc. 
  • Posts won't be removed, just reordered. While this might not give many comfort, it is compelling to know that if someone works hard enough, they can see it all. 
  • Instagram, Twitter, Facebook - they don't owe me anything. Ouch, but it's true. I've loved these social media outlets (well except Twitter... I'll never figure out Twitter) for the free marketing, but it's time to get creative, because they don't owe me anything for free.
  • Social media is ALWAYS changing. There's no way to get around that.

Finding the opportunity

I've always found the most inspiring people to be the ones that see opportunities where others see problems. I think this is the right time to analyze this change, and reimagine the Instagram strategy, not condemn the entire platform.  

So many business owners are concerned that they will lose what they love most about Instagram - equal opportunity to be heard, the idea that someone with 5 followers has the same weight as someone with 5 million.

But here's the thing, if we put so much time and energy into creating powerful content, then why shouldn't we embrace that valuable content will now win above all others? Feel empowered that if we do our jobs right, our posts will now reach farther than they ever have before!

If that hasn't convinced you, then maybe think about how fickle Instagram followers can be. Have you ever posted a picture that's more personal (and less on-brand) and LOST followers from that ONE post? That's because the chronological order isn't always a good thing. It makes feed real estate hyper valuable to users. 

The second someone sees something they aren't in love with, they unfollow and remove you from their lives forever. Yikes! That's a hard game to play since there's NEVER a second opportunity to wow or inspire. My assumption, and that's all it is, is that when Instagram changes it's algorithm to serve the right content to the right users, it will change how cut-throat followers are. 

Think about it. If you share personal, business, education, products, advertisements - that's A LOT of different content. Users might be highly interested in personal and education and not want to see ANYTHING else. In the current model, their more likely to hit "unfollow" because the posts that are less interesting to them are given the same value as their friend's new kitten, and they had to scroll past your posts to get there!  

Basically, I'm looking forward to Instagram helping me share my diverse content with the people who are most interested in it. 

I think there's a lot more to get into, but without testing the new algorithm in action, this is all theory. For now, I'm embracing this new challenge and convinced, more than ever, that content is king regardless of what order it shows up in. 

 
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