Why brands should welcome the Instagram algorithm

Since Instagram announced it will be launching an algorithm, the trade press has been filled with thought leadership pieces spelling the end of Instagram for brands.

Based on previous experiences with Facebook, the general gist of this argument is that algorithms are bad for branded content as it generally signals the end of organic reach.

Take this article in Techcrunch – here are some select quotes:

Now, you might have to choose just your best photo or your wittiest quip to post. Otherwise, it could sink into obscurity, buried below posts that algorithms think people would rather view.

A follow isn’t enough any more. You’ll need to post high-quality content and receive a consistent stream of Likes from people for them to keep seeing all your content.

“The free ride is over. Businesses can’t use these platforms as unlimited marketing channels any more. The hard sell will fade from view in favor of actual entertainment. Rather than a mix of content posts and more straight-forward marketing, each ‘gram and tweet will need to be laced with delight or risk obscurity.”

So what the author is suggesting is that now we will need to focus on creating content that the audience actually wants to consume.

Wow, what a brilliant idea. Hang on, isn’t that what we should have been doing anyway?

Not all algorithms are created equal

12518358145_fae1cc2cca_kIt’s easy to see why there is brand fear here. The Facebook algorithm unfairly punished brand pages.

But things are different with Instagram and Twitter. There is no differentiation between a brand account and a normal user account.

It’s far more democratic.

Everyone – as things currently stand – will be treated equally. And Instagram went quite far to suggest this in the feature’s announcement post.

Show me the money 

But let’s not be naïve here. Sure, Facebook and Twitter are looking to make more money. And algorithms help.

If businesses want to push those “hard sell” posts that the Techcrunch author seems to advocate, then they need to pay. Shocking.

However, there will always be a place and a reward for content that interests users.

And I see that as a good thing.

Let’s raise the bar

I often find it depressing when I flick through my social media accounts. So much of the content from brands is weak. It’s noise that just gets in the way.

I’d say that about 85-90% of branded content is something that I’d never want to see on my social channels and would never engage with.

So if algorithms force brands to create content that an audience might actually want to see in their feeds then I see that as a good thing, for brands, consumers and the networks themselves.

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