04 Apr How to reach your Instagram followers WITHOUT asking them to turn on notifications
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock or have been on an Arctic expedition over the past few weeks, you’ll likely know all about the #Instaupdate. Without going into it massively in depth, the simple story is that Instagram are moving towards algorithmic feeds – rather than chronological ones – just like their parent company, Facebook. If you are recently returned from the North Pole you can find out more about the changes here.
This announcement caused mild (read: MAJOR) panic in the Instagram community, from bloggers/models/ brands/celebrities panicking that their posts would no longer be seen by a large percentage of their followers, resulting in a drop in engagement/RGs/sales/breaking-the-internet.
The solution? Asking followers to ‘Turn on notifications’. Cue a deluge of posts all requesting the same thing. The idea is that by turning on notifications, followers receive a little orange prompt every time one of their favourite IGers posts, meaning they’ll never miss anything from them regardless of the news feed algorithm. Simple, right?
The problem with turning on notifications
Erm…actually, no. There are more than a few flaws in this theory.
Firstly, notifications get boring VERY quickly. Even if users picked their top 20 Instagram accounts to set up notifications for, they’re likely to get more than 40 alerts per day and who on Earth needs that?! This will inevitably mean that users won’t look at all posts – particularly if they only check the app a few times a day, thereby defeating the purpose of notifications entirely!
Another major problem is, at this point speculative, but definitely worth considering. Facebook’s algorithm takes ‘negative actions’ into account when deciding what posts to place into your feed. Every time you rescind a ‘Like’ on a page or ‘Hide Post’, Facebook’s algorithm takes this as an expression of dissatisfaction and makes it much less likely that you’ll see content – organic or paid – from that page in future. As Facebook owns Instagram, it’s fair to assume that their algorithm will work in a similar way, so brands begging followers to Turn On Notifications could have disastrous effects when users get irritated by prompts for every single update posted. Multiply this across multiple users, and Instagram may well take the view that all your fans turning off your notifications is because the platform is being used improperly and it could annihilate the reach of future posts.
So what can brands do?
Relevance and engagement; two key things businesses on Instagram need to concern themselves with. Rather than positing a steady stream of product images or regramming happy customer snaps, it’s time to get creative.
Even if creativity isn’t your businesses nature you can still give customers a unique insight via your IG feed. Consider sharing behind the images shots of products being made or candid office snaps that put the ‘human’ into your business.
Ask your audience questions – ‘Is this mug better in blue or pink?’, ‘We’re having an argument in the office about the best dunking biscuit, where do you stand?’ – to incite engagement and get your followers talking, both to you and one another.
This, obviously, doesn’t mean that you have to completely abandon or stop the Instagram strategy that has served you well over the years, the changes brought in by the algorithm simply mean that you need to consider your posts a little more than before to make sure they’re what your followers want to see; as long as they’re of interest and are relevant to them, you should still appear at the very top of the posts.