Has Instagram Become Pay to Play?

Instagram Algorithm Changes

Are you feeling annoyed with the new Instagram algorithm? As a marketing agency, we have definitely become accustomed to changing trends (and algorithms!) in the social space. Instagram is a go-to tool for most of our clients - whether they be individuals, businesses or not-for-profits - and the recent drop in organic reach and engagement on this platform has certainly not gone unnoticed.

For some clients, this has looked like a 50% drop in the number of comments, likes, shares and views, which has confirmed our long-time suspicion that Instagram is going the way of Facebook: becoming pay to play.  

(You’ll remember, Facebook did this exact same thing to all business pages a few years ago, in an effort to push paid ads.) 

In our own client tracking, this downward trend in reach and engagement began at the end of May and has been picking up speed ever since.

Across our many industry friends and colleagues, there is a fairly consistent consensus that organic reach has nosedived, with the exception of celebrity accounts, for which high engagement seems to be overriding algorithm changes.

This article by The Drum states that brands now have the option to pay to boost influencer posts as ads into the feeds of non-followers, which supports our theory that IG has moved away from authentic reach towards a paid model. 

Ok, we’ll stop complaining now and offer some positive solutions! Here are a few of the steps you can take to build back up your IG momentum:

  1. Stop using heavily branded images. We’ve noticed that authentic, candid, photographs are way outperforming the slicker branded assets that people once loved to like. Adding your name or URL discreetly on an image post is still fine, like this one, but stay away from posts like this one, which we’ve just discontinued. 

  2. Spend more time interacting with your community. If you build up a group of followers that react/engage with you frequently, IG will show your post to them each time. So it’s important to build up these core groups among your followers to keep them engaged. 

  3. Focus more on IG stories that direct people back to your main Instagram feed. By utilizing IG stories, you can increase the visibility of your profile and potentially, your posts. When you publish a new post, you can add it directly to your IG story and let your followers know to check out your new post. And use stickers to engage your audiences; we love using the Voting, Poll and Question stickers to interact with people in captivating ways. Check out more tips on creating successful and captivating stories in our blog post here

  4. If your budget allows, try some IG ads. You can do this using Facebook Ads Manager to create ads specifically designed for Instagram or promote feed posts through the Instagram platform directly. By using Facebook Ads Manager, you have the option to pick from several objectives, to meet your specific marketing goals. These are Reach, Brand Awareness, Engagement, Video Views and Lead Generation. These ads won’t appear on your Instagram feed itself but will appear in the feeds as a sponsored post for people who fit your target audience. The other option is to simply promote posts which you have already posted to your Instagram feed. This is the IG version of boosting posts. You can choose your target audiences and locations and select where you want to send people (i.e. To view your IG profile, to your website, or to encourage them to send a DM). 

Need some help with any of the above? Get in touch and we’ll let you know how we can manage your social media marketing