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The Current

Thought Leadership

The latest Instagram update: An opportunity to rethink your content strategy

New algorithm. New content strategy. What’s up with Instagram and how to win at it.

It happened again. But this time, not as many people are in an uproar about the new Instagram algorithm. Why? It shifts back (closer) to a chronological feed of posts – which the 2016 change had upset. Here’s what’s up.

What Instagram changed

Reports say Instagram feed changes now focus on:

  1. Your interests
  2. Timing of the post
  3. Relationship (think how many times you’ve liked or commented on a brand’s post)

Instagram also takes into account:

  1. How often you check your feed
  2. How many people you follow
  3. Length of usage session (shorter sessions will show the “best” posts at the top)

These factors will orders the posts you see in the app. These aren’t new analytics by any means, but now you’ll see more emphasis on more recent posts.

“Best” posts still generally have more engagement. They’re supposed to show up first so you don’t miss anything trending.


Good news

The new algorithm prioritizes the timing of posts, dialing down the importance of engagement. That means your brand’s posts should show up more organically – especially if your followers spend a long time browsing the app.

Bad news

Alas, this doesn’t mean you can relax with content creation. But really, for brands and users alike, there isn’t much bad news unless you hyper-optimized your Insta-strategy for the old algorithm (and if you did, keep reading!).

How to handle the new algorithm

This change gives social media marketers an opportunity to revamp their content strategy and try new types of content. Zero in on timing for a better shot at getting your posts in front of your audience.

Experiment with content

While you’re revamping your content strategy, you might as well experiment with it. Try posting behind-the-scenes pics of your photo shoot or a screenshot of your Kickstarter countdown. Get creative. Keep a consistent look and keep track of what gets engagement.

Have a theme, event or some big news to share? Try creating a story. Like other apps, Instagram Stories content displaysto your followers for a limited 24 hours.

Just because Instagram Stories reflect features of other apps, like Facebook Stories and Snapchat, doesn’t mean you need to post the same content. Customize content to the audience you’re talking to.

Instagram – in general – caters to a more artsy audience than Snapchat and a more trendy audience than Facebook, although the idea of temporary stories tends to lean towards an unrefined look overall. Tweak your content for each platform.

You can add all sorts of things for engagement in Instagram Stories like:

  • Hashtags
  • Two choice polls
  • Slider polls
  • Locations
  • Emojis



Time your posts

To analyze data you need… the data. So collect some! Test what times perform the best for your brand by mixing it up. Get a social media scheduling tool and post in the middle of the night. Post during the weekend. Post at 4am. Your goal is to generate data outside your ordinary posting schedule.

Now gather the data. On the mobile app:

  1. Go to your profile and tap the analytics button at the top. (It looks like a bar graph.)
  2. Scroll down to the Followers section and tap See More.
  3. At the bottom of this page, find the best times to post by days and hours on each day.
  4. Take note of this info and optimize the timing of your posts using the social media scheduler.

Voilà! You have a new content strategy optimized for your audience’s content of choice, time preferences and Instagram’s new algorithm. Take your time with these experiments, and know everything won’t always be a success. That’s part of testing ideas.


VOLTAGE is a digital agency specializing in eCommerce, digital brand experiences, and web apps. Get emails and insights from our team:

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