Instagram Marketing

What changes has Instagram made in 2019 and how can you survive them?

Instagram has a whopping 1 billion active users every month. Of these users, over 500 million are active on the platform every single day.

And it’s not just pretty pictures of cats, clothes and celebrities. It’s an invaluable space for brands and businesses to drive real results.

60% of people use the app to seek out and discover new products. A massive 75% take action after looking at a brand’s post. With a massive 80% of users following at least one business account, Instagram is the place to be to connect your brand with you audience.

But, as with everything in the world of digital, the goal posts are always changing when it comes to Instagram. And 2019 is no exception. This is the year that we’ve seen the trailing of hiding ‘likes’, the introduction of Instagram shopping and further changes to the elusive Instagram algorithm.

There’s no need to pack in and head home just yet, however – Report Central to the rescue!

In this article we’ll talk you through the major changes to Instagram that every business should know about and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.

So, what’s the number one change on every one’s minds?

Like it or not – Instagram tests hiding likes

As we speak Instagram is testing a brand new feature that hides the number of ‘likes’ that a post receives. As explained by an Instagram spokesperson:

We’re testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”

The trail is currently being rolled out in the following seven countries:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • New Zealand

Although users will still be able to see how many likes their own content has received, this figure will be kept private.

These changes come off the back of several studies that repeatedly link social media to negative impacts on mental health.

It’s uncertain if the feature will be rolled out worldwide, many users are wondering exactly how it will affect them.

Well, ‘likes’ will still be part of the platform and will continue to be a metric that will be used by the app to determine the quality and relevance of content. This means that posts with more likes will still be prioritised in the algorithm.

However, because ‘likes’ won’t be public, you will need to focus on gaining engagement in other ways: enter comments. How many comments a post receives will now be the main indicator to other users of how well your post is performing.

Think about it this way – right now, when we see a post with thousands of likes it catches our attention. It’s easy to jump on the band wagon and double click to join the thousands of others who have liked that post.

This is why in the new world, of Instagram, comments will be more important than ever.

What this means for businesses is that it’s time to begin strategizing real ways to generate discussion on your posts.

A few ideas to get users commenting and engaging with your content include:

  • Ask questions: people love offering their opinions and viewpoints so how better encourage them to do so than by asking them their thoughts and viewpoints?
  • Always reply to comments: responding to comments shows your users you care and encourages them to comment in the future. This is also a great way to spark further conversion in the comments section.
  • Encourage users to tag their friends in the comments: ask your followers to tag friends they think would enjoy the content.
  • Post funny, original, provocative content: content that gets people talking gets people commenting.
  • Run competitions and giveaways: these are great ways to encourage people to comment on your posts.

Will Influencer marketing retain its influence?

 

Many businesses and brands who use influencer marketing as a key marketing strategy may be wondering whether these changes will impact their influencer collaborations.

Will it change who you work with? Will it change how you work with them?

Well one thing is for certain – despite this massive change, Instagram is set to remain the key influencer marketing channel. A whopping 99% of influencers in 2018 could be found on Instagram. Between 2017-2018 alone Instagram saw a 39% rise of sponsored influencer activity. What’s more, these figures are merely forecast to rise.

Instagram will remain the place to be for businesses and influencers alike. ‘Likes’ may not be public, but this doesn’t mean influencers can’t measure success through other metrics. Instagram will continue to offer in-depth engagement analytics.

So, there’s no need to panic just yet.

One area this may affect is who you work with.

With the removal of the ‘likes’ counter, it may be more difficult for brands to identify new influencers to work with.

This might encourage brands to make the shift towards moving away from one-off influencer relationships. Brands may move towards forming strategic, lasting partnerships with influencers.

These types of relationships will not only ensure a fruitful partnership. It will also mean that the influencer’s content appears more authentic to their followers. Building up your brand’s credibility amongst their audience. This is important considering that 71% of influencers state that an honest and authentic voice keeps their audience engaged.

For more help on acing your influencer marketing strategy in 2019 and beyond check out our handy ultimate guide for everything you need to know.

So, what else is set to rock the world of Instagram influencer marketing?

Ca-ching – Instagram Trails its very own Checkout

That’s right, you may soon be able to buy products directly from your favourite influencers.

With almost 35% of Instagram users having purchased something they found on the app, clearly it holds huge commercial power. It’s no surprise that Instagram is currently testing this new ecommerce feature which will make purchasing directly on the app even easier.

The brand-new shopping tag will let influencers tag products in their posts meaning their followers can purchase the product without having to leave the app.

Prior to this, the feature has been exclusively reserved for businesses selling products. So, what will this mean for the world of influencer marketing?

Until today influencers had no direct way to sell the products they were promoting. With the introduction of the shopping tag influencers can directly prove how many sales they have brought in for a brand.

This new feature will make it much easier for brands to track ROI from their influencer marketing campaigns and identify which influencers are bringing in the most value for them.

If your business works with influencers this will make it far easier to refine which influencers you work with to ensure maximum returns for your budget. That’s good news for your brand and your budget.

Expand your horizons – Instagram introduces Ads in the Explore section

 

Over an eighth of the planet are active Instagram users. But it’s not all about how many people use Instagram, it’s about who these people are.

Instagrammers are shoppers. 70% of users state that they’ve looked up a brand on the app whilst 62% use it to follow brands.

If your business has a visual presence, then Instagram is clearly the place to be to get your products found. After all, Instagram helps 80% of users decide whether to buy a product or service.

It’s no surprise then that there are 2 million monthly advertisers on Instagram. Instagram Ads are a hugely powerful way to get your content seen by even more people. But not just any people, a highly targeted audience.

So when Instagram announced that it was set to expand ads to its Explore section it was welcomed by businesses everywhere.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Explore section, it’s the part of the app that shows users content it thinks they will like and engage with based upon their current Instagram habits.

Instagrammers typically use this section to find new accounts to follow or new products to discover.

It’s a section dedicated to discovery. So the news that Instagram will be incorporating ads in this section is great news for businesses everywhere.

With users flocking to the Explore section specifically to find inspiration, placing an ad here has the potential to draw powerful returns. Think more impressions, views and engagement from a highly targeted audience.

What’s more, increased ad placements means that average cost per ad is forecast to stabilise. Increased supply will meet increasing demand which is great news for businesses who want to invest in ads without breaking the bank.

Debunking the myths – understanding the Instagram Algorithm in 2019

 

Back in 2016 Instagram got rid of its chronological feed. Since then, lots of rumours have been flying around about how the Instagram algorithm really works. With further changes made to the elusive Instagram algorithm in 2019 the question on every marketer’s lips is how to use the algorithm to their advantage to ensure that your content is seen by as many users as possible.

What we do know is that in 2019 there are 3 top ranking signals the algorithm uses to rank content:

  • Relationship: Instagram’s algorithm prioritises content from accounts that other users interact with regularly. That means that if users often leave comments on your posts, have turned on post notifications for your content or direct message you, Instagram recognises this and rewards your content.
  • Interest: Instagram predicts what content is important to users based on their past behaviour, similar to the Facebook algorithm. This means that users who enjoy landscape photography are more likely to see landscapes at the top of their feed and within the Explore section.
  • Timeliness: although Instagram’s algorithm hasn’t returned back to chronological order, it does show more recent content higher up in user’s feeds. For businesses, this means that it is hugely important to take note of their audiences’ behaviour and post when they are most active.

With that in mind, how can you ensure that your brand survives the Instagram algorithm in 2019?

  • Post to a regular timetable: although this doesn’t mean you should compromise on quality, if you can achieve quality and quantity you’re on to a winner. As the algorithm prioritises more recent content, make sure you post at a time that your audience are most active to ensure as many people see your content as possible. Simply head over to Insights, click on Audience, scroll to the bottom and you’ll find the hours your audience are most active each day. If your audience are most active outside of working hours it could be beneficial to make use of scheduling tools.
  • Make it personal: the algorithm aims to share and promote content to users who have a relationship with your account. Aim to create relationships and connections with your audience authentically by chatting with your followers, replying to their comments, asking them questions, asking their opinions, liking other user’s content and commenting on other’s post.
  • Ask people to turn on notifications: although you don’t want to come across as desperate, if you can gently remind your audience to turn on notifications for your posts Instagram will sit up and take note. Users who have turned notifications on are also more likely to see your content and in turn engage with it.
  • Use hashtags: hashtags exist to make your content visible to accounts that may not follow you but have an interest in your area or niche. That’s why it’s important to use hashtags well: aim to use them to establish exactly what your post is about. Do not misuse hashtags as this doesn’t come off well.
  • Share amazing content: Instagram has explicitly stated that a great way to boost your content’s presence in user’s feeds is to consistently post amazing content. Posting low-quality images won’t get you anywhere. There are loads of editing tools out there, including Instagram’s own inbuilt photo editor or apps such as VSCO. If you are looking to build professional graphics and posters try out Canva which is free and easy to use, or for video check out free tools such as Ripl.

 

Sticking to these guidelines and tips are a sure-fire way to play the Instagram algorithm to your advantage.

Next Steps – ready to ace your Instagram marketing strategy in 2019?

 

Like everything in the world of digital, Instagram is constantly evolving.  2019 is no exception. With lots of significant changes on the horizon, it’s never been so important to stay one step ahead.

For more help and advice on how you can ride the wave and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to marketing your business on Instagram the Report Central team are here to help. We don’t just help you gain followers, we attract followers that generate leads and ultimately become customers. Now that’s a fine art indeed.

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