How Instagram’s New Algorithm Affects Your Business

by Ryan Laffler, Account Manager

Algorithms are everywhere. On your smartphone, at the ATM machine, while waiting at a stoplight, I literally mean everywhere. And that’s a good thing! At their core, an algorithm is a formula or a set of processes to solve a problem. They’re especially useful when dealing with enormous amounts of information, like news feeds on social media.

Until recently, Instagram had been sorting its news feed chronologically. This used to benefit businesses that leverage Instagram as a marketing tool because they did not have to artificially “boost” their posts with advertising dollars. No longer! Instagram is following the path other social media giants platforms paved before them and announced that they are switching to an algorithmic system to filter their news feeds.

If you’ve seen the flurry of posts on Instagram from businesses saying to “turn on post notifications”, that’s why.

Moving forward, it will be much more difficult for businesses to reach their audience without advertising dollars. If Instagram follows in Facebook’s footsteps, which is very likely since Facebook bought Instagram in 2002, organic posts, A.K.A. non-sponsored posts, will be buried in your audiences’ news feeds under the new system. On Facebook, for example, a new study found that the average organic reach for posts in March was a measly 2.6%, slipping even lower for pages with more than a million likes.

The shift to an algorithmic system is not all doom and gloom, though. These algorithms work by creating affinity profiles for every single one of their users, tracking their preferences, behaviors, likes/dislikes in an effort to predict what he or she will want to see on his or her respective news feeds. Once these affinity profiles are established, social media platforms leverage this data by allowing businesses to target their message to an incredibly well-defined audience. Whereas, in days past, the only guarantee to show up in someone’s Instagram feed was to post as often as possible. Now, the key is to define your target audience, and create engaging posts strategically engineered for them. This promises to free up clutter on news feeds and create a better user experience, but it’s still a win-win all around. As Marty Weintraub, founder of AimClear, puts it:

Ironically, what’s good for users can also be good for platforms. Algorithm feeds leave room for ads – and the same data which is used to filter feeds may also drive ad targeting. That’s a big win-win, and it’s why social platforms like Facebook and Instagram sometimes turn out to be monstrously huge business players.”

So, armed with this information, what is the best way for your business to proceed? The answer is simple: always think of the consumer. What engages them? What time of day do they their social media? Why did they share my competitors post and not mine? At the end of the day, the success of your Instagram marketing campaign will depend on your ability to empathize with your target audience.


The Goss Agency is a full service advertising and marketing agency that specializes in consumer motivations and creating brand loyalists. To find out how The Goss Agency can help your brand, email Dari Mullens at or call (828)259-09910 x110.

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