How Instagram Is Affecting Small Business

What was once the best social network is now only the most popular and fastest growing. And while our appetite for consuming Instagram content is insatiable, businesses that have spent significant effort organically growing their following are now struggling as a result of the algorithm changes that have eliminated reverse chronological order.

In it's early days, Instagram allowed anyone to reach an audience in real time, during a time where Facebook was implementing algorithms on their network to eliminate reverse chronological order. This phenomenon leveled the playing field once again, putting small business in front of many potential customers. By thinking fast and smart, one could generate buzz and a following overnight on Instagram.

Obviously, big business has caught on, and as social media has become some of the biggest business in the world, these companies have learned to monetize, and restrict the value of the real time communication phenomenon that made them great in the first place. Nowhere is this more evident than with Instagram, as they've grown at a rapid pace and have made noticeable changes that have negatively impacted organic reach.

These changes have decreased the organic reach of every single business that uses Instagram. All of the positive hype surrounding the algorithm is just that, hype. I'm honestly a bit worried at how hard certain entities are working to put a positive spin on these changes (cough cough, competing social media management companies). If every business is getting less likes, comments and calls to action from their Instagram activities, which is the case, then we need to shift focus to adjusting strategy in this new social media world order where real time communication is being restricted.

First, paying for reach is expensive, does not guarantee return on investment and could cost you. If there is room in the budget for paid reach, then attention to every detail is a necessity. Don't rush into paying for reach out of excitement, only start when your campaigns and targeting is planned out.

Second, at this moment, Instagram tends to offer significant organic reach through it's newer features like stories and live video. Stories, miraculously, are essentially displayed in reverse chronological order and offer the opportunity to make up for much of the organic reach that has been lost in the newsfeed. Live video allows you to generate even more organic reach when combined with a solid story strategy. Every business needs to utilize these features before Instagram takes away all of the organic potential just like they did with the newsfeed.

Third, content quality is more important than ever, which means that a consistent stream of new, high quality photos, videos and captions combined with good hashtags help boost organic exposure. With a limited percentage of your followers being served your posts as a result of the algorithm, entertaining them with the best possible content in order to keep their interest and engagement is absolutely essential.

This means you need to stay creative and start seeing your profile for what it is, a channel where your followers want to consume your content, and with Instagram limiting your exposure, stay focused on innovating your approach to organic efforts.