It's a New Dawn, It's a New Day, It's a New Instagram... And I'm Feeling [Fill in the Blank]

instagram Apr 01, 2016

The scene in March: you're going along your merry way, doing the best you can on Instagram, when all of a sudden, a huge bomb drops: the photo-sharing platform is going to start using an algorithm that dictates the order of what you see in your feed (read: what bots think is important content to you).

Come again?!

If you're waiting to exhale, now's the time.

It was inevitable, right? We all saw this coming, did we not?! When Facebook acquired the hailed app in 2012 for a cool 1 billion, did everyone not predict the decline of its purely organic nature? They did. While this announcement isn't intrinsically shocking, it still kind of is. Why? Because the changes never came.

Even when they introduced ads a couple of years ago, the selection process was so rigorous and the guidelines for the creative extremely strict that it felt like the integrity of Instagram was going to be kept intact in spite of a Facebook takeover. People stopped anticipating the transition, so brands, bloggers and influencers alike just went on with their strategies as though there was nothing to fear.

Then the API happened.

But why, you ask, would this be something to fear? Because it was the not-so-obvious foreshadowing of a destined fate. For personal users, it meant that scrolling through their carefully curated feed would no longer solely consist of consuming images of their choosing. For brands, it meant that the impending threat of a selective algorithm was imminent and organic reach would soon be in peril. Read: free marketing channel no longer free.

What would a world with an Instagram algorithm look like? There are so many questions, but until this apocalypse actually happens, we can only speculate on how it will differ from Facebook's - after all, people consume both platforms in very different ways and they each serve individual purposes.

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A photo posted by Glossier. (@glossier) on

Getting to know your audience is going to become paramount.

As Instagram marketers, we're feeling feelings. Here are some of them.

  • Chill pill needed, STAT. We know that change is hard, but rolling with the punches and being flexible is how the winners will adapt and thrive.

  • This is an opportunity for brands to really soar. Sure, organic impressions are at risk, but if the content quality is there, so will you be, right at the top of people's feeds. This is a chance to up your game and really think about quality over quantity. Which brings me to my next point...

  • If you thought engagement was important before, it's now going to be the difference between life and death (forgive the dramatic turn). The more people double-tap your photos and feel compelled to leave a comment below them, the better your chances of survival getting eyeballs on your posts. If we've learned anything from Facebook, it's that the piece of content that receives the most activity is the one that everyone will see.

    Dash Hudson has your back when it comes to honing your audience. Our Boards tool allows you to dig into your content pillars to unearth what resonates best with your followers. Mariana Rittenhouse, our Director of Brand Strategy, advises to "make sure you keep investing in what works and take the next few months [before the changes are implemented] to optimize the type of content that isn't performing as well."

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A photo posted by Brandy Melville (@brandymelvilleusa) on

You guys, there's a silver lining to this whole thing.
  • Audience-building should rise to the top of every brand's list. The best way to ensure engagement is to be followed by the people who care about what you're adding to the conversation. Inducing emotions from your followers will build stronger connections and lead not only to brand loyalty, but to Insta-faithfulness as well.

"There's actually a silver lining to the Instagram algorithm," Mariana continues, "you’re actually going to be getting in front of your most loyal consumers more often. Moving forward, brands will need to hatch a plan to increase that devoted follower base as much as possible."

  • Becoming one with your data is going to be imperative. Yup, getting intimate with the backend (no pun intended) of your account will be a fool-proof way to devise smart, concrete strategies to nail it out of the ballpark and outsmart them bots. The more intel you gain about your Instagram activity and all of its intricacies, the better the angle to one-up your competition you'll have. Think of the Dash Hudson platform as your lifeline, basically.

As for the rest of us plebes, mere mortals who just enjoy simple things like posting photos of our meaningless activities in an artful way, consuming the beautiful images of really fantastic influencers, and engaging with the brands we hold in high regard, well, we should all mentally prepare ourselves to see more photos of our cousin's newborn.

In the meantime, it would be best to stop panicking.

A universal truth @themrsqueenbee

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If you need help calming down, we're here for you.