Instagram Algorithm Changes And How It Impacts Business

On June 30th the Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri announced publicly that Instagram was “No longer just a square photo-sharing app.” The news made waves around the internet, but should be no surprise to anyone who has paid close attention to the social media’s progression. With the seemingly new trajectory we felt it’d be advantageous to look at how the app has changed and where it’s going.

2010: Instagram’s Beginnings

Over a decade ago Instagram launched with it’s inaugural photo of it’s cofounder’s dog. 10 years ago Instagram was a chronological square-photo app, posting was simple, and the user base rather niche. Remember photo borders? Yeah things have changed a lot since then.

Within a few years Instagram exploded and became the social media heavyweight we all know today. As the years advanced the app changed as well. In 2016 for instance, rather than having posts appear chronologically, users began to see them ranked by importance. This was the introduction of Instagram’s algorithm.

The algorithm, still in use today and helps users and advertisers make use of targeted interest data. In a recent video Mosseri talked thoroughly about how exactly this works. Most importantly he noted that it functions differently across different sections of app (Posts, Stories, Explore, and Reels). A simplified summation is that Posts and Stories show videos and photos from people you follow, while Explore and Reels send these from you accounts you don’t follow, but that match your interests. IE if someone who has similar interests as you engages content, they can predict you likely will as well. So why more video?

2021 and Beyond

Data drives everything nowadays. Today Instagram ranks fourth* in Social Media apps behind Facebook, Youtube, and Whatsapp. As of April 2021 its monthly worldwide users was well over one billion. However the landscape is greatly changing. 

Look at for example at the usage of apps by US teens. From 2016-2019 Instagram slowly grew within the demographic. However, in 2020 something happened that dropped the percentage of by 10%: TikTok. 

With the rapid rise of TikTok, Instagram in 2019 introduced “Reels” a vertical discovery style video addition to the app in order to compete. Again, Reels shows the viewer content they aren’t necessarily subscribed to and digs deeply into its algorithm to send you content it thinks you might like. Youtube released their version a “Shorts” in March of this year.

So how do these changes affect your business’s marketing plan? 

For one, video advertising is becoming increasingly viable on Instagram. Businesses can show ads in all sections of Instagram so it’s worth considering how to advertise in each. As the app changes it’s important to adjust your marketing plan accordingly. For Posts and Explore you’ll want to produce horizontal content while for Reels and Stories you’ll need to create vertical videos. Our previous content on stories is helpful for understanding what exactly to post as well.

End Card

One new update is “Instagram end card”. After being showed an ad in “Stories” advertisers now have the opportunity to include second story which allows viewers to see your recent organic posts. It’s worth checking this box EVERY time as it give the consumer another opportunity to see your product and view your business. 

Organic

Beyond all these things though the changes in the app should change the way you use it broadly speaking. Even though the Tik Tok/Reels target audience is much younger and perhaps less likely to buy your product, these audiences are the future. Beginning to think through how you can advertise to them will only help you improve you ROI in the long run. Try your hand creating a Reel, do some research scrolling through the section. Remember too that organic is always free, it doesn’t hurt to learn! And lastly as always, if you need help getting any of this set up you can always reach out to our marketing team at King + Columbus. They’re an excellent resource for getting any of your marketing plans off the ground.

Notes: *We’ve grouped Facebook and Messenger together as they are technically the same provider.

 

Why You Should Implement Video Into Your Marketing Strategy

Let’s be honest, it’s not the year 2005 anymore. Fifteen years ago if you were looking for video marketing implementation, you’d likely find it in TV advertising or on a web browser. Today, however, video is available everywhere: on our phones, laptops, TVs, tablets, and even on our fridges! If you’re not using video as a part of your marketing strategy you’re missing out. Below are a few ways to begin implementing video right away:

Branding

In the ever-changing and tumultuous environment created by social media and COVID-19, video marketing presents a clear outlet to establish and maintain relevance for your brand while respecting safety guidelines. Regardless of whether you’re on a B2B or B2C platform, video marketing is generally agreed to have a great ROI. Video allows you to be much more personal than other mediums. Presenting your product or service over video allows you to build brand awareness, build loyalty and is an excellent avenue for presenting value proposition. Think: why is YOUR brand better than your competitors? Videos are an excellent opportunity for your company to shine through, for you to distinguish yourself, and to separate yourself from the pack. 

One of the simplest ways to promote your company is to include clips of employees or satisfied customers talking about your business. Remember with branding to tell a story and to aim for the heart. If people can put a face to the company then they will much more easily connect with what you’re doing.

Advertising

When it comes to paid advertising, video is an easy way to present your product or service. In particular, tailoring your video to platforms like YouTube which has over 2 billion active users a month, gets your company before a huge audience quickly. Most social media platforms include paid opportunities to promote a business via videos. These include YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Vimeo, Reddit, and TikTok. Before choosing a platform to promote on, make sure you’re familiar with what will be best suited for your needs. Our guide on picking between Facebook and Instagram is a helpful resource

More traditional television advertising is also a great way to promote yourself too, but you certainly need to take cost-efficiency into account before going that route. Social media can be a simpler and much cheaper alternative.

Events

For events, videos are an excellent option as well. Before an event include clips from a previous event, you can also show location and venue. These will preview the audience to what they will experience when they attend. It can help with other things too. One of the most useful benefits of video is it can help your website with SEO. If you’re having trouble getting your event to show up on search engines, embedding a video could be just the trick to get you at the top of the page.

When the event is over make sure to follow up. Give a recap of what happened; interview attendees. Make sure to maximize the event to its full potential. Make sure you’re collecting new leads, creating a newsletter, and offering sponsorships. An after-the-event video can be a great opportunity to generate future leads for those who were unable to attend. 

Product Demos

Product demos can be one of the most effective ways to market yourself. HubSpot recently noted that 73 percent of all US adults are more likely to buy a product after viewing a product video.

These videos can be simple and silly! Some great ideas include filming a live video showing off the latest inventory, or filming someone on your phone and posting to your feeds. Obviously, product demos can be highly produced affairs, but they don’t have to be! Get creative with your presentation.

Lastly: Go for it!

We know making the step into video marketing can be a scary thing. Many people don’t ever do it for fear of producing something of poor quality, or for fear of failure. If you need help getting your plan off the ground the team at King + Columbus would love to help. K+C has some of the top professionals in the industry and is well equipped to help your business grow wherever in the process you might be. No need to wait, go ahead and start implementing video today!

 

Spring Cleaning your Brand in 2021

The early part of a new year is great for more than just cleaning out your house. The spring season is an ideal time to revitalize your brand as well. And in 2021, the need to take a fresh look at your brand image is made more important by the evolving state of the pandemic.

So what are the most important aspects of your brand to reimagine, and how should you go about rebranding?

Logo and Brand Identity  

Your logo is a customer’s first impression of your brand, so it should feel modern. You want your customer to feel like they are interacting with a brand that exists in the current landscape. 

While not everyone is a graphic designer, there are still subconscious impressions that customers have about modern style and design. People know a logo from the 90’s or early 00’s when they see one.

Evaluate your creative assets. A strong logo is the pillar of your marketing efforts and is essential for building brand recognition. 

Companies are constantly evolving, and a refresh keeps your brand from feeling or looking old. On average companies update their identity every 7-10 years. Renew and refresh your company’s vibrancy and set yourself apart from the competition with an updated logo.

Popular website builder tool Wix identified the following styles as top logo design trends in 2021.

  • Hand-drawn imagery
  • Back to basic shapes (with a twist)
  • Overlapping text
  • Bringing classic symbols back to life
  • Optical illusions
  • Analogous color schemes
  • Breaking the rules of composition
  • Incorporating nature imagery
  • Using emojis

Brand Values

The next point should inform every decision you make about your brand when doing a refresh in 2021. Your brand values affect everything from how you should conduct your social media, to your advertising messages, all the way to how you run your business operations.

Your company’s acknowledgement and awareness and adaptability to COVID-19 is the most important “value” to work on. Even though we are nearly a year into the pandemic and vaccines are rolling out to more people every month, customers need to know that you’re still doing what’s best for everyone’s safety. 

Take a look at the first places people see any messages you put out. Think about your instagram bio, your facebook featured image or description, the front page of your website. These are all places that people should see something about your response to COVID. Even something as simple as stating that you’re requiring masks in person, or sanitizing your offices or store. 

If this is something that you haven’t already done over the last year, it’s not too late. Make COVID considerations a part of your entire rebrand as you go about planning it.

Take this time to also consider what social movements might be important to you. Black History Month and Women’s History Month are on people’s minds during this part of the year,  with February and March being dedicated to the movements, respectively. Build out plans to celebrate the messages that are important to you.

Social Media

Evaluate the social media accounts you are currently using and make sure they are updated with current logos, images and links to your website. Review and refresh your social media strategy, set goals, examine analytics and build robust content calendars. 

LinkedIn and Twitter are the fundamental social accounts for financial services, but Instagram can bolster brand awareness and help you engage with clients. Sprout Social reports that Instagram passed the 1 billion user mark in late 2020. So you’ll be missing out on a massive audience by leaving this platform to gather dust. 

Your employees are also key in building your social media presence. Recommend that their profiles are up to date and connected to your business page. Encourage your employees to connect on LinkedIn and share your content. They are valuable to organically expanding your social reach and building brand awareness. 

Finally, don’t forget to clean out your messages and make sure you haven’t missed any questions, comments, concerns, or feedback. Clients expect instant responses, this is a chance to showcase exceptional client service in a public forum.

Tips for getting your social media ads noticed in 2021

Are your ads getting noticed as much as you’d like? Are you looking for ways to grab your audience’s attention? Successful social media ads entice consumers to watch, listen to or click on the message.

So what are the things you should focus on in your social media advertising, in order to get the most out of your investment?

Script It for Broadcast

Podcasting is a great opportunity to reach a new, attentive and engaged audience.

Whether your ad is scripted like a radio spot or read aloud by the podcast host, it will come across as more authentic than any sponsored Facebook post ever could. The audience knows it’s an ad because it sounds like an ad, and that’s okay.

Don’t underestimate the time and resources this kind of advertising requires, though. You’ll need to either have a trusted podcaster do it for you or be extremely creative with how you deliver your messaging.

Use Video or GIFs

Video has been hot for a few years now, but a lot has changed recently. For example, Facebook has autoplay on video and supports animated GIFs, and Instagram allows all brands to run video ads, where it once did not.

Great content combined with motion is an irresistible combination that gives you the opportunity to engage with consumers on a deeper level. Video marketing can be tricky though, so you need to keep a few things in mind.

First, although many videos on social media feature autoplay, your message shouldn’t rely on audio. Most users of these platforms pop open their app to pass the time in public places. Its highly likely that they won’t have the sound turned on on their phones.

Don’t assume your audience is listening, but do assume they’re watching. Most video ads today incorporate native subtitles, and the best ads use them in creative, visually engaging ways. Utilize this text motion to pull the user in and emphasize words visually, since they cannot hear the emphasis audibly.

Instagram’s latest venture is Reels, a TikTok competitor that is an excellent place for video ads

Second, if you’re thinking about diving into Instagram video ads, know that they’re limited to 60 seconds, with story ads limited to 15 seconds. Familiarize yourself with the recommended video specs for ads on facebook, which apply to Instagram as well. Skip any opening graphics or stills and get right to the story. Also, Instagram was built on an audience that appreciates beautiful and inspiring visuals, so think beyond basic storytelling and consider using a mix of still imagery and video.

Incorporate Humor

Many brands have found success by taking social media advertising and turning it into a parody of itself. Incorporating humor into your ads is an effective way to connect with your audience and entice them to click through to your form or other content. Humor is one of the best emotions to tap into if you want your content to generate engagement, so lighten up and make your audience laugh.

Just know that using humor and sarcasm doesn’t necessarily work for every brand. Your ad content and campaign need to reflect your brand voice and resonate well with your target audience. Done well, it works. If you miss the mark, it can be a social media disaster.

Provide Content Downloads

Instead of simply advertising to consumers, what if you provided useful content? This isn’t a new concept, it’s essential to content marketing, but it’s something you want to embrace.

Develop useful content and promote it with social media ads.
Whether you’re in B2C or B2B, you have something to offer. Content marketers might get thousands of downloads of ebooks on topics ranging from purchasing wholesale hot tub parts to picking the right preschool.

If you need help figuring out where to start, look at your company’s blog and social stats. Which blog posts are the most popular? Which social content gets the most engagement? Build on that. And if you’re still stuck, look at your competitors. What kind of content are they offering? Do that, but do it better.

Once you have your content, consider spending marketing dollars on getting it published on other sites like Reddit, using a traffic tool or promoting it on social media using custom and targeted audiences.

Make yourself worthy of attention

It is becoming harder every year to compete with customers’ attention spans. Apps like Tik Tok and Instagram throw them quick, consumable content that encourages moving on fast. If something doesn’t hook the user in the first 5 seconds, there is an endless trove of content they can turn to instead.

On top of this, people are developing blindness to branded content on social media. It has become so normal to see every 3 posts appear as an ad, that users know when to tune out.

No matter how native your content is, they aren’t likely to want to click on an ad. The trick is to create ads that are valuable enough for consumers to willingly click on them. This means getting out of your comfort zone and seeking new methods.

7 Things Facebook Advertisers Should Know in 2021

2021 is bringing more changes to the social media advertising landscape than we’ve seen in a long time. Between redesigns, new apps, and a major shift around user data privacy, businesses have a lot to pay attention to over the coming year.

Here are some of the most pertinent changes and updates that affect advertisers on the largest social media platform.

User data privacy changes

Facebook has wrapped itself up in an ongoing conflict with Apple. As Apple emphasizes the importance of user’s data privacy, Facebook has growing concerns about how this limits advertisers’ ability to efficiently target people.

As Apple’s latest privacy-focused iPhone operating system rolls out to phones across the globe, Facebook is implementing changes to ads manager that prepare for limitations and delays on ad analytics and user data. The biggest thing Facebook is recommending advertisers do to prepare is create and prioritize 8 “events” that report how users interact with your website after clicking on your ad.

Read more about the ongoing tech giant battle in another one of our recent blogs.

Facebook’s Redesign

The redesign of Facebook was loved by many, and not-so-loved by many more. Regardless, it’s here to stay. The primary change to note is that the design places more emphasis on Groups and Events – the “two biggest reasons people visit Facebook every day.”

Business manager settings have also shifted around as a part of the redesign. If you find yourself unable to find certain features, there is a way to get back to the old interface for your business page.

Users can no longer opt out of Facebook’s redesigned interface.

To do this, rather than clicking on your page from a shortcut on the main Facebook “feed” page, start in the business manager homepage, business.facebook.com. From here, you can select any of your pages in the center of the screen. Clicking the “Go To Page” button will bring you to the page interface you’re likely much more familiar with.

One thing I’ve found is that it is much easier to search and sort through your page’s posts in this interface. The redesign has removed the “posts” tab entirely from pages.

This frustration with the redesign is alleviated somewhat by the “creator studio” feature, which shows valuable data on your posts and allows you to boost posts through your content library. But for those who are familiar with promoting their page though an older interface, there are still options for you.

More text is allowed on ads

Facebook once penalized ads with higher amounts of image text in auctions and delivery. As of September 7, 2020, this has seemingly been changed. All warnings and labels that previously told advertisers that overusing text would limit their ad’s reach have been removed. It’s hard to say if this means the policy changed, or if Facebook simply no longer warns advertisers about this.

Hashtags on Facebook

While most creators will steer clear from adding hashtags to Facebook posts, the platform is implementing recommended tag listings within the post composer. In September of 2020, the test had only expanded to a specific audience, as not all users see the new listings. It could be a good way to broaden your conversation. Statistically, they do seem to be taking flight, but implementing them may or may not be worth the added effort.

New “Collab” app

Facebook has begun rolling out its latest TikTok competitor. While the Facebook-owned Instagram already has “Reels” to compete with the short-form video content app, Collab will focus on collaborative music making.

Advertisers should be paying attention to Collab, Facebook’s latest answer to TikTok.

The standalone app recently came out of public beta testing and launched on the App store in December 2020. It is not fully clear yet how advertising will play into the service, and if the existing ads manager platform will adopt Collab ads.

With the meteoric success of TikTok, it’s worth paying attention to all competitors in 2021.

Image owner rights

According to the social media behemoth itself, about 3 billion people use Facebook’s platforms, including Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. In other words, where Facebook goes, its other platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp are sure to follow.

Facebook announced in late 2020 that “certain partners” can claim ownership over their images, and then moderate their usage across Facebook’s platforms. As it stands, this implementation could affect re-posted content on Facebook and Instagram in various ways. The current options that an image owner has when it identifies unauthorized usage are:

– Let the image stay up
– Issue a take-down notice
– Or use a territorial block, making it invisible in copywritten countries

Facebook Business Suite

As Facebook continues to roll its main platform and Instagram together, as shown by the merging of messages on both apps, the company has introduced another platform for content creation and scheduling.

Business Suite helps users to:

Save time – Post to Facebook and Instagram at the same time and manage posts in one place to stay connected to both communities.
Stay up to date – Get all your Facebook and Instagram messages, notifications, and alerts in one place so you can stay up to date and respond to all your customers more easily.
View business results – See what is working with Facebook and Instagram insights and learn what your customers are looking for.

While the message management tool is the same as Pages Managers, there is also a user-friendly analytics integration, making it easier to get an in-depth look at post performance.

As this tool is rolled out, keep in mind that Facebook intends to make Business Suite “the main interface for businesses of all sizes who use Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp.”