Instagram Update Benefits Brand Marketers

Last week Instagram announced a big change for its users; we will now be able to follow a hashtag like we would a specific account. This update, coupled with the migration to an algorithm-based feed from chronological, has big implications for users.

An individual will be able to create a robust feed based on their interests without following a single account. It wouldn’t be how I choose to consume content but it is entirely possible. Brands have learned to leverage influencers with large follower counts and curated lifestyle posts to share sponsored content as a new form of marketing. For current and aspiring #Influencers monetizing an account based on follower volume, traditionally a largely defining metric, now becomes difficult. The update will likely increase the importance of actual views/interactions. This shift further illustrates the need for more robust analytics on the platform.

While personal influencer accounts may have an adjustment period, business accounts have a lot to gain from this change. This gives accounts a new avenue to increase their follower count, engagement, and their place in their followers’ algorithm. My advice:

  • Make something meaningful - Instagram is a highly visual platform that can build your brand in a more efficient manner than text posts. Your content should help create an easily identifiable visual aesthetic for your clients/customers to understand who you. Plan your content, create moments to communicate your brand, share User Generated Content (UGC) that fits within your brand, and be authentic. Your feed should feel curated, not forced; if you recycle the same type of shot ad nauseam you will lose audience interest, your interactions will decrease, and you’ll be placed lower in the algorithm.

  • Be a little creepy - Research your followers to understand which hashtags they follow, which of your own posts seem to spike your interactions or increase your followers, and how your competitors are using hashtags within their posts. Use the information you gather into to develop, or fine tune, your Instagram strategy.

  • Hashtag with purpose - Pick a group of hashtags that fit your brand, try to stay within those as much as possible. Granted, your strategy will change and develop, anomalies will occur, but don’t throw a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

  • DO NOT HASHTAG SPAM - Throwing random, well-followed, hashtags on your posts just to get more eyes on your content accomplishes nothing. It doesn’t gain you meaningful followers, it does not increase your engagement, it does not enhance your brand. Don’t do it.

  • Spend wisely - Facebook and Instagram make it very easy to boost a post, that doesn’t mean you should. Every dollar of your budget matters; if you choose to put some money behind a post, make it one that matters. Boost a post that has a specific Call to Action, one that asks a user to do something that deepens their connection to you, or hits a measurable metric other than a Like.

As platforms shift their user experience, brands and marketers alike have the opportunity to review and improve strategies to better reach and engage with their key consumer groups. All we ask is that you do it with purpose.  


Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash