This weekend my Instagram feed was full of users asking me to subscribe to their notifications. That’s a pretty big ask. If I subscribe to your Instagram notifications I get push notifications on my phone each time you post.
There was a rumour, no one quite knows where it started but there was a rumour. It said that the new Instagram Algorithm was going to be rolled out this week.
If you’ve been following my social media channels you’ll know I’m not a big fan of the idea of an algorithm. From a user perspective, I like seeing snippets from the lives of the people I follow as they happen. I like Instagram being ‘Instant’, in the moment.
The algorithm, that will appear eventually, will spoil my user experience and change the network for good.
Here are my thoughts on Instagram notifications:
How Marketers Broke Instagram
I can understand why Instagram are introducing the algorithm and it’s our fault as marketers. Businesses have flocked towards Instagram in the last year, attracted by the promise of more interaction, more engagement and freedom from algorithms.
As businesses have embraced Instagram the quality of posts has declined. Instead of seeing moments from people’s lives I see a lot of ads and I’m not talking about paid ads, I’m talking about posts from businesses advertising their wares.
This is inevitable on any platform that becomes popular enough for marketers to see the advantage of using it. I know I’ve contributed to the noise, sharing quotes, info about my latest blog posts and other non-instagrammy content. As always it’s us marketers that have broken Instagram.
Facebook’s solution is to add a filter to our Instagram feeds. It has worked on Facebook and I’m sure it will work on Instagram. When introduced users will see the content that they like the most first. If it works as well as the Facebook algorithm the content we see at the top of the feed will be posts from accounts you interact with and posts that you are likely to interact with. What is a disaster for business could end up being a better experience for users. We’ll have to wait and see.
So over the weekend when the rumour emerged, businesses did what they always do, they begged people to subscribe to their Instagram posts. By subscribing, users agree to get notifications (in many cases push notifications) from the people they subscribe to. If people are subscribing to posts from your business you have a responsibility.
Here are the questions you need to ask yourself before asking people to subscribe to your Instagram notifications:
1. Is your content amazing? I mean really amazing? If so there’s no harm getting people to sign up for notifications, there will be something worthwhile at the end of every notification.
If you are asking people to commit to notifications you need to ensure that you are delivering delightful content, content that it’s worth getting interrupted to view. Look at your posts before you share them, are they delightful? If not perhaps you shouldn’t post them.
2. How often should you post? Once people have subscribed to your posts you have to be careful not to overwhelm subscribers with content. Even if you have a lot of amazing posts to share every day you’ll need to make sure they are well spaced out.
Do you want to be responsible for the constant buzzing of someone’s phone? Even if your content is fantastic a lot of notifications are bound to put users off.
If people subscribe to your Instagram notifications it’s a sign that they are loyal. Aim to keep them that way by producing top quality content and you can’t fail. Even if people don’t subscribe the quality of your content will ensure you appear at the top of the new algorithm.
So before you ask people to switch on Instagram notifications, take a look again at what you post. Ask yourself, is it notification worthy?