Now, let us all have a cry over how much we have to spend on Facebook and Instagram advertising… Had a good cry? OK, let’s progress and see if we can cut those costs! In my previous post, What is Happening With Instagram, I touched on the new algorithm but didn’t get deep into how we can solve this problem – that’s the theme of this post.
I’ve been using Instagram for both my blog and clients for about four years now. Things have definitely changed; our followers used to actually see our posts. I remember racking up about 100 likes in the first 5-minutes when I had under 5 000 followers. People saw my posts, not only because they followed me, but also because I used frequently searched hashtags. With those two things combined, my reach was awesome and I used to get hundreds of views through Instagram to my blog each month.
Fast-forward to 2018 and Instagram’s algorithm is crippling businesses and just being an absolute pain in the ass. My reach has gone to absolute shit; sometimes only reaching 4% of my viewers (once it was even 3%) and my stories also aren’t seeing the reach they should.
So, what is happening on Instagram Business accounts?
Instagram is realizing you’re a business and therefore making money from using their platform.
If you’re using the ‘swipe up’ feature and the ‘link in bio’ is being clicked, they’re going to restrict you even further. Now, as a blogger, my goal is to get my Instagram followers to click on that link so that they can read my latest piece of content. They also need to watch my videos to get a sense of who I am so they can get attracted to my content.
Your stories and posts are not being seen
I did a poll yesterday and asked if people saw my latest post on their feed. It was interesting to me, not only at the number of people that said no, but because those people were frequent viewers of my stories and ‘likers’ of my posts. Hmmm… didn’t Instagram say that those that interact with your stuff on a daily basis were more likely to see your content? That’s a lie.
I asked in my story if people could go to my page and like my recent stuff because of the restrictions. Oh, my god, the likes came in the dozens. People were messaging me saying they haven’t seen my content in WEEKS. These are people that frequently watch my stories and ‘swipe up’ to read my blog posts. I was (and still am – the sting is real) pissed about this. So the myth of ‘those that interact will see’ is complete shit. Back to the drawing board.
Should we try advertising on Instagram Business accounts?
I did what they wanted; I stopped outreach on my posts months ago. Outreach meaning liking and interacting with other pages to attract them to your account. I stopped tracking my ‘unfollowers’ through another app and I also stopped mass hashtagging my posts. Instagram now says you’re allowed 30 hashtags on your posts at the most. And… my reach was sitting at 4%. What’s up with that, Instagram? So, I thought I would try advertising instead. Let’s do what old Mark really wants, and spend money on his app.
I noticed straight away that, unlike Facebook, you cannot advertise to your existing followers. This really angered me. I want to be engaging with people who actually want to see my content – not constantly trying to attract more people who will in turn, not see my content. The boosted posts (I literally spent less than $10 on the ones I did advertise) got me a lot of page views and some followers, but they didn’t get me in touch with my existing followers. Oh, the frustration! I don’t care if my community is small, I just want to connect with people who are actually interested in my content.
Restricting hashtags on Instagram Business
So, this little Instagram business account went about running a promotion and found my ad being denied. I immediately looked at my caption because any profanities and bad language get flagged. Seeing nothing wrong, I appealed their decision. The response made me chuckle, it was because I used a hashtag with ‘insta’ in it. The use of ‘#instatravel’ got me flagged because it could be paid work that I wasn’t being transparent about.
Be wary of using any hashtag that could relate to either Facebook or Instagram. I’m not sure if this restricts your reach as well, I’m sure it does because that post was getting even less reach than usual. Like… 74 people of 17.7k in the first hour.
So, what can I do if I run an Instagram business page?
Connect with your followers and ask for help
This may seem silly but I’m sure you’ve seen it from influencers where they ask you to like their latest post. I felt like such an idiot asking for ‘some love’ yesterday, but it really worked. The messages I received and the love made me realize more people were actually interested than I originally thought. People are people and they understand business struggles, let them know you need their help. If it’s a community you’re looking to create, this may prove to be a good exercise.
Geotag and Hashtag your stories
Again, this won’t get you in touch with your existing followers, but it will attract new ones. I’ve been getting hundreds of additional views because I’ve been tagging my location and using popular hashtags in my stories.
Post consistently and at the same time
I read in the Social Media Examiner that posting every day not only keeps your content fresh, it also gives Instagram some new content to work with. I didn’t post for a few days and when I did once again, the reach was terrible. People expect content from you if they’ve chosen to follow you. So, don’t be shy… and share.
I hope you found this helpful and learnt something new! Remember, we’re in this together and sharing our knowledge can help others!