Have you heard about what Instagram is doing that will dramatically change your Instagram marketing plans?
No more flying blind.
No more winging it.
For most makers, artists and designers I teach and mentor, Instagram is their top choice of marketing to get traffic and sales to their shop.
Unfortunately, that's about to change.
Instagram announced on March 15, 2016 that they were going to implement an algorithm that would show the best posts to you first, rather than in chronological order as it had been doing in the past few years.
This comes as no surprise, considering Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012. And as small business owners who run Facebook pages, we all know about Facebook's algorithm that prevents your posts from being seen by your own fans.
It became so frustrating, disappointing and some creatives even felt it was a total waste of time.
Creative biz owners then flocked to Instagram because it was easier to use and the highly visual layout works well for makers, artists and designers. There had not been an algorithm yet, so everyone had a fair share when it came to Instagram reach and visibility. We were at an level playing field.
From today on, the tech world will be testing creatives once again.
This course isn't about how to gain more followers, even though it's a nice side effect of increasing your reach and engagement.
For starters, I explain why there's an algorithm in the first place.
And Instagram puts it eloquently:
“As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.”
Algorithms are put in place for everyone's benefit. It's in Google search engines, Etsy search engines, your Facebook newsfeed, Pinterest's smart feed, and now it'll be in Instagram.
There's simply too much content for anyone to consume in a single day.
Instead of showing you less relevant, lower quality posts even though they're more timely, Instagram (along with all other social media and search engines) is choosing to select the best photos to show you based on, according to Instagram:
- the likelihood you'll be interested in the content
- your relationship with the person posting
- the timeliness of the post
What this means for you as a creative business owner
You could take a negative outlook and quit Instagram.
Why bother spending another minute on it?
Except that if you look at it that way, you'll never succeed in business. Ever.
Technology is always changing and in order to stay relevant to your customers and prospects, you need to:
- adapt well to changes
- be open to learning new things
If you can't do both, you'll just disappear and no one will remember you or your brand.
It definitely pushes you out of your comfort zones, but once you get past the learning curves, you get to reap the benefits of a profitable small business that you've built.
More freedom, more time spent with the kids. More flexibility. No income ceiling.
Is it really worth giving up because of a silly algorithm?
The competition just became that much harder.
Now more than ever, you need a strategy for your Instagram marketing.
You can no longer expect to post sub-par content expecting to get likes and new follows on the fly.
Most people will struggle with this.
But not you, because I've got you covered!
How to fight Instagram's new algorithm and remain unaffected
1. Listen to your fans
You really need to get to know your fans and customers. Listen to them and pay attention to the data.
Do more of what works.
Figuring out who your ideal customer is can take a long time.
As long as you've had some customers in the past, no matter how few, you have a chance to get clearer on your customer profile.
Find out what your fans like or dislike. What do they value?
Social media engagement gives you data on this.
Posts with more likes and comments mean that your fans love it. You're doing something right. Pay attention to that.
When you can see a pattern of highly engaged posts, start to draw out their commonalities.
Was it because you used a question in the description?
Was it because you used a certain hashtag?
Was it the style or overall color of the photo?
Social media is not about your business, as backwards as that sounds.
Social media is a place for you to build a community of like-minded people who are also interested in your products.
But before you ask them to buy products from your shop, you need to give, give and give to them first.
2. Give, give, give before you get
Social media is no longer a place for you to post about your products non stop.
Facebook made that very clear.
Few people understood (or accepted) this change, so they went over to Instagram.
Now that Instagram is implementing their algorithms, you can either quit now or stay, fight and get better with marketing in general.
Because no one likes that person that only ever wants to talk about herself.
When you can identify what things your audience likes, give that to them.
This won't always be pictures of your products. And it shouldn't be.
You can no longer wing it and not have a strategy. And that's good news because that means the hardworking, smart folks like you will stand out.
Community building on your Instagram profile can be around the values of your brand.
- What do you stand for?
- What do you believe in?
- What makes your products unique?
- Ask for feedback
- Share personal tidbits about yourself (even if you think you're the most boring person on earth – not in the least!)
Give people a reason to engage with you and keep coming back to your profile.
It's like buying a gift for your best friend's birthday. You won't buy her a gift that you really love. You'll buy her something you know that she will love.
Remember, it's not about you. It's about the people you serve.
The rule of reciprocity is one of the basic laws in social psychology.
“It says that in many social situations we pay back what we received from others. In other words, if John does you a favor, you're likely to return it to him.” – Nielsen Norman Group
The more you give first, the more likely people are to come back to you and support your business.
3. Be a curator of great content
If social media is no longer just about sharing your own content and product pictures, then what do we do?
You can position yourself as the go-to person in your market for tips, education and entertainment around your niche.
You don't have to create all the content or posts yourself.
Share other people's content and be sure to provide credit.
This way, you can and should also make use of ongoing trends within your niche.
Pay attention to what's popular and what people are talking about.
This is not to say that you can't be unique and carve your own path. There's a balance!
4. Entertain and engage
We're on social media in large part to be entertained.
Entertainment comes in many forms, but ultimately you want to evoke emotion in your audience.
Humor, joy, anger, shock, sadness – are all different emotions you can tap into.
People love storytelling and that explains why 96% of Americans watch TV as a leisure activity at almost 3 hours per day on average.
It may not feel very honorable to think that you now have to “entertain” your audience like a stripper at a club.
You started your business because you love creating, you've gotten positive feedback on your products and you see the great benefits of being a business owner.
But being your own boss doesn't mean you no longer have to work – because believe me, there is definitely still work involved.
At least when you're starting out, there will always be some element of tasks that feel like work.
You may not enjoy doing it, but it's absolutely necessary if you want your business to succeed.
Start thinking about what tickles your audience. What makes them cry with laughter and joy, or what makes them reminisce about their childhood? What are they passionate about?
If you don't know the answers to these questions, social media can help you out.
5. Start building that email list
So many small business owners don't have a list or haven't really spent the time building it.
An email list is an asset to your business and it's something no one can take away from you.
So if Instagram falls apart one day, you won't be affected because you have the email addresses of all your past customers and those who are interested in buying from you.
It's instances like this that hits hard and close to home. It's very real.
Because of Instagram's new algorithm, you may lose that line of communication with your followers.
While social media can be a great marketing platform and I teach many classes on this (plus, I also run a jewelry business that uses most social media platforms!) it's not the ultimate strategy you want to take to market your business.
Start building an email list. Like, right now.
Instead of sending your social media traffic (like that one Instagram clickable link in your bio) to your website or Etsy shop, send them to a email sign up form instead, like this one:
I have over 3,500 email subscribers in my jewelry business and I can make several hundred dollars to $3,158 a day with my email list.
Creative Hive has over 5,500 people and that has helped tremendously with making this business a full time income.
Marketers like to say this because it's true: the money is in the list.
And your income grows as your list grows.
Here are some helpful posts for further reading on how to build an email list:
- Part 1: How to start building an email list
- Part 2: How to double your email list subscribers
- Part 3: How to use email autoresponders to make automagic sales
This Instagram algorithm is huge news to most handmade businesses.
You can take this change with defeat before you even try, or you can be smart about your strategy moving forward.
You're not helpless and you can definitely do this!
Instead of taking out your anger and frustration on Instagram (which, by the way, they don't owe you anything #toughlove)…
What can you do today to be better at using the platform?
Please share your hesitations, thoughts, lessons learned and any tips you have on this in the comments below!