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To See and Be Seen: Instagram’s Search Query

By Social Media No Comments

Instagram is filled to the digital brim with engaging content, recipes, brand content, and ads. How does Instagram recognize user interests amongst the clutter and serve content to users across Feed, Stories, Reels, and Explore?

Here’s a breakdown of how Instagram Ranks Search Results.

Search is based on accounts you follow, like, posts you’ve viewed, and relevant activity that helps the system optimize and show content that is more relevant to you, whether it’s a fashion blogger at Fashion Week or ideas for dinner next week. When a user taps on Search, the user sees their most recent searches and then based on their search keywords, they are served accounts, audio, hashtags, and locations that match the text of your Search. Instagram Search combines your search text with your activity on the platform and the popularity of your search results to allow the system to match up to historical user data with trending platform activity resulting in the best search results for each user.

What can you do to show up in more searches?

  • Use a handle and profile name that matches what a user would be looking for while searching
  • Make sure to use those relevant keywords and location-specific data in your bio
  • Make sure to use relevant keywords and hashtags in captions
  • Make sure you do not go against Instagram’s Recommendation or Community guidelines with your account, posts, or hashtags. Accounts that post spam or sensitive topics and violate guidelines will appear lower in search results or even be removed from the platform.

What is Instagram doing to improve Search results?

  • Instagram will be expanding the keywords that may be used for Search
  • Available Search keywords will be vetted first in English with other languages added at a later date
  • Instagram will be broadening search results to assist with better topic exploration. This change should help users discover more within the topic in feed (related photos and videos beyond your specific keyword text entry).

As Search expands on Instagram, we are excited to see the impact for agencies. Use your SEO terms on Instagram, grow holistic learnings, and scale successes across digital channels, adding another avenue of exploration for the end-user.

POV By Gellena Lukats, Director, Paid Social and Mary Sutter, Director, Social Media

Instagram To Become More Like TikTok

By Brand Engagement, Social Media No Comments

Instagram started testing a new video feature to compete with TikTok and YouTube, which will take place over the next six months with a focus on creators, video, shopping & messaging.

This new feature will be different from Reels, which launched in August 2020, with the aim to compete with creators and users of TikTok, including algorithm-recommended videos from accounts that people do not currently follow.

This emphasis on video comes as TikTok continues to dominate the social media space. Among the top five non-game apps in May, TikTok was ranked No. 1 by downloads and was the only app not owned by Facebook, to make the list. It is estimated that TikTok was installed 80 million times in May, compared with 53 million for Facebook’s main app.

Facebook’s goal with this testing seems to be to transform Instagram from a photo-sharing app to more of a social video app TikTok. Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, announced the plan to show full-screen, recommended videos in user feeds.

“We’re no longer a photo-sharing app or a square photo-sharing app,” Mosseri said. “Let’s be honest, there’s some really serious competition right now. TikTok is huge. YouTube is even bigger, and there’s lots of other upstarts as well.”

Why this is important:

Users will start to see Instagram’s changes in their feed including recommended videos and accounts. Since this is a new feature that will be slow to roll out, there will be many updates along the way. As Mosseri acknowledges:

“We’re also going to be experimenting with how do we embrace video more broadly — full screen, immersive, entertaining, mobile-first video. You’ll see us do a number of things, or experiment with a number of things in this space over the coming months.”

That said, this new feature is perfect for brands that already have a social media presence on Instagram, allowing them to post more TikTok-like videos. If this is an opportunity your brand would like to pursue, contact us about testing.

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Paid and Organic Social Media: A Tale of Synergy on Social Media Day

By Insights & News, Social Commerce, Social Media No Comments

Happy Social Media Day! Paid and organic social media are more often than not put into silos, so, we wanted to celebrate the true synergy of paid and organic by sharing our views on how they work together.

eMarketer found that 29.6% of US consumers completed a purchase via social media, showcasing that this audience is engaged and these platforms influence consumer purchase/lower funnel decisions.

Advantages of Organic Social Media Engagement

An organic user proactively looks for content, engages with your feed, and provides valuable feedback. They are a qualified, loyal audience that every company should pay attention to. Your organic audience will amplify your message by sharing your content with their friends and networks without requiring any advertising dollars, so it is vital to make your content engaging and sharable. A vigilant brand will use platforms like Sprout Social to help monitor brand engagement and sentiment on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., through social listening. By listening to your audiences and responding to feedback and messages, you become a key player in their decision-making process. You can get ahead of some of your consumer needs and expectations.

Additionally, organic social media platforms provide an excellent opportunity to share brand messaging, positioning and communicate with your existing social base. Audiences on engaged channels will dictate any changes they would like to see, giving brands the chance to be transparent with mission statements, share changes to products, and offer a first look to those actively participating with your social posts. This is a great audience to use for awareness and for scaling broad messages.

Advantages of Paid Social Media Campaigns

Paid Social flexes the ability to expand reach by using targeting that is relevant and scalable for your brand. You can target based on location, employment, household income for U.S. audiences (although there are exceptions with the special ad category), gender, age, and interests, creating more nuanced audiences based on campaign goals and channels. LinkedIn is for C-Suite targeting and is much more B2B-focused, whereas purchases for a beauty products are more likely to happen on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok.

How Organic and Paid Social Media Work Together

Working from channel insights, you can use organic contextual targeting and social listening and leverage these insights to develop personas and targeting segments. You can also expand on formats and tests you’ve performed in organic social media without running similar A/B tests that require a budget. We recommend create similar audiences to users who engage and interact with organic videos and target your followers to better focus on lower conversion events (such as lead ads or purchases). This can help expand your reach to a new audience. However, that is not where the cohesive conversation ends. Both organic and paid social media have a place in your marketing strategy.

Suppose a post performs well and gains high engagement (likes, comments, shares, etc.) organically. In that case, this success is something you will want to scale with paid dollars to capitalize upon the post’s organic success. Learnings from organic should inform paid, and vice versa, whether it is insights from comments received on posts or best-performing creative types. Leverage that success to a conversion or store locator ad and include lookalikes from your first-party data and site traffic to expand the impact of your organic posts. This will also help you remarket to loyal existing customers and drive impact to top consumers with special promotions and new product launches. Ensure you are using brand-approved hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to continue trending conversations.

Paid and Organic Social Media Play a Role In the Customer Journey

Successes from paid social media can be shared on organic social media, and organic social media successes should be shared on paid social media. These conversations/successes should be part of your holistic marketing plan instead of organic and paid social media working in silos, as each has its place in the consumer journey and ad conversion funnel. This goes beyond social media and should be a strategy utilized across all your digital marketing campaigns.

Your most influential advocates for your brand’s experiences and products are your social media followers. Feedback on paid and organic social media can work in tandem for updates, tweaks, and optimizations you might need to make as a brand. Potential influencers and UGC content are ripe for the taking, and brands can amplify these assets at an efficient ROAS without the content burden on your team. This applies to all paid and organic channels and can be used across channels like Snapchat, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.

According to Ad Roll, “On Facebook, organic posts only reach about 2% of followers, and that number is steadily declining.” Using the qualified nature of organic with the sophisticated tools of paid, you can cater to and expand your social presence as a whole while being both relevant and scalable. If you do not use insights from both, you will be missing an essential piece of the social media marketing puzzle, and your content marketing campaigns will lack impact.

POV by Gellena Lukats, Director of Paid Social Media and Mary Sutter, Director of Organic Social Media for Acronym

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Instagram Launches Reels Ads in All Regions

By Insights & News, Paid Media, Social Media, Uncategorized No Comments

Instagram Reels are getting ads.

The company announced it’s launching ads in its short-form video platform, Reels to businesses and advertisers worldwide. The ads can be up to 30 seconds in length, like Reels themselves, and will be vertical in format, similar to ads found in Instagram Stories. Also like Reels, the new ads will loop, and people will be able to like, comment on, and save them, the same as other Reels videos.

Instagram previously tested Reels ads in select markets earlier this year, including India, Brazil, Germany and Australia, then expanded those tests to Canada, France, the U.K. and the U.S. more recently. Early adopters of the new format included brands like BMW, Nestlé (Nespresso), Louis Vuitton, Netflix, Uber and others.

In a blog post, Instagram officials stated:

“After testing in select countries, we’re launching Reels ads to the world. Reels is the best place on Instagram to reach people who don’t follow you and a growing global stage where brands and creators can be discovered by anyone. These ads will help businesses reach greater audiences, allowing people to discover inspiring new content from brands and creators.”

The ads will appear in most places users view Reels content, including on the Reels tab, Reels in Stories, Reels in Explore and Reels in your Instagram Feed, and will appear in between individual Reels posted by users. However, in order to be served a Reels ad, the user first needs to be in the immersive, full-screen Reels viewer.

Why this is important:

As Instagram continues to position their Reels feature as a worthy competitor to the TikTok juggernaut, they are likely high invested in this placement becoming a success. It is also helpful for brands across all verticals to have yet another option for running content and reaching users.

This placement will roll out for all brands in the coming months and is probably best suited for more upper funnel KPIs like brand awareness and video views.

What action should brands take:

For optimal performance, creatives in this placement should be sized in a 9:16 ratio. At Acronym, we are still determining if existing creative that already runs in story placements is optimal as far as content, or if Reels sees more success in ads that feel more native and organic, as is the case with TikTok. Look for an update on that once we have it.

In the meantime, if you need assistance implementing ads on Instagram Reels, please contact us. We’re happy to help.

blog on phone

Our Experts Explain How Instagram’s Algorithms Work So You Drive Better Engagement

By Content Marketing, Social Media No Comments

As part of its Creator Week event, Instagram provided insight into how its algorithms working, noting “they want to do a better job of explaining how Instagram works” so marketers can better engage with the right audiences online. The most significant takeaway shared is that there isn’t one universal algorithm, but, rather, separate algorithms for Feed & Stories, Explore and Reels.

Why is this important? 

Many people refer to “the Instagram algorithm” as one omniscient system. Insights like these help us understand how different parts of the platform work and how we can optimize to them: while the Feed/Story algorithm centers around contextual topic and interpersonal signals, the Explore algorithm centers more around topic clusters (they will show posts about a certain topic “without necessarily understanding what each post is about”); and the evolving Reels algorithm centers around content and creator popularity and heavily leverages surveys.

While leaning into key topics your brand may center around, (e.g. travel), will help you appear on the Explore feed of topic enthusiasts, this shows that brands need to think about their individual relationships with consumers to get on the coveted Feed and Stories placements.

It’s not enough for someone to follow you: they have to have a history of engagement with you. In fact, there are several key factors that drive the content visibility within Instagram.

#1: Interest

A customers’ Instagram feed isn’t only based on that customer follows, it’s also based on the accounts and types of posts that are of interest to that customer. When the Instagram algorithm thinks a person will “like” a certain type of post, that type of content will appear more often in that feed.

Basically, what your target audience sees in their Instagram feed is a combination of all of their Instagram behaviors, including their likes, tags, and – especially comments. This is why it is so important for brands to post consistently on Instagram.

#2: Relationship 

The Instagram algorithm prioritizes posts from the accounts your audience cares about. Thomas Dimson, a software engineer at Instagram, explains it this way, Instagram places a higher relevance on content from:

  • People whose content you like (possibly including stories and live videos)
  • People you direct message
  • People you search for
  • People you know in real life

#3: Timeliness

Not only does the algorithm pay attention to how much engagement your Instagram post gets, but it also looks at how long ago the photo was posted. Instagram’s algorithm cares about when you posted, because it always wants to serve you the latest, most interesting posts. This is a departure from the Facebook’s approach to timeliness in those feeds. You can find the best times to post on Instagram on another Acronym blog post here.

#4: Frequency 

This goes back to what we said about consistently posting on Instagram. Users who open the app more often will see a more chronological feed. Users who check the app less frequently will be served up content based on topic versus in chronological order. So, if you want to tell a specific brand story or connect with your customers around timely content, you should make sure you are posting often.

#5: Following

Instagram factors in each users’ following on the app. The more active your followers are, the more you will see their content and the more often your content will appear in their feeds. However, if you have inactive followers, Instagram will not rank your feed as high as brands with followers who regularly  engage with the app. So, you may want to conduct regular purges of your following to eliminate inactive accounts.

#6: Usage

If you spend a lot of time on Instagram, you’re going to see more posts as Instagram digs deeper into its analytics. If you spend enough time on Instagram, you can even run out of new content to see. Once this happens, the algorithm will serve you suggested content from new accounts — based on your previous usage.

What actions should brands take? 

Remember that engagement is king on the Feed, and think about how you can get someone to interact with your post, not just view it. So, post consistently with content that is of interest to your following and engage with your following through likes and comments. With social media, like everything else in life, you get out of it what you put into it.

If you’d like assistance in better leveraging Instagram or any social platform with paid and organic content, please contact us. We’re here to help.

person on phone

Facebook Opens Messenger API for Instagram

By Social Media No Comments

Faced with stiff competition from other social media platforms like Snapchat and Twitter, Instagram is rolling out a new feature that allows brands to respond to customers through the Facebook Messenger API.

This highly anticipated feature will allow brands to respond to customers on Instagram from any third-party platform. In June, Instagram accounts with 10,000 to 100,000 followers will be connected to the API, followed by accounts with 1,000 and 100,000 followers in July, with remaining accounts being connected in Q3.

This is a significant step for customer service and will allow brands to have more personal interaction with their audience, as well as better optimize content by understanding the algorithms of this platform.

Why is this important? 

With 63% of Americans reporting they check Instagram daily and 43% of global users reporting they open the app multiple times within the same day, it’s no wonder brands want to engage with the more than one billion monthly active Instagram users.

Previously, in order to interact with customers on Instagram, businesses had to go into Instagram itself or use Facebook’s unified business inbox.

This is a significant development for brands with large volumes of Instagram engagement, as the inability to respond from third-party platforms, where many brands manage engagement from multiple platforms, was a big hindrance to efficiency and workflow.

Global brands with many business arms should find this a huge relief – something that will help not only efficiency but consolidating and improving sentiment analysis.

What actions should brands take? 

We recommend brands begin to adjust their workflow processes, including thinking about how to leverage the time previously spent on managing Instagram in a silo.

When the beta opens up, make sure to see how Instagram engagement impacts your sentiment data within any third-party platforms.

Some brands avoid Instagram Ads because the average CPC is higher than it is on Facebook. However, engagement rates on Instagram are around .96% as compared to 0.1% on Facebook and Twitter. So, while you do pay a bit more, you consistently see better results.

And, despite skewing a bit younger (71% of U.S adults on Instagram are between the ages of 18-29), the app’s users tend to have more disposable income:

  • 31% of people who make more than 75k per year are on Instagram.
  • 32% of people who make between 50k-74k per year are on Instagram.
  • 32% of people who bring in 30k to 49k per year are on Instagram.

So, driving engagement on this platform is critical for brands wanting to connect with Gen Z and Millennial customers. And, now, engagement through Messenger will make those connections more powerful. If you need assistance leveraging any social media platforms for your paid or organic campaigns, contact us. We’re happy to help.

POV by Acronym’s Paid Social Media Team

best times to post

Sprout Social’s List of Best Times to Post Organic Content

By Social Media No Comments

Sprout Social has published its latest list of best times to post to each major social media platform. As social media behaviors changed during the pandemic, Sprout monitored their customers to understand when their content was most and least frequently engaged with, broken out by platform and industry.

Sprout Social’s report could be a more accurate indicator of the best times to post for optimal engagement because it is based on its 20,000+ customer base, who use the platform to schedule and post online.

As the best times to post by engagement are unique to each brand and vertical market, this serves as an excellent overall guide or benchmark, but we do recommend individual brands conduct their own analysis of online engagement to ensure their content connects with all target audiences at the right times and in the right ways.  

Still, this can be a helpful guide, especially for brands that are just beginning to embark on organic social media engagement. 

Below is a brief glimpse of Sprout Social’s findings:

FACEBOOK

  • Best times: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • Best days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday
  • Worst day: Saturday

INSTAGRAM

  • Best times: Tuesday 11 a.m.–2 p.m., Monday – Friday 11 a.m.
  • Best day: Tuesday
  • Worst day: Sunday

 

TWITTER 

  • Best times: Wednesday 9 a.m.– 3 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 9–11 a.m.
  • Best day: Wednesday
  • Worst day: Saturday

 

LINKEDIN

  • Best times: Tuesday through Thursday 9 a.m.–noon
  • Best days: Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Worst day: Sunday