Five ways to build your brand with Instagram’s new algorithm

Pauline Morrissey

When we first caught news regarding Instagram’s new algorithm update, our response was much like that of the seven stages of a relationship breakup:

Desperate For Answers: “What’s wrong with the way it is?”

Denial: “This can’t actually be happening?”

Bargaining: “If you change the way it is, you’ll force me to go elsewhere.”

Relapse: “OK, I really need Instagram for my business.”

Anger: “You damn money hungry machines!”

Initial Acceptance: “Please turn on our notification.”

Redirected Hope: “I need to learn to swim with it and not against it.”

Now that the rollout is here to stay, the need to take control of the changes, instead of fearing how they will hurt a business's bottom line is crucial. Rolling with the punches and being able to adapt is how brands will thrive. Here’s how:

Content is king

Instagram is first and foremost a visually driven platform, so it’s only obvious that the first thing to consider would be the quality of your visual content. Before the algorithm update, brands were comforted by the simple math of; number of followers, equals the number of people who are likely to see your post. However, the new change has added a challenge to this equation, whereby if a particular post receives low engagement (likes and comments), it’s likely that the post will be bumped down the order, or in some cases, not be seen at all.

To prevent this, always think quality over quantity. Take time in considering what type of posts will likely attract the most likes and comments from your followers.

Build a community

Julie Stevanja, co-founder of Stylerunner shared her tips with The Entourage earlier this year, regarding the importance of growing a loyal ‘tribe’ and knowing exactly who your target market is and what your messaging is to them.

“It’s crucial to be authentic in your messaging as this will be what starts to create raving fans, says Stevanja. “If you want to attract the right people for your business think about your overall ‘vibe’. It shouldn’t be about just posting product posts, it’s about asking yourself, ‘What do our audience want to be reading and looking at?’”

With just short of half a million followers, Stylerunners social strategy to build a community seems to be an effective one, with many customers providing comments like ‘If Stylerunner was a person, they would be my BFF’.

Consider ‘Green Brain’ marketing for your captions

Keeping in mind the difference between our Red Brain vs Green Brain when it comes to curating the captions of your Instagram posts is also very important. But what in the world is a Green Brain? To put it simply: Red = stop, green = go.

Our Red Brain is the left hand side of the brain that focuses on the analytical aspects of life, triggered by words like price, money and cost; hence why people are less likely to engage with these types of advertorial captions. Whereby our Green Brain is based entirely on emotions, triggered by words like love, happy, and enjoyment; using conversational type captions allow barriers to fall down, which in turn, brings about more engagement.

In short, a well thought out caption, will bring your image to life and help your followers relate to you and your content, as well as help your brand find a personal voice.

Keep calm and trust influencers

Right now, the synergy between brand and influencer is where new opportunities for growth exists. Moving forward, brands will increasingly be seen and engaged with, through the creative lens of social influencers. Think of them like modern-day celebrities, who through collaboration, will help increase your reach, brand awareness, and show people that you’re paying attention to trends.

Aaron Brooks, co-founder of influencer marketing company VAMP says, “At the end of the day, the new Instagram algorithm is not something to be grumped over, gamed or paid off. It’s not a new code you need to solve or an obstacle course to negotiate.” He continues, “Rather, it’s a swift current that brands need to learn to swim with and not against. And the strongest swimmers are already the influencers, so why not catch a ride?”

Engage much more

Commenting on and liking photos of followers and potential followers has always been a key strategy for both growing a following and keeping followers actively engaged. Now that these changes are happening, this strategy should become an even more important part of your daily Instagram routine.

The key to keeping your posts in the feeds of followers lies in the engagement your content receives. Keeping engagement high will ensure Instagram takes notice, showing your content to followers. The more time you spend engaging with other users content, the more they will reciprocate, bumping you up in the algorithm.

Pauline Morrissey

Pauline is a Sydney-based journalist for Domain and is frequently featured amongst various Fairfax Media mastheads including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

There are entrepreneurs out there who can take the pain out of Instagram – and you can read about them here. There are many start-ups and businesses who have made the most of social media platforms to promote their business. It really works! Neil and his curls will tell you.