Instagram Algorithm Changes – 3 Tips (February 2018)

Recently, there are rumors that Instagram will change again, secretly without notifying us – the consumers. In my opinion, it is nothing new or surprising. Changes are always needed to leverage the app and I urge everyone don’t be romantic over the changes. Even when there’s just 10% of your audience able to see your posts, it doesn’t change the facts if you are doing just fine right now. My takes on the drop in reach, impression and the overall engagement:

1 GREAT CONTENT

Your contents are as the same as before, they are either amazing or the opposite. It is quite objected to saying that if you consistently put great contents on your feed and stories, you are safe. You don’t have to worry about no one will ‘see’ your contents. The algorithm will decide what content to show to your followers or even non-followers based on their activities. It won’t take anything away from you unless you give up so easily. Stop blaming the platform.

2 TARGET AUDIENCE

If your contents are able to attract your targeted audience, you are still keeping the record. You lose nothing but maintains the qualities of your consumer base. You need to grow a community that will support not just a single post but tend to respond to your stories, questions or even provide valuable opinions or constructive criticism. If you are a YouTuber, your intention is to build a brand, ask suggestions and drive traffic back to your channel. Remember to provide massive values in every story and regular content. There’s literally no shortcut to success. Value lied to entertainment, education, and motivation always work better.

3 RESPECT INSTAGRAM

Knowing you are not purposely violating the T&C of Instagram. Follow the rules set by Instagram and use all the features on Instagram. Engage and follow people per your interest and it is just like a normal habit. Share your thoughts on Stories, connect through DM, it all bounds down to how much value you are capable to share with your community. Some people are worried about getting banned by using engagement pods, it all lies in how you are using it. If you use it for the sake of connecting and communicating, that’s totally Instagram friendly.

FINAL THOUGHTS

By doing all these good practices, you lose nothing, but slowly building up the momentum as a good user on Instagram. Remember, Instagram will reward you if you’re doing everything right. It means that you should NOT be afraid of losing the numbers you already owned. I have noticed many times that a 2K account can be a dead space with zero interaction, or even a 5K account. Numbers matter when you niched down to find your true consumer base. Those mini figures will keep you going. So, let’s crush Instagram in 2018!

Hold up! Are you a video consumer? Watch this YouTube video than. I also included some Chinese New Year scenes. 🙂

Connect with me on Instagram and YouTube

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How To Win on Instagram: Content, Community, Context

How to get people to follow you on Instagram? Three things: content, community, and context. You heard them a thousand times before, don’t you? However, you may wonder why you are still struggling, and people just don’t care about your posts?

Frankly, I feel guilty for not taking Instagram seriously since I started making videos on YouTube. I repositioned my focus on YouTube and neglected my own growth on Instagram. Sarcastically, I made Instagram videos. Before I start breaking things down, I want to urge you that even a little growth is better than nothing, even with just one genuine follower added to your community, it is better than none. So, take your time.

Why Content

Content is king. There is no doubt if your contents aren’t competitive enough, you wouldn’t get the exposure, and the engagement etc. That’s the basic. Visuals are the main contents of Instagram. Keep in mind that Instagram is a visual app and it will always be. Videos are gaining more momentum lately but visuals still give you more likes and comments anyway. Don’t forget that even the cover of your video is a piece of visual, it is a preview of your video. Stories are no different, the content of your stories should be able to complement to your main feed. I would tell you more on this later.

The minimal interface design was a signal that your contents are ‘officially’ prioritized by Instagram. People ranted about the change of the layout, but I had a different point of view, instead. Let me remind you that human attention span is only 8 seconds. The decrease in our attention is an evidence of the increasingly digitalized lifestyle. That’s a brutal truth for humanity but here’s why changes are needed to maintain the app’s longevity, and to get more people’s attention on your contents, getting more traffic to Instagram.

Videos are 60 secs max, while IG stories are 15 secs max, which I believe they might do the multi-snaps like Snapchat in the future. They have live stream already, though. When people visit your feed, the first thing they look at are the photos and videos, the ‘visual content’, then most likely your profile picture along with the bio description, then they may click on your profile picture for your stories. If you created highlights on your feed, people may check them out as well. Attention, attention, attention! Getting the right attention would boost your overall presence on Instagram.

How To Content

Good content is certainly not enough for leveraging your presence on Instagram anymore. What you need here is to have a chain of great contents that are both aesthetic and stimulating, this including your Stories. Don’t just create but also document what you are doing in life. I’m not telling you to take a video when you’re in the toilet, nobody wants to see that. Cringe! People want to see what it is like behind your career, the real, and unedited you… working on your things.

I have been creating contents on YouTube since September 2017 and I always love to share my daily hustle on Instagram. Yes, I am turning my followers into viewers, and hopefully, make them subscribers. Ask questions, you can now use the poll sticker, use location tag and hashtag for more exposure to Stories. Do live stream, get people listen to you! Don’t be lazy. Stories are the huge deal in 2018! And here’s why. For video creators, create another account so you can put your short teasers or anything relevant to your YouTube channel. Cross-promoting is key! Having to say that, having a curated feed is extremely important, especially if you are in the creative direction.

Why Community?

Community. This is the exact notion of Instagram. Numbers only matter when it comes to proportionate engagement rates to proportionate followers. Pursuing ‘perfection’ should be a taboo on Instagram, and frankly, perfection never exists. Be connective, be authentic. Show your community the personality behind this handle, and how you can bring value to them. Some big accounts don’t bother replying to the Direct Message. They ignored, there are a few exceptions, though. Even a ‘thank you’ can bring a different experience to that person who tries to get a response.

If you think people are consuming your contents because they are fantastic, please leave that idea behind the door. Most people consumed your contents because you’re connecting with them. If you are not providing anything valuable to your community, you basically tell them ‘I don’t care’. If you are one of those who doesn’t connect, stop complaining about low engagements, because you are not making any effort to grow.

How To Connect

Visuals of Julius, with nearly 100K followers (He now has). Julius Kahkonen is a young artist from Finland and he is popular with his dynamic editing skill with Photoshop. Below are the screenshots of his Instagram handle, stories, posts and a response to my DM. (slideshow)

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Frankly, there are plenty of great visualizers like Julius but what makes him stands out are:

1. His visuals are extremely good.
2. He is connecting with his community.

There’s once I sent him a message after watching his YouTube tutorial and bam! He replied. Okay, it might just be a short reply, but one could imagine how many DMs Julius receive every day! The point is he replied. He took his time to make an effort to show his appreciation. Whenever I mentioned him in my stories, he always replied. He even went to tell people to resend him any message that he missed, it shows he cares about his community. The most important thing is to remain valuable to the others, regardless of how many followers you have versus theirs. Sincerity is your first force for success.

Why Context

Gary Vaynerchuk said that if the content is king than context is the god! I completely agree with the statement and here’s why. You might be capable of creating amazing contents over and over again, but you will never succeed if you don’t understand the ecosystem of Instagram. I hope that you can take some time and look at how Instagram has been changed tremendously since its inception in 2010. Instagram is not the baby visual app we once knew, it grew up, and it hit puberty like real quick!

Last year, Instagram pushed Stories to a great extent. You can now archive your stories so they won’t go away after 24 hours lifespan, and it also allows you to create stories highlights on your page. There’s just more to come. And guess what? You can now follow hashtags, something which I believe they will even expand it furthermore. Don’t be delusional and think you could still apply the same strategy in 2014, it really doesn’t work anymore! If you are trying to connect in the wrong context, no one will ever read or share your contents regardless of how good or how bad your contents. It is time to switch your attention to something worth your investment.

You must constantly reinvent your Instagram knowledge. Study the users’ behaviors, the hashtag culture, the stories feature and there’s just so much more you can study. If you want to win the race, you have to run from the beginning to the finish line with no hesitation.

How to Context

Understand the Instagram culture is a long-term game, it takes your time, your energy, and tolerance. The first thing came to my mind is the use of hashtags. You post something, then you write a caption, and at the end, you add a bunch of hashtags. You know how to hack hashtags for likes, don’t you?

Ask yourself, are you using hashtags for the sake of using hashtags? Have you done any research that which hashtag is relevant to your content? Have you interacted with people using that hashtag before? Do you know what is the purpose of the hashtag? Or you just simply don’t care, you just want to get likes and comments. It is the same for the follow and unfollow method, this is just not right, to begin with.

You have two options here. One is to continue being ‘yourself’, continue spamming… and the other is to hit the right spot and win the game! Which one would you choose? If you’re the latter, I want to applaud you for the determination to change and remember, be patient over time.

Start searching hashtags that are relevant to you, to your brand, to your interests, and in your area. Since I settled down in Kuala Lumpur, my contents are mainly located in KL, thus my hashtags would be something between Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia. This is where I started my research. If you are a relatively small account like me (no shame), hashtags with million posts are way too hard for you to handle, then it is time to move on to smaller hashtags with lesser posts. Remember, your intention of using hashtags is to land yourself in the Top 9 posts of each hashtag for as long as possible, it is about leveraging your presence. Besides, try to connect with these accounts using this hashtag and understand why they are using it. Go micro, then macro!

Connect and Provide Value

To sum up everything in this article, the only way to build your influence through Instagram is to connect and provide value to your community. No one would discover you unless you finally take a step to expose yourself to the public (It sounds naked). There are 800 million monthly active users and 500 million daily active users as of November 2017. The growth is skyrocketed, it is a competitive platform. If you can’t manage to stand out, you are drowning in the middle of the sea. Friendly advice… Don’t use bots and try to cheat the system, hack the culture, though. Now, go do things.

Connect with me on my Instagram @mikewenjinsoo (travel & discovery) and @mikethedopetoast Send me a DM on any account and we will talk! 🙂

6 Reasons To Use Instagram Stories

The Stories feature was initially launched in August 2016, and people have mixed reactions due to its nearly identical feature to its rival social media, Snapchat. It is not surprising to know that Snapchat was more popular than Instagram back in the days. From sending multiple snaps to your friends every day, to laughing at the wackiest face filter from your pals, it was really fun to use Snapchat.

Then, here comes the Instagram Stories, nothing original, and yes it was technically a clone of Snapchat, nobody would argue against this fact. Facebook did a great job cloning most of the Snapchat’s dominant features to its own Instagram, but the social media tycoon did not hesitate to push Stories to Instagram users.

INSTAGRAM IS STEADILY GROWING SINCE STORIES

In November 2017, Stories has pushed Instagram growth to a steady 500 million daily active users, and 300 million alone came from Stories itself. It is nearly doubled Snapchat daily active users. But why the sudden rise in popularity among the Instagrammers? Soon, I will break this down into 6 segments, discussing the important roles of Stories and how it will affect your overall experience with Instagram.

The evolution of stories continue, from face filters to stickers, to hashtags, to location tag, to live videos, to the poll sticker, and the recent archive and highlights function, everything happened in just a year time. By the time I’m writing this article, you are now allowed to change the font styles on Stories.

1. Interaction. 

Instagram Stories is a huge part of the entire Instagram game, you wouldn’t want to miss this great opportunity to interact with your followers on the daily basis. If you can generate daily conversation on your Stories, it really helps to leverage your Instagram presence. Your conversation is most likely revolved around your business/interests etc, or even better, get them to know you personally, as an individual. Maintaining trust and longevity is how you build a strong and loyal community, contents alone are not enough in today’s bombastic Instagram world. Start interacting with your followers!

2. Stay timely and relevant.

Before Stories was introduced in 2016, Instagram users only allowed posting photos or videos to their feed. Sometimes, it just took plenty of time to edit, and it subsequently causing the delay of posting. That could be one of the reasons why youngster preferred Snapchat over Instagram because it saves their time. You snap a photo, swipe to apply filters, and hit the send button, there you go, 10 seconds time! However, you can now update your latest activities through Stories before having the time to edit photos or videos and then upload to your feed. Stories provide a great opportunity to engage with your followers without running out of the ‘time’ and you’ll always remain relevant to your community.

3. Call To Action – feedback.

People love to share the light with you. We all love attention. Getting feedback from your community by asking a question through the poll sticker is a great way for a conversation, and somehow it is way more effective than having a ‘call to action’ caption in your general posts. The poll sticker is one of the latest features added to Stories and based on my experience, it seems to generate a better engagement rate than any existing Stories feature. I asked my community what they would like to see in the next video, and most of them responded. I have once received 25 votes from 50 people who viewed my story. The poll feature only allowed users to vote between two options, though. The default template gives you ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ options, and you can directly edit from that.

4. Reminder.

Remind your community to check out your latest post! Do it with class, though. I think this is believably the most popular way to use Stories in general, and especially the photography niche. Photographers love using this feature to promote their new posts because reminding people never hurt your exposure. Why this is workable is rather understandable, Instagram prioritizes Stories by placing it at the top of the app’s layout, they even added midsection Stories feed, with a panel sandwiched between regular posts. The horizontal positioning allows users to swipe through left and right smoother compared to a vertical feed. Stories are the main attention of Instagram.

5. Discoverability.

Get your location tags and hashtags ready on Instagram Stories, these tags will get you the potential exposure to people beyond your own community. If your story is featured on that tag, it would double its exposure or even triple. I’m not saying this is guaranteed to get you new followers, but think in the way, when more people see your updates, it is most likely trigger the Instagram algorithm and yeah it kind of reminds them you’re a good Instagrammer. Yet, you still have to post quality stories updates to drive people’s interest to your Instagram account. Keep experimenting with tagging!

6. Let Your Feed Stay Organized.

Having both a raw Stories feed and a curated content feed help to keep your general feed more organized. You can manipulate the aesthetic of your feed without ruining the grid. Instagrammers prefer posting coherently rather than posting tons of irrelevant contents. For instance, too many selfies. A one or two might be acceptable but overposting not only result in the drop in overall engagement but may lead people to unfollow you. Stories come in handy. It allows us to post our favorite moment in life, without ruining the aesthetic of our feed, and the best thing is it only stays there for 24 hours and will be gone for good. Keep your general posting away from raw stories moment! If you are doing your Stories right, you are doing wonders for your feed too. A good balance is key here.

Are you still not sure why to use Instagram Stories? If you’re a video consumer, watch this video I posted on YouTube.

Don’t forget to hit me up on Instagram. Thanks for reading! 🙂

See you.