Okay, we have a confession to make.
When we first heard all the commotion about Instagram changing their settings so that feeds will be based on Facebook-esque algorithms as opposed to showing up in chronological order, panic ensued and we jumped right on the worry train and asked our followers to please turn on Post Notifications to be sure they wouldn’t miss our posts.
As it turns out, there’s more to the story. We teamed up with Elizabeth, owner and maker of super cute kids gear at Wooly Doodle, to shed a little light on the subject via a little Q&A action. We’re also sharing some tips on how you can get people to see your photos without having to inundate them with alerts every time you post. Everybody wins!
Wilde: Thanks for joining us, Elizabeth! Okay, first question. Can you lay it out for us? What’s the deal with these new Instagram settings?
Elizabeth: First, let me start off by saying I’m no expert, nor do I have any secret intel on this infamous algorithm. I’m just a small business owner who also had her ‘turn notifications on’ post drafted until I started poking around a bit. Truthfully, there are a lot of unknowns. We don’t know exactly when this change will happen and we don’t know if it will be a mandatory feature (currently you can turn off Twitter’s algorithm and on Facebook you can set your feed to show ‘most recent posts’ rather than ‘top stories’). Heck, we don’t even know if turning notifications on will guarantee people will see all your posts. All we know is that things will probably change and now, more than ever, we need to make sure we are building strong relationships and moments on all our social platforms.
Wilde: So how does this affect small businesses, like us?
Elizabeth: Simply put, if this change happens the way we think it will, your Instagram feed will no longer show posts in chronological order. You will see posts based on what Instagram thinks you want to see. Instagram claims that we miss about 70 per cent of posts on average the way things are and I believe that. I rarely have time to scroll endlessly through my feed and often find myself looking up accounts of friends or brands manually to see what they’re up to. To understand what this means for small businesses we can make a few assumptions:
– There’s a risk that your followers might not see all of your content
– If they engage with your feed by way of likes or comments, there’s a good chance that your content will stay in their feed
– If you use only Instagram to promote your business and you don’t spend the time engaging with your followers, you might need to rethink your social media strategy
I’m a firm believer in quality interactions over the quantity of followers you may have. Spend the time creating genuine interactions with your followers and make sure that you’re not just relying on one single social media tool to carry your brand — Instagram should just be one component of your brand ecosystem.
Wilde: “Brand ecosystem” — love it! So should people be turning notifications on at all?
Elizabeth: I think this is really a personal preference. I’ve tested out the notifications feature myself and I have to be honest – I find it to be a bit annoying. First of all, if I turned on notifications for all the accounts I love, my phone would constantly be buzzing with alerts. That, I don’t love. Also, when you get a notification pop-up, it doesn’t send you directly to the post. You still have to manually go to that account or scroll through your feed to see the content. I think that the notification has its place but is best used for times when you don’t want to miss out on something time-bound that might be happening — like if a page is running a contest or dropping a new product.
Wilde: What are some of the ways you engage with your Wooly Doodle followers?
Elizabeth: I love involving my followers in my process. I find Instagram to be a great platform for getting feedback and helping me make decisions on where to take my business. I will often post different product ideas or ask my followers for feedback on different fabrics that I might incorporate into my seasonal lines. I tend to get high engagement on those types of posts and think that my followers really appreciate being able to share their opinions. I also try to give something back to them because social has to be a two-way street. When I launched my spring line, I opened it up early for all my eager Instagram followers and I have a few giveaways lined up that should be a lot of fun. I think it’s also important to note that having a loyal following takes time to build — I’ve only just begun. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, reach out to people, collaborate and be responsive — I like to call it “couch networking.”
Elizabeth makes great points and we 100 per cent agree that the ultimate goal here is to get people interested in what you’re sharing versus pushing it on them. Here are five quick tips to building a kickass brand on Instagram, that people truly want to engage with:
1. Be original
Discover what makes you stand out and run with it. Maybe it’s the humour in your captions; maybe it’s the certain style of photography you feature, or the crazy niche product you offer. Whatever it is, focus on it and the fanbase will follow, stay and grow!
2. Share meaningful content
Share content that is directly targeted at your audience, addresses a common problem they have, provides value, and presents original research or thought.
3. Humanize your business
Popular Instagram accounts all have something in common: their photos are typically personable, relatable and can’t be duplicated. Take and share photos that are unique, humanize your business and connect with your audience.
4. Have a clear CTA
A great way to spark engagement on your page is to include a call-to-action (CTA) on your posts. For example, ask your followers to “Double tap if you like X.” “Comment below to share your favourite Y.” “Check out the link in our bio to read about Z.”
Treat other Instagrammers the way you’d like to be treated. If you want to get new likes, comments and followers, do the same for others. One-way conversations don’t work, so dedicate time to perusing your feed/ favourite pages on the regular, and engage by doing some double-tapping and commenting of your own.
Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed our post and that you’re able to take away some useful information to help ensure your followers see your great Instagram posts. Do you have anything to add, or additional questions for either of us? We’d love to hear your ideas or questions in the comments!
PS: Wooly Doodle just launched their Spring line and there aren’t even words for how adorable everything is. You can check out the cuteness and order some awesome handmade goods for the littles in your lives via her Etsy shop. They’re also on Facebook and Instagram if you want to follow along.