Before we begin talking about what I’ve dubbed this week’s Instagram Algorithm Freak Out that’s been spreading across the web, let me tell you about my first foray into Instagram alerts…
Over the Christmas holiday I began getting notifications on my phone every time Jaime King posted to social media. Sure I follow her feed, but I’m not a rabid fan that needs to know what she posts the moment she posts it, so it wasn’t a move made by choice. I don’t know how it happened but I’m guessing that at some point I accidentally hit the turn on notifications button while reading a post of hers, or I hit that button while sleeping. Oh the things I’ve accidentally done (calls, Facebook shares, Twitter RT’s) while rolling over on the cell phone I fell asleep reading, but that’s another story…For the first few days after the Jaime King alerts kept popping up I ignored them as I figured, heck, maybe I should be setting up alerts on multiple accounts I read daily, let’s see how this goes. It didn’t go well. People don’t post on Insta once a week – at least not those I follow – and if the Jaime King posts alerts were multiplied 25 times over I’d be distracted all day long, in an audio and/or visual way. Not a good move for anyone, let alone someone who is trying to get focused, strategic work done every day and avoid becoming (any more of a) slave to her phone.
Then earlier this month it began, the “Turn On Notifications to See My Posts” images that people, brands and businesses were sharing with their followers. On the heels of this were the increasingly anxious posts by entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs alike about if and how the impending Instagram algorithm was going to impact their social media posting. I won’t lie, I nearly whipped up one of those images and posted it to my feed a few weeks ago as well. Then I took a deep breath, thought it through, and decided against it. Here’s why: I don’t believe this is a strategy that will work in my brand’s favor in the long run, and I think there are other, better ways to spend your time. Let’s discuss…
Why Creating a “Sign Up for Notifications” Image & Freaking Out about Instagram Changes Should Be Avoided:
- Content is Still King – ahem – Queen. No strategy, alert system, shortcut or secret social media trick will ever take the place of compelling content and well done, well-branded images on Instagram. That’s what will keep people checking on your feed, keep followers engaged and make the biggest impact in your feed. Do that consistently and you’re going to keep and grow your following. I promise. Grow your Instagram community via commenting, through real conversations and I’ll say it again: through on brand, on point, awesome content that your community values.
- Hashtags, and mastering using the right ones the right way, are going to offer a big boost in terms of followers and post engagement. Make a point of analyzing which tags work, which do not, which tags bring over the right followers and interactions, and which ones your industry as well as your brand “universe” are using. Go beyond the hashtags you regularly use and check out the “related hashtags” feature in Instagram to discover others you could and should be using. For example, when I began using Instagram (I was a late adopter but instantly hooked) I included “#success” in several of my posts. I thought it would bring driven entrepreneurs to me like bees to honey. It did not. It brought spammers, people who were of the “get rich quick” universe and others of that ilk. Not what I wanted to attract, but because I was monitoring what and who my hashtags were attracting I quickly took it out of my tagging repertoire.
- Choose what you promote on Instagram wisely. Instead of asking people to sign up to receive ping or visual message every time you post something on Instagram, go for a better ask. Ask them to subscribe to your newsletter, to check out a course you created, to be sure they’re following your other social media feeds or invite them to follow the link in your profile to snag a hot, new, downloadable PDF from you that will really give them the value they crave!
- Be honest with yourself about the impact of interruptions on you and your followers. Folks let’s be real: How many of us need an audio or visual alert every time 10, 15, 25 or 35 different people we follow via notifications we set up post something? How much work would you get done if your phone vibrated every other minute to let you know a brand or person you like had posted a photo? I saw a few brands and entrepreneurial leaders that I really respect and value post graphics asking me to set up notification alerts and guess how many I followed? Zero. Because here’s the thing: I don’t need a distracting alert to tell me that they’ve posted great content. They show it to me by what they share, how they share it and how they tag/categorize it. I continue to interact and follow people who deliver the good my friends. I don’t need an alert to tell me to check out their feed, I can do that on my own.
Like everything in life and business, social media is constantly evolving and we’re all learning how to grow and change with it. That said, no matter how digital our world gets, you can use technology to further your personal and professional relationships but more powerful than any algorithm is plain and simple common sense, consistency and truly making an effort to get to know what your brand stands for, what your followers value, and let that steer your strategy!
What’s your take on the Instagram algorithm frenzy spreading across the web? What’s your strategy going to be?