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Social media algorithms: friend or foe?


Instagram is joining the algorithm party, which means it is altering the way our newsfeeds appear, to dictate what we see, and when we see it.
For those in the know about these kinds of developments, Instagram may seem a little slow on the uptake. Facebook introduced its special algorithm back in 2012, shortly followed by News Feed FYI, its attempt to become more transparent about the changes it was making. To date, Facebook’s FYI platform continues to be an insightful place to go when trying to understand all the sorcery that goes on behind closed doors at Facebook HQ.

Much to the dismay of the Twittersphere, Twitter followed suit in February of this year, prioritising more “popular” tweets on the timeline, ie. ones with higher interactions.

Finally, it seems, Instagram is giving in to peer pressure, as the news broke this week that it is testing a new algorithm. But what does this mean for brands?

At this stage, we’re not quite sure. Instagram continues to attract brands and, crucially, brand influencers, to its platform, but the announcement of plans to control the newsfeed could make them nervous.
With Facebook, the algorithm meant that organic posts only reached 16 per cent of a page’s fans. Brands were forced to put money behind their content to ensure it was reaching their target audience.

Now, Instagram is awash with posts asking followers to turn on post notification, to ensure their content is being seen. But, as with Facebook and Twitter, Instagrammers should consider a strategic digital outreach strategy, carefully applying ad spend to relevant posts to ensure they achieve engagement both commercially and organically.
Facebook has partnered with Instagram to enable those on Facebook but not Instagram, to place content on Instagram timelines. Through integrated advertising, those who do not wish to launch an Instagram account but still wish to reach this ripe target market can promote their content across both platforms via just one channel. This is an interesting development in promoted social media activity and one we would definitely recommend brands utilise.
We run strategic digital campaigns for a range of our clients, and can help you do the same. If you’d like to know how we can help you create a buzz on social media, email or call 0161 850 0565.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Instagram algorithm too, so tweet us at @JAM_Manchester.


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