Social Media

The Inside Word On Instagram's Algorithm

Not too long ago, Facebook themselves hosted an event called ‘Machine Learning @ Scale’ event. The event brought together some of the most technologically advanced brains in the machine-learning and artificial-intelligence industry to discuss their latest discoveries and innovations. 

Doesn't sound like your cup of tea? Luckily, I sat through the entire list of presentations so that you don't have to. Below I am going to give you a brief rundown of my learnings in a (hopefully) more upbeat manner (you can watch the videos of each presentation here if you really like).

The thing I really found most interesting was from Thomas Dimson of Instagram, who explained the process of designing and implementing Instagram’s feed algorithm.

Essentially, Dimson’s presentation is about the challenges they faced when rolling out the new algorithm at scale, but as part of that, Dimson also notes all the crucial metrics of how Instagram defines relevance, the measures which dictate how content is ordered in the feed.

The key measures they use (or considered using) to determine relevance and decide which posts show up higher in your Instagram feed are:

  • People who’s content you like

  • People you direct message

  • People you search for

  • People you know in real life

Now, how exactly each of these elements might be weighted is hard to say, but these are the measures Instagram initially considered in their testing, which means they’re also very likely the same measures they use now.

Dimson does note that they haven’t necessarily weighted any of these elements at all, but they’ve instead focused on engagement, and using any engagement as an indicator. But, it’s interesting to note the various ways in which that engagement can be measured, which could then result in certain posts by certain people appearing higher in your Instagram feed.

Essentially, the content from users you engage with will rank higher, and Instagram takes all of these forms of interaction into account.

Dimson also provides a fairly clarified explanation for how social-platform algorithms work, and why they’re required, noting that algorithms help networks deal with ‘a problem of success’ – being that they become too popular, and there’s too much activity happening for users to find all the most relevant content on their own.

Dimson says that in their research, they found that Instagram users weren’t seeing around 70% of the content matched to them in the chronological feed. The solution to this, according to Dimson, is to either get people to follow fewer users, ensuring they always see the content most relevant to them, or to implement an algorithm to highlight the content they’re most likely to engage with, based on the aforementioned factors.

The first option isn't feasible, so Instagram tested the second, and they saw significant increases in all key metrics when the new system was rolled out to a small percentage of users.

Dimson notes that the only metric that went down was the amount of searches users were conducting, which they actually saw as a good thing as it showed people were finding more of what they wanted for without having to seek it out themselves.

Also interesting, Dimson says that they went from prototype to roll out very fast with the Instagram algorithm.

Those efforts have obviously paid off – the platform added 100 million extra new users in the second half of 2016, taking them to 600 million monthly actives, 400 million of whom now log in daily. The introduction of Instagram Stories also played a part, no doubt, but it’s important to recognize the significance of the algorithm also in this context.

It’s an interesting insight into the workings of Instagram’s system – it doesn’t provide all the answers, and the onus is still on you to create compelling content to inspire engagement and rank higher in people’s feeds. But it does give you some idea of the various elements potentially at play.

So, how do you create engaging content? Stick around, that blog post is next on my list! For now, check out my 'How to Hack the Instagram Algorithm.'

How To KEEP Your Social Media Followers!

Did you know Facebook has nearly 2 billion monthly active users? That is a lot of cute cat videos people!

Aside from being an addictive distraction from things you need to do, social media is a fertile hunting ground for all manner of marketers, advertisers, and business owners. And can you blame them? It’s a great way to establish connections with prospective customers and spread brand influence. But with all of our work to attract new followers, are we loosing our older followers in the process?

People on social media have very short attention spans but very long memories, so consistency is key. Here are some tips and tricks that will help you avoid common mistakes and ensure you keep from sending your followers running for the hills:

1. This is social media, not a sales media  

This may seem obvious from the name but the true purpose of social media is to be ‘social’ and connect with other users. Yet brands seem to forget that the only way to experience some measure of success is if they try to connect and establish a relationship with the audience instead of constantly selling. It’s time we realised that sales will come with better visibility and carefully planned marketing campaigns. Focus too much on sales and you’ll alienate people instead of drawing them in. Try to follow the 1-6 rule and make sure you team every promotional post with 6 pieces of content that are more casual, entertaining, and engaging.

2. Speak up

The most successful brands on social media have their own voice and personality that shines through and keeps audiences engaged. For example, some brands have a very humorous and sarcastic voice that fits modern sense of humour well. Others come across as knowledgeable and sophisticated, which benefits them as well. Without a good social media voice, it’s easy to become lost in the crowd and become invisible. A great voice and personality immediately grabs attention creating that killer first impression you’re aiming for.

3. Consistency is key

Like I said, people on social media have short attention spans, especially on highly mobile platforms like Twitter. You need to post things consistently and regularly in order to be present and keep the audiences engaged. If you post once in a blue moon, even a winning personality and voice won’t help you maintain traction. The brand will be exposed to new audiences every day so it’s important to maintain a good image and provide a consistent message. People will browse through the profile and research the company before they make their choice to follow you.  

4. Check twice and check again

Mistakes on social media can quickly turn into PR nightmares. All kinds of trolls will come out of the woodworks to mock you over small typos or rage at you for every perceived offence. It’s important to check, double check, and then check four more times for good measure just to ensure your message or content is grammatically sound, void of spelling mistakes, and not stepping on anyone’s toes.

5. Be the giver

People love freebies and the best way to find traction on social media is to give your audience a little somethin’, somethin’. This doesn’t always have to be discounts or rock bottom process, something as simple as games, challenges, and humorous tweets can keep them engaged. The purpose of your social media account should be to provide some tangible or intangible value to you tribe of followers.

Follow these steps and you’ll start to gain long term attention and adoration all over your social. In turn, you will be bringing in the cash. Creating long term loyalty is also about trusting that little gut of yours. So, right before you press go on that next post, just ask yourself – Would I want to see this?


How to Hack the Instagram Algorithm

Since Facebook purchased Instagram, the digital giant has been an absolute nightmare for digital marketers. Some say the biggest set back has been the Instagram algorithm. But get it right, and the algorithm can be your best friend, clearing out the competition. 

So, how can you use the algorithm to your favour? 

1. Hack your engagement

There are hundreds, if not thousands of accounts just like yours out there. All of them are just as interested in engagement as you are. Find accounts that are like yours and reach out. Make a group of like accounts and create an Instagram pod. Every time you update your profile, let the pod know. Together you can like and comment on every new post each other creates. Ensuring the comments are genuine and engaging, the algorithm will flag your post as popular and insert it into your followers' feeds. 

2. Post engaging content

Now, I know this seems like a no-brainer, but there is a little more to it. Have you ever noticed that your Facebook feed seems to be filled with the same people and pages, to the point where you completely miss the activities of some of your closest friends and favourite brands? This is because your feed is populated by the people and pages that you have more recently engaged with. The same now goes for Instagram. Post a highly engaging post, and anyone who likes or comments will see your posts for the following weeks.

3. Bring the likes to you

This is easily the most manual way to hack the algorithm, but it still works. If you allocate a period of your day to commenting and liking content on Instagram, then make sure it is right before you post. The engagement will prompt others to come back to your page and do the same, forcing your feeds engagement to spike. 

4. Get the right hashtags  

I could talk all day about hashtags. But in short, you really want to do your research. Choose a handful that relate to your particular image, and then ensure you have the most engaging and relevant hashtags for your industry. 

Now, these are my current hacks, but check back because I will keep this updated. 

How Fake Followers Are Killing Brands

We all know why we WANT followers, but the ethical ways to gain those followers are becoming blurred. Having a heap of followers can make you and your brand look boss AF.  Here is the one reason why you and your brand could consider buying followers: having tens of thousands of them makes you or your brand look like a boss.
It goes like this: the more followers you have, the more people trust you brand and perceive you as a 'tastemaker' in your field.  

Social media mimics our high-school days. Most people choose to play with the popular kid when given the choice. A large social following gives you what the marketing industry terms 'social proof'. Which basically means, proof that people like your stuff. Unlike school, it’s super easy to buy fake followers. Just Google “buy followers” and you’ll be met with an endless supply of people wanting to sell you their numbers. Around $10 for 1000 followers. 

The truth is buying followers can seriously harm your brand’s image.

Here are 4 reasons not to hit the buy button:

1. It seriously messes with Instagram's new algorithm. 

Instagram's algorithm decides if your photo deserves to be seen by your fans within the few minutes of posting. The engagement on your post in this time is vital. Though here is the clincher - it is also based on the engagement in relation to your following. If only a small percentage of your 20k following engages with your image in the first few moments, Instagram will throw that post to the bottom of the pile, and your engagement will dwindle within hours. 

2. People who know what they’re doing, can spot your fake followers from a mile away. 

All it takes is someone to take a quick glance on your account and see that you have 100,000 followers, terrible content and 100 likes per photo. Mostly, fake followers have 0-6 photos about the same amount of followers or are private accounts with none of the above.

3. These followers are not your customers.

This doesn’t need any explanation. Fake followers are not your customers nor are they ever going to be.

4. Lack of engagement

It doesn’t matter how many likes or followers you have if there’s nobody engaging with you. Purchased fans don’t engage because they’re not real people.  
Be patient. Build your authority one day at a time and remember the main social media rule. You want people to trust you.

So Don’t. Just don’t. 

What you SHOULD do is create great customer engagement. Engage in conversations with your customers, spread the word about your brand, gather customers’ feedback. Build customer loyalty and trust. And then, when people know you and know that they can trust you, they might buy your products!

5 Things To Consider When Choosing Your Next Influencer

Social media is a valuable tool for reaching customers, but most brands have a limited reach. While content development is first, once a business is set up on social, growing an audience is generally next on the to-do list. To truly boost its bottom line, businesses must find ways to regularly reach new customers.

Just ask an influencer and they’ll tell you how utilising their influence is quickly becoming the biggest opportunity to do just this. An influencer is an online personality with a large or devoted group of followers and because of this, influencers have the ability to get a message out to many people at once.

Brands often make the mistake of looking for influencers with the biggest following, but in a crowded marketplace where buying a following, or acquiring a following and not keeping them engaged is common. Here are a few things to ask yourself when choosing an influencer for your next campaign.

1. Do they love me?

Influencers will generally work with brands for two main reasons. They either love company A’s product or service, or company B is giving them a great big pay cheque. You always want to be company A.  Find individuals who share your brand values and can communicate with your target market.

2. Are their followers compatible?

Unfortunately, in this game, numbers are meaning less and less each day. Yes, the more followers someone has, the more engagement they may generate. However, even if an influencer has 1 million followers, their audience may not be interested in your brand. The girl with 100,000 followers but only posts pictures of her boobs and bum probably isn’t the right person to be promoting your cafe. Identify influencers whose audience (yes, their audience and not necessarily the influencer themselves) matches your own target market.  

3. Are they authentic?

Perhaps a funny question to ask when you’re talking about scheduled, generally inauthentic content. However, before selecting an influencer have a little look at their posts to determine if the content posted regularly is a good fit for your brand. I once saw a health food blogger, who spoke about her organic and vegan lifestyle, feature a sponsored post about Nandos. What!? This is NOT an authentic fit. So, browse through past posts to make sure you won’t have any surprises after your partnership launches.

4. Do they engage with their audience?

When executed well, social media conversation encourages two-way communication. A good influencer for your brand will not only post beautiful or interesting content, but will also interact with their fans. The regular engagement means followers are more likely to pay attention to recommendations and in turn end up on your social account and website.

5. Are you measuring your results?

Once you’ve identified the influencers you want to work with and the work has begun, make sure you measure your results. Take a look at a variety of analytics tools like Google AnalyticsSquarelovin or Iconosquare. Find the one that best fits your marketing efforts and measures your marketing goals. Over time, you’ll be able to clearly define your successes to shape future campaigns.

Influencer outreach really does work best when the influencer matches the brand, is in tune with the message, has control of the format, loves the product and has a great relationship with their fans. Put all of that together and you’re sure to get a head start on growing your community.