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Instagram changed the game.
Here’s how to win.

‘I hate, hate, HATE the new Instagram feed….’

 – chocolatequeennk, on the Instagram news site, in relation to the latest algorithm changes.  Truthfully, I’ve never met this person, but hey, they have ‘chocolate’ in their screen name, so they seem credible to me…


Remember just a few short weeks ago, when the interwebs lost it’s collective shit over Instagram’s timeline changes?  There were tears, there was drama, people threatened to deactivate their accounts, and there was oh so many SHOUTY CAPS.
(Related: what you all should have been outraged about was the new ‘we found this cool new gradient feature in Photoshop!’ logo, but I digress…)

Like it or not, the update is here to stay.  (oh stop it.  I can hear you booing all the way from here.  I don’t make the changes folks, I’m just here to talk about them.)  BUT, the great news is that like any algorithm, it’s pretty easy to get around and force the Gram Overlords to show you exactly what you wanna see.  (or, you know, close enough.)

Wanna bring your Gram A-Game?  School. Is. In. Session.


Firstly, the algorithm prioritises what it thinks you want to see.  Not what’s the most popular.

Which means that if you’re regularly engaging with someone who’s only got a handful of followers and a smattering of likes, their new stuff will generally appear higher up in your feed than Bieber and his two trillion fans.
Great news, you guys.  Because all you need to do is make sure you’re regularly engaging with anyone you want to regularly see – and hey presto, to the prime top three possie they go!
And if you’re the poster instead of the postee??  Encourage engagement.  Ask for recommendations, tips, thoughts.  Reply to every comment, keep the conversation flowing. (Without being weird about it, I should add…)


Also – Instagram needs to make money.  Ads are here to stay.  Minimise the pain by at least making sure you get served up the ‘good’ ads… 

Side note: Advertisers – do better.  A whooooooole lot better.  Dear lord there’s some rubbish from the advertising hall of shame appearing in the sponsored post corner at the moment...

The one thing that’s made a massive difference to me over the last few weeks?  Being overly enthusiastic for the content creators, and digi ghosting my friends (soz guys.  Really, really sorry…)
As much as I luuurve the new bundles of joy in my life at the moment, my over enthusiastic double tapping for every new pic of them doing the same thing they were doing yesterday, just in a different outfit was really hurting my advertiser cred.  It got to the point where the 10 ads in my feed were all for baby/birthing/pregnancy products, that I was starting to take as a passive aggressive nod to my ‘couldn’t be further from kids and marriage thank you very much’ status.

So rethink the double tap fly-by for your squad.  (You know, the automatic like you give to your besties, regardless of the content, because friends.)  Start paying attention to the hashtags.  Make people earn your digital love for things that you actually like.  And engage with brands and products that you’re actually interested in to help boost what ads Instagram thinks are relevant for you.
It’s taken me awhile, but I’ve finally got the luxury brands back in my feed – you know, rather than a four screen promo for the latest pram…

Oh, and don’t forget that we (the pesky brand advertiser) can buy against Facebook data, so anything that you’re doing over there (*coughs* Farmville *coughs*) also counts…


Asking your fans to ‘Turn on Post Notifications’ does SFA.

(that’s ‘sweet eff all’ for those of you not down with the cool kid acronyms.  Sorry Mum.)

Remember that glorious week before the changes rolled out where every fashion blogger and her dog were flooding your feeds with the slightly desperate and definitely hysterical posts begging you to turn on post notifications?  Oh boy.  WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE THAT WAS.
Ok, now stop doing that.  For realz.  Yes, if you ask folks to turn on post notifications, they’ll get a cute little pop up whenever your latest and greatest is posted – you know, alongside the 389,472 other notifications on their iPhone.  But the best bit?  If they’re not already engaging with your content, it’s not going to help your cause at all.

I’ve done a wee bit o’ testing over the last few months – and here’s the deal.  Yes.  If someone turns on post notifications and then also comments and likes your stuff, your content will get priority in their feed.  But no more priority than anyone else who regularly engages with your content.  And (here’s the kicker) that post notification is a pretty redundant CTA.  Once it appears on their screen, they’ve got around about 15 minutes (depending on how many people they’re following), to actually see it at the top of their feed.  If you’re an hour late?  Forget about it, kids.  You be searching for that photo the old fashioned way.


But the number one, best thing you can do?  Just post bloody great content, you guys.


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