instagram algorithm changes

How can your business adjust to algorithm changes on social media platforms such as Instagram?

In March, The New York Times reported on how Instagram’s prioritization of short-form video content and reels has decreased engagement for business accounts typically reliant on sharing photos as a cost-effective advertising method.

“With the way Instagram has shifted everything to video, it has really decreased the amount of traffic we get to our Instagram account, and that means to our website,” Skyler Mapes, a co-founder of EXAU Olive Oil, told the Times. “You have to fight harder than ever to get out there and get seen.”

These types of algorithm changes are common across social platforms, with varying effects on businesses that attempt to drive sales and increase awareness on those channels. From diversifying your social media strategy to experimenting with your marketing tactics, here are some steps your business can take when there’s a big social media shift.

1. Embrace a social media approach that’s right for you.

It can be helpful to decide on a considered approach to social media marketing that evolves with your business rather than with the latest trends and algorithm shifts. You can begin by asking yourself questions such as:

  • What are my business’s overall goals on social media?
  • How are the goals different across social media
  • What voice are we going for?
  • How do we keep a consistent voice that accurately reflects our brand?
  • Who is our target audience?
  • Where are the opportunities for growth?
  • How much time do we want to spend on social media marketing each week?
  • How much of our revenue should be reliant on social media selling?
  • What are our competitors doing on social media?
  • What about our competitors’ approach to social media do we like and dislike?
  • Should one person handle the business’s social media accounts, or is it a group responsibility?
  • How do you measure social media marketing success?

Your answers to those questions will help establish a fundamental baseline for your social media marketing strategy. That way, when you notice or hear about the latest trends and changes, you can base your adjustments on a holistic strategy that fits your business, which may include not making any adjustments.

Are short-form videos not your thing? Do you not have the time or resources to invest in well-produced reels? Or are you skeptical that your product sales will increase by creating on-trend content? Your foundational social media strategy can provide guidance on what is worth your time and what isn’t.

2. Track your metrics.

Even if you choose not to embrace a social media trend or algorithm change, it’s helpful to stay on top of your business’s performance across channels. Tools such as Square Dashboard can help you track how many sales are coming via social channels, and platforms such as Instagram come with insights features so businesses can see how their engagement metrics change over time.

Schedule weekly or monthly check-ins for your priority accounts so you can see what’s working and what isn’t. If your performance drops on a specific channel, you can use your Dashboard metrics to help measure the impact on your business and decide on the right way to pivot.

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3. Embrace omnichannel selling and a diversified channel strategy.

Relying on a single channel to drive revenue and awareness for your business is risky, whether it’s Instagram reels, organic search, or paid Facebook posts. Your sales could vary drastically as platforms shift their priorities.

That’s why it can be important to embrace an omnichannel selling strategy. An omnichannel strategy is a cohesive and consistent brand experience across all sales and marketing channels, whether they’re accessed digitally, in brick-and-mortar locations, or both. Here are the four key pillars to consider:

  1. Sales: Your sales strategy helps you prioritize the channels that make the most sense for your audience.
  2. Marketing: A unified marketing message can help your customers feel connected to your brand on each channel you use.
  3. Fulfillment and logistics: Whether it’s a meal or a product, order fulfillment is the only way to get customers what they bought from you.
  4. Operations: To do omnichannel well, you need a system that ties all of your channels together. Square can help you turn your omnichannel ideas into reality with integrated tools that work together.

According to the Square Future of Commerce report, customers want to interact with brands and buy wherever it’s most convenient, whether that’s through a text message, a QR code, an ordering app, or a contactless payment. These are all opportunities for additional investment if your performance on one social media channel dips.

If you have the time, resources, and interest, consider different strategic approaches across channels that still fit your voice and your brand. Perhaps showcasing how-to guides on TikTok makes sense for you on that platform, but you find that you and your audience prefer standard photography on Instagram.

4. Experiment.

There is not a single, consistent tactic for success with social media marketing and selling. Experimenting with different channels and content types is the best way to figure out what works for your brand and your business.

Social media marketing is one of many ways to drive interest and revenue to your products. If the latest trend doesn’t feel like a fit for you, it can be okay to ignore it and prioritize other tasks or revenue streams.