What Instagram’s Update Means for Businesses

March 18, 2016

Instagram has become one of the most widely used social media platforms since its launch in 2010. It boasts 400 million monthly active users and 59% of adults check Instagram daily, making it one of the most valuable platforms to reach highly engaged audiences. Those statistics are what make their latest change so very painful to businesses.

This month, Instagram announced that it is changing its algorithm, citing that you “don’t see the posts you might care about the most.” If it sounds awfully similar to Facebook’s algorithm change in January 2015, that’s because Facebook, which bought Instagram in April 2012, is the driving force behind this transition. The net result will be a dramatic shift in the role businesses play on social media. Most notably, there will be a larger focus on monetized posts from businesses using these social platforms.

A Brief History

In 2015, Facebook changed the way that posts would appear in social media news feeds in order to “improve the user experience.” This move is now referred to as Reach Apocalypse, due to the devastating effects that it had for businesses. When Facebook said they wanted to improve the user experience, they really meant that Facebook was going to make businesses disappear from users’ timelines. It didn’t matter how many fans your organization had. Your reach was gone and was never coming back. That is, unless you were willing to pay for it.

Social Media Advertising

In order to get reach from Facebook and Instagram now, businesses have to buy advertising. That isn’t very surprising. At the end of the day, Facebook and Instagram have been providing businesses with a very valuable FREE service, and now they would like to turn a profit.

Social media advertising isn’t a tough sell. Businesses have had a taste of how well it works, and advertising on social media platforms is relatively inexpensive compared to other mediums. Add that to the ability to target audiences based on their interests, behaviors and connections, and social media advertising becomes one of the most effective advertising tools in a marketer’s arsenal.

Social media advertising also includes all of the same “like,” “share” and “comment” buttons as a regular social post, so you can still engage with your fans and they can still engage with you. In other words, organic reach isn’t entirely dead. It just requires a paid promotion, or to use Facebook’s term, “boost” to get the post seen in the first place.

Pay Up or Get Out

As the world of social media rapidly evolves, and the mediums turn into multi-billion dollar enterprises, it seems that paid advertising becomes an integral part of their revenue model. Quality social media content is still as important as ever for engagement, but paying to play is now a mandatory part of the game.

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