If you’ve gone on Instagram at any point in the past few days, or have even just read any blog or news site online, you probably know that the photo app is changing its algorithm and that people are freaking out.
Instagram has always shown users photos in reverse chronological order, but it’s planning–or at least was planning–on rolling out a new algorithm to prioritize the most relevant and interesting photos.
While apparently some users already have the new setup, rumor had it that everyone was going to experience Instagram’s algorithm change today. This set of a barrage of posts by millions of users urging their followers to turn on post notifications for them, lest their photos and videos get caught in the shuffle and go relatively unnoticed. Here’s just a small sampling of what we’ve all seen.
Yes, it’s been extremely annoying. However, it’s understandable that people who derive their living from Instagram are panicking. That said, with the current reverse-chronological order, the average user overlooks about 70% of their feed. The algorithm change could actually boost visibility and engagement for brands, influencers, and us regular people.
Regardless, Instagram’s algorithm change isn’t happening quite yet. The company tweeted that “nothing is changing with…[the] feed right now.” A rep also told Business Insider that they have “months or even weeks of testing to go” before launching the new algorithm for everyone.
So what can brands do to cope with the eventual changes? Here are 21 tips to help your posts do their best…
- Track everything. It’s crucial to figure out what types of posts do best with your audience. Everything from hashtags to captions to filters to posting time matters, so don’t overlook it!
- Focus on education and entertainment over promotion. Entrepreneur mentions the great example of West Elm. The home goods company doesn’t post photos with bold logos and doesn’t write captions with overt marketing language. Instead, they provide a mix of DIY projects, recipes, user generated content, and product laydowns.
- Use captions to ask questions. This fosters a dialogue between you and your audience.
- Show off your team. Everyone likes the feeling of having a backstage pass, and you deserve to flaunt all the effort that goes on behind the scenes.
- Experiment with guest Instagrammers to drive more traffic to your account.
- Highlight your customers by reposting their photos. This is also a great way to solicit more wonderful visual commerce contributions.
- Engage with your audience by commenting on and liking their photos. This is sure to generate even more interest in your page.
- Be playful and show off your brand’s sense of humor.
- Take advantage of geotags. Checking into locations on Instagram will give your posts extra reach, and will give posts from your office stronger branding.
- Don’t forget that you’re telling a story! Take a moment to think about the purpose of each photo and what it’s communicating to your audience.
- 11 hashtags are the optimal account for engagement, according to Kissmetrics, although putting that many hashtags on every photo can seem very heavy-handed. We recommend only using 1-2 hashtags in most of your photos.
- The best times for posting are 2 AM and 5 PM EST, while the two worst times are 9 AM and 6 PM. Interesting how much an hour can affect a photo!
- Don’t miss out on the chance to monetize your presence with minimal effort by enabling Instagram shopping. Social Annex’s new Instagram shopping solution, Shoppic, is debuting soon, complete with flexible product association, zero implementation time, and instant gratification. It lets you focus on creating amazing content instead of pushing a sale.
- Keep your captions short.
- Don’t forget a call to action!
In terms of photography…
- Filtered images have significantly higher engagement than unfiltered.
- Greater warmth, exposure, and contrast in pictures get more likes. Refinery29 recommends, in terms of in-app filters, Mayfair, Rise, Valencia, Hefe, Nashville, Lark, Slumber, and Aden.
- Product laydowns with 3-5 products get better engagement. Space them in a square and use a textured but not overwhelming backdrop to add more depth to the photo.
- Indoor photos with people are far more common than outdoor photos without people. This can be ammunition for doing more of what’s popular, or going against the grain–it all depends on your audience.
- Embrace natural light and white space.
- Consider underexposing your photos for more subtlety.