April 11, 2016

What does the new Instagram algorithm mean for your business?

You’ve probably heard by now that Instagram is in the testing phases of a new algorithm that changes the original reverse chronological ordering to one based on what you may like or interact with more. The changes are somewhat expected considering Facebook’s current algorithm and the recent change to Twitter’s feed. The continued increase in Instagram users has meant a reordering system is necessary to ensure users are not missing valuable content.

While Instagram insists the changes are “based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post” it’s hard to ignore the monetization factor leading some users to revolt. Small business owners are even heading an online change.org petition to stop the changes from happening with 333,360+ supporters so far. When Facebook made similar changes in 2009, it was small businesses that lost out. The organic reach of their posts became minimal as individuals and sponsored posts were favoured in the new algorithm. Many still boost posts for their content to have any effect.

Strategies to reduce the negative impact of the new changes

You may have seen a number of the accounts you follow asking you to turn on post notifications for their posts over the last few weeks in a desperate plea to remain seen. Turning on post notifications for only a few followers reveals the problematic design of this strategy – it’s so annoying! Receiving a notification every time your favourite accounts post anything quickly becomes too cluttered and troublesome to make any difference at all. No one is going to scroll through hundreds of notification to click through and view your product image.

So, what can you do? Instagram has been kind enough to give us foreknowledge of the changes. This means that while everyone is freaking out about the changes, you have time to implement strategies to ensure your followers are engaging with your content now so that you are at the top of their feed later.

 Tips to promote follower engagement

The aim in this period, before the changes roll out in the coming months, is to try and get as much engagement from your followers as possible so that Instagram puts your content at the top of their feeds in the new ordering system.

1.      Host weekly or daily challenges

As a business owner, you are an expert in you chosen field.  You have the reach and the insight to add serious value to your follower’s life. Your followers will only continue to engage and follow you if you continue to do so.  Depending on your business, you could easily set up a personal or business challenge and invite followers to join in as well as comment or share with other friends. This doesn’t have to be complex or difficult. Take a look at this quick example below:


You can then post a follow-up image later in the week and ask how your followers are going with the thankful challenge? This promotes more comments on your posts as well as encouraging followers who didn’t see the previous post to click through to your account – more engagement!

2.      Utilize a call to action

By now you’re probably familiar with the idea of popping a call to action into your website pages and blog posts. You can use the same strategy in your social media posts too. You’ll see in the above example I asked followers to tag a friend.  There is no shame in doing this! Other examples of a call to action on Instagram are to, ‘Double tap if you agree!’ ‘Example topic is live on the blog now! Link is in our bio.’ The best part about Instagram and social media in general, is you can utilize a conversational tone with your followers and potential clients, presenting yourself as a real person and not just a business.

3.      Have a giveaway or competition

To drive user engagement in the following weeks, consider promoting a giveaway or competition on your account. This doesn’t mean you have to give away thousands of dollars’ worth of products. It could be a simple eBook or product pack made up of products you have in excess or old stock. A giveaway adds value to your followers. If all they have to do is tag a few mates or share your post, there is no barrier for them to engage with you.

4.      Look at your analytics!

Even if you aren’t using an analytics program, you can look over your posts from the last few weeks and take note of user engagement. For example, below are the most recent posts from my personal Instagram.Capture


Take note of:

  1. Type of post
  2. Day of the week (and time if available)
  3. Amount of likes
  4. Amount of comments
Type of post


Day of the week


Amount of likes


Amount of comments
Book I’m reading + quote Wednesday 30 1
Coffee Monday 26 2
Holiday snap Friday 34 1
Art Tuesday 31 1
Wedding photo Thursday 50 0
Food photo Saturday 36 7

From this very small amount of data, I could make a decision to post more food and wedding photos on weekends to optimise my chances of my followers engaging with my posts by likes and comments. The trick is to keep collecting data, keep collating it, and keep refining your content strategy. Monitor what does best and continue to chase after that. I would suggest a similar strategy with hashtags.  Monitor what works well and what doesn’t. Keep an eye on trending hashtags to see if you could implement them into your posts and then monitor how well they work.

5.      Try Instagram advertising

Don’t shy away from boosting posts or implementing a paid campaign. The results are that these campaigns are very successful when done correctly so it’s important to get them right. Use this time to refine your paid strategy or to hire someone who can do them well for you.

Want more strategies?

Have these been helpful for you? Surf Pacific has plenty more strategies where these came from. Get in touch with us today to see how we can drastically increase the engagement of your Instagram posts.