Although there haven’t been official statements for Instagram’s algorithm changes in 2017, the verdict among fashion bloggers rings clear: the Instagram algorithm pushes photos that are taken on iPhone, while simultaneously hiding high quality, professional images from followers feeds. It seems like Instagram wants to take the platform back to solely being mobile based as it used to be back when it first started.
Take pictures with your iPhone / Android
It seems like Instagram wants to take it back to where it all began – being mobile only. It seems like the new Instagram algorithm changes have caused professional quality images to disappear from the explore page. Some of these images simply do not appear on users’ feeds anymore, even if you are following the account. This in turn leads to lower engagement on these pictures, which causes a vicious cycle: a follower won’t see all of the pictures you post, therefore they like less of your posts (unintentioanlly), which in turn makes even LESS posts appear on that follower’s feed! You might even disappear from their feed altogether. I recently talked to another blogger who said that even her own mother who follows only 3 people misses her posts consistently. Other people have come forward with similar remarks. My own engagement rates have dropped from around 6-7% to 2-3% in the last 6 months, although my content has not changed.
‘Instagram’ algorithm prefers photos to be taken “in the moment” – post your photos as soon as you can. ‘
This causes problems for us fashion bloggers because high quality images usually reflect the work we are most proud of. Before I was aware of Instagram’s algorithm changes, I didn’t even think about reaching for my phone if I wanted to take a picture for the gram. I use the same shots for my blog as well as Instagram very frequently as it is more convenient. Moreover, Instagram is not so much a personal page for me, it’s more akin to a portfolio. When brands visit my page, I want them to love the content I’m creating, not just the my follower count. Being the perfectionist that I am, I haven’t posted a single iPhone photo in over a year as the quality is that much lower, even though I’ve known about the new Instagram algorithm changes for many months. Brands may also want to use your images for other purposes than their Instagram page (e.g. brochures, website), so I have always aimed to have the best resolution possible.
Problems with the Instagram’s algorithm changes
The fact that Instagram is deliberaly pushing the platform to be more mobile based means that bloggers and content creators who take on sponsorships would be better off shooting campaign images on their phones. Lower engagement rates don’t necessarily mean much for bloggers or brands, but if less people actually see the image solely because it was taken on a professional device, this is a big problem. A better influencer marketing strategy would be to capture campaing shots with an iPhone. This would obviously mean that some brands would need to be re-educated about Instagram marketing, as many brands require content to be shot on DSLR.
Why does Instagram’s new algorithm dislike professional images?
My personal theory is that Instagram’s business strategy is to move towards more ads. If the return on investment for brands isn’t great when they use influencer marketing, they would probably be more inclined to use the money for other forms of advertising such as Facebook or Instagram marketing. However, this is just a personal theory.
What can YOU do about Instagram’s algorithm changes?
Are you willing to give up posting DSLR quality images all together? Great! The problems caused by Instagram’s algorithm changes won’t apply to you. BUT! What can you do if posting DSLR images is vital for your brand? Or what if it’s just too tiresome to create Instagram-only content when you have already created images for your blog? If this is the case, the best way around tackling lower engagement rates is to consistently interact with other users and optimise hashtags and posting schedule. I have covered the latter topics on my ‘How to Grow Your Instagram’ post.
It’s no secret that Instagram’s algorithm tries to show you the most relevant content that you could want. It assesses which account is relevant to you by the amount of times you interact with it. This is especially true of the accounts that YOU like. Have you ever noticed that if you like an acquintances status update on Facebook, or an account’s picture on Instagram, ore of their pictures start randomly popping up on either your feed or the explore page (if you’re not following them). This is because the Instagram algorithm registers that you’ve liked their previous content and are likely to apreciate seeing more content from the same account. Therefore the real trick is to get as many people to like your pictures as possible or even better, visit your page regularly.
The best way to do this is by becoming more active on the platform yourself: like content that your followers put out, so that they are more likely to notice you, click on your account and go on a like spamming spree too. If Instagram is deliberately hiding some images from people’s feed, the best way for your followers to see your pictures is to make them click on your page. However, not everyone pays that much attention to who has liked their pictures, so commenting is much more efficient. But please, don’t post spam comments such as a dozen emoticons! Aim to develop a personal relationship with as many accounts as you possibly can – other than improving your engagement, this makes Instagram more fun and enjoyable too, which is what it’s all about in the first place!
Instagram’s algorithm changes mean that images taken on an iPhone or an android are now preferred. To beat the algorithm, take photos on you phone and post them as soon as you can.
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P.S. Personally, I hate this update. If there is an up-to date petition I can sign that will make Instagram chronological again, please send it over! Instagram’s whole argument for changing the algorithm to a non-chronological feed was that people kept missing important posts from the people they were following. The new algorithm was meant to increase the likelyhood that people would see more posts that are relevant to them. The new Intagram algorithm of 2017 does exactly the opposite – it is HIDING some of the pictures and there’s not much we can do about it unless we encourage our followers to visit our page.