Big changes in the way Instagram prioritizes content in users’ feeds are forcing digital publishers to rethink their Instagram content strategies.
Updates to Instagram’s algorithm mean users today are more likely to see longer videos from brands and media companies than short clips posted by their friends. The move is reportedly part of a larger push behind the scenes at Instagram to more fully monetize the platform, but it could also have some big benefits for digital publications that are willing to make adjustments to their Instagram content strategies.
Several factors determine a publication’s approach to creating Instagram content, including the number of staffers that publication has available to handle social media, whether the publication wants to take an informative or entertaining approach, and the choice of topics the publication wants to cover. (For example, a political magazine would post political content, a fashion magazine would post fashion content, etc.)
Success on Instagram in 2021 requires the same level of creativity and thoughtfulness as it did in previous years. It’s about finding a voice and coming up with a creative way to tell stories through video and images. Instagram’s latest algorithm updates just put more weight behind longer stories (videos), which is something to consider when coming up with your Instagram content strategies.
Instagram was already showing recommended photos in user feeds before this latest update, and allowing for both 15-second and 30-second video reels, as well as longer live videos that can last up to four hours. However, Instagram users now have started noticing that they have less control over what shows up in their feeds, and more of the content they’re being served comes from accounts they don’t follow.
What’s the best approach for digital publishers using Instagram in 2021?
As you put together your Instagram content, consider these potential strategies.
With user feeds on Instagram not being shown in chronological order, digital publishers are finding it harder to use this channel for breaking news and current events coverage. A follower might not see a publisher’s in-feed video until hours, or even days have passed. However, that doesn’t mean news publishers should give up on their Instagram content strategies altogether.
When it comes to straight news reporting, the best recipe for success includes a balance between information and entertainment. The publication’s social media “host” (usually a top editor or a reporter) should build a professional relationship with the Instagram audience. The approach of having just one or two social media personalities is preferable to having a publisher’s staff take turns in front of the camera.
Digital publishers, or their on-camera “hosts,” can inject news-related content into popular memes and post video clips with “fun facts” about important news events. These types of reported news videos are sharable and they encourage engagement, which is especially important on a social network like Instagram.
Explainers are the bread and butter of digital publishers on Instagram. Explainer videos inject educational content into the stories people are talking about today. The best explainer videos have high production values, and they usually come from a team rather than an individual at the publication. Explainer videos are more likely to focus on content, whereas other types of Instagram videos are more likely to focus on the personality of the host.
People are curious by nature. Creative digital publishers have attempted to capitalize on this by allowing some of their reporters to create journalist vlogs, giving social media followers a look at what happens behind the scenes at a news publication. This is another approach that focuses on a single host (usually someone very charismatic) to run the account, rather than having a dedicated team.
Like TikTok, Instagram is known as a place for people rather than brands. If you want to get Instagram’s audience invested in your publication, then helping those users form a bond or a relationship with a member of your team is one way to do it.
Instagram is seen as the place for fun. Rather than trying to fit educational news information into Instagram videos, go the opposite direction and embrace pure entertainment. Funny skits, cute animals, catchy memes — it’s all popular on Instagram. This type of content is easy to solicit from readers themselves, which means it doesn’t require as much of an investment from a monetary standpoint.
To learn even more about putting your best foot forward on Instagram, read Instagram for Publishers: How to Drive Traffic & Engagement.