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278. Big Changes to Instagram in 2024: What it Means for You

278. Big Changes to Instagram in 2024: What it Means for You

What is going on over at Instagram? 

There have been so many changes to Instagram in just the last few days and it's shaken things up.

I don’t pretend to be an Instagram expert, I haven’t posted on the platform since December. But I’m still keeping a pretty close eye on all the latest updates and what my go-to educators are testing and talking about.

My role here is to report, clarify, and give you my thoughts on what to consider as you decide on your best next steps.

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Changes to the Instagram Algorithm in 2024

Instagram announced in May of 2024 two very big changes in their algorithm. Unsurprisingly, the Instagram community is up in arms about these changes, and while the response was a mixed bag the overall consensus is that Instagram neglected the number one thing people were asking for, a chronological feed.

Giving More Visibility to Small Creators

This change has already started to be implemented and the idea is that instead of only recommending large creators to people who don’t follow them, they’re going to start recommending content from smaller creators as well to see how it performs. If the content does well, it will continue to recommend it to larger groups of people. 

As someone who sees a lot of the same garbage content from the same big creators that I’m not actually interested in… this sounds great. And as long as Instagram can get the recommendations right, I’m cautiously optimistic that this should yield a net positive results for smaller players on the platform. 

As you can imagine, larger creators are pissed because they feel like they’re being punished for being successful. Technically they’re not wrong. Unlike money, there is not an endless supply of attention on Instagram. 

Some of them have actually resorted to starting new accounts, a tactic they implemented a few months ago, and so far, their theories have panned out. They’re seeing significantly more reach on the new account than they are with hundreds of thousands of followers. 

The unfortunate thing is that nowhere in this announcement was there any talk of actually increasing your reach to your existing followers, which is the biggest complaint from accounts of all sizes. And they didn’t clarify what counts as a small creator. Adam’s most recent creator spotlight was an account with over 750k followers, so if that counts as small, hopefully, they’ll give a little extra love to micro accounts otherwise we’ll likely get just as lost in the Instagram ether as we do now.

It sounds a lot more like TikTok’s algorithm, and not everyone is happy about that. Those who prefer Instagram value it’s sense of community, but making a change like this vs. ensuring their followers see their posts isn’t exactly helping to foster that. 

The timing on this is also interesting considering the government is on a mission to ban TikTok, though the complaints of reach have been happening for a long time so possible they’re not at all related. 

Prioritizing Original Content 

The idea behind Instagram's move to prioritize original content is that accounts that only repost other people’s content, without putting its own spin on it, will stop being recommended on the platform.

Instead, they’re going to try and locate the original piece of content and push that one instead, along with adding a badge to the reposted version calling out that it was reposted. 

As expected the response to this one was a mixed bag. Aggregator accounts who don’t post original content are mad. Some of them rightfully so because the goal of their account is to spread other people’s work. This sentiment was of course challenged among the community calling out some specific accounts saying they post the same stuff over and over again, or saying that they just steal other people’s content.

On the flip side of that, there was a generally positive sentiment from true creators who likely appreciated they will be credited for their hard work. 

Instagram specifically said that if you put your own spin on something, remix something, create a meme of something, etc. That is still considered original content, as is reposting your own content. And aggregator accounts will still be able to reach their own followers, they just won’t be recommended. 

For most product-based business owners, I don’t expect this to have a direct impact on your reach because you’re probably not reposting much content from other creators. Maybe it will have an indirect impact in that people’s feeds won’t be flooded with regurgitated content from aggregator accounts, which as an Instagram consumer I’m happy about. 

My main concern on this one is how good is Instagram going to be at identifying the original content and what’s the margin of error? Only time will tell. 

Why is Reach Down on Instagram in 2024

While all of this is very frustrating and part of the reason why I haven’t bothered to prioritize the platform, serving up Instagram posts in a way that benefits everyone is probably harder than it sounds. I think the statistic I read was that there are 95 million posts shared on the platform each day. 

While I’d love to give Instagram the benefit of the doubt, the truth is, they want us to pay to play because that’s how they make money and at the end of the day, they’re a business. 

It’s the same reason they’re requiring product-based business owners with shops to allow checkout on their app vs. only redirecting them to your website.

And as you’ve heard me say before, in reality… they don’t actually owe us anything. Before social media there was no free way to market our businesses, and so when I get irritated at the state of social, I remind myself that these platforms are actually a privilege.

Do I wish they would just come out and say that instead of all the bullshit they spew, yes. Are they going to? I’m not holding my breath.

There were two posts that Adam recently made, one was about how the chronological feed actually decreases reach and engagement over time and the other about how we should all be focused on engagement over follower count. I think it was the latter where the comments were on fire with people saying stop gaslighting us; how can we get engagement if even our followers can’t see our posts, just admit you want us to pay for reach. 

And I found myself nodding along, like yep. 

Not to mention the front page of the Instagram business page has two sections promoting ads, more specifically their boost ads. 

Unfortunately, whether it’s true or not doesn’t really matter because we don’t have control over it. All we can do is focus on the things we CAN control. 

What’s Working on Instagram in 2024

Last year around this time I released an episode of the podcast, talking all about this. How to Make the Most of Your Current Visibility + Stop Fighting the Algorithm

If Instagram is part of your marketing strategy and you’ve been struggling on the platform, I definitely recommend you go listen to it because it’s all still relevant. It’s episode 222 and I’ll stick a link in the show notes for you. 

All that said, let’s talk about some of the things that do seem to be working on the platform right now according to some of my trusted educators. 

Less Polished and More Raw Content

While more “authentic” content has been on the rise for awhile, who else is sick of the word authentic? There was a blip of time where these super produced videos with AI inserted stock video, emojis, and cool captions were having a moment. 

That seems to be on it’s way out and according to Instagram strategists, their data shows that less polished vidoes are performing better on the platform. 

This is actually great news because you don’t have to put much work into the content you create. 

Of course this isn’t going to translate for EVERYTHING, but if you’re the face of your brand, don’t worry about creating the most beautiful videos ever. Put yourself in front a window, throw your phone on a tripod and start sharing your products. 

Quantity over Quality

This doesn’t mean that you post shit content, but it does mean that you can stop spinning your wheels trying to create the perfect post and settle for B+ or even C work. 

This also means, that posting more frequently, while the reach and engagement on each individual piece of content might be lower, your overall account reach and engagement will go up. 

Does this mean that you should start posting 3x per day tomorrow, be consistent for 2 weeks, get burnt out and then stop posting for 5 months like I did? No, you should not. You will want to prioritize consistency an pick a cadence you can stick too, but it does mean instead of spending an hour on one post, if you can create 2 lower quality posts in the same amount of time, that’s going to serve you better in the long run. 

Start a Broadcast Channel

The broadcast channel has been around for awhile, but it rolled out slowly and didn’t get quite the same amount of attention as other features of Instagram. If reaching your existing audience is one of your main issues on the platform, a broadcast channel is a great way to ensure you can reach them. 

Like most things in marketing, you’ll need to be able to be consistent about it, but like SMS it’s going to be a bit more intrusive than a post on your feed or a story, so you also don’t want to bombard your audience. 

The cool thing about broadcast channels is when you create it and send your first message it will invite all your followers, and there’s an invite link you can share to ask people to join as well. Of course not all your followers will join, but the ones who do are gonna be your die hard fans and it’s a great place to create a deeper connection with your people, give them early access to new product launches, get their feedback, etc. 

Post Wider Reaching Content

You’ll also want to start thinking about creating wider-reaching content. Not that you don’t want to be focused on your products or that you should be posting things that aren’t relevant to what you sell, but how can you zoom out and cast a wider net?

In my GIN method, something I teach in the Lounge Membership and Content Badassery, the G stands for Growth Content. This is the type of content whose job is to grow your audience and reach more people. This is focused more on the lifestyle of your audience overall, it’s not super product-specific though it can still feature your product. It might be entertaining, it might be educational, it might just be relatable… but it’s highly sharable.

If you’re not sure what this content should be, ask yourself what else your audience and perfect customer cares about related to your product or industry. That’s the type of content that fits into the growth bucket. 

Your Next Steps

So, what’s the moral of today’s story? You ultimately have to decide how important Instagram is to your business. If it is, then you need to work within the confines of the platform and the algorithm. Get creative, grow your email list, post more frequently, put a little money behind your posts to get them in front of your people. 

I go deeper into some of the specifics of leveraging the platform in episode 222 so please check that one out if you need some inspiration of what to do next. 

And if after all that you decide Instagram isn’t all that important for you… maybe it’s time to put your focus somewhere else. 

Remember, social media, even if you’re not spending money on ads, is NOT free. It’s still time, energy, effort and aggravation, so if it’s a struggle, your time might be better spent somewhere else.

Listen to the Episode

Timestamps

00:00 Welcome to the E-Commerce Badassery Podcast!
00:51 Breaking Down Instagram's Latest Algorithm Changes
01:49 Supporting Small Creators: A New Instagram Strategy
04:27 The Controversy Over Reposting Content
05:53 Impact on Product-Based Businesses and Content Strategy
07:03 Navigating Instagram's Pay-to-Play Landscape
09:10 Tips for Boosting Your Instagram Presence
13:25 Deciding Instagram's Role in Your Business Strategy
14:52 Final Thoughts and Resources

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I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. 

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