I’m not usually one to talk about algorithms and engagement. I find it a tedious and a tad pretentious when people post on their social channels complaining that they aren't getting the amount of likes they usually do. But, like it or not, algorithms and engagement have a huge impact on your business analytics and I believe all business owners need to keep a close eye on their analytics. Not to mention, social media analytics, especially, for whatever reason, also seem to have a huge impact on our perceived self-worth as business owners when maybe they shouldn't.
So let’s talk about them.
Noticing a change in the trend
You’ve probably heard all kind of ~*ExPeRtS*~ say “if your content isn’t getting good reach and engagement then it must not be engaging content.” I, too, believed this and lived by this. I made sure to keep my target audience in mind when creating all of my marketing content and worked hard to tap into their struggles and interests while also making sure my content was sharable and savable.
And yet, my instagram reach tanked over the last few months.
I wasn't sure why. I hadn't dramatically changed my strategy or approach. Previously, reels I made would reach over 1k people. Now I was lucky if they hit 200. My analytics for posts and carousels were a little more scattered, but generally I used to reach anywhere between 400-800+ accounts. Now, most of my posts weren't even hitting 200.
At first I was confused. I blamed myself. “But I’m really putting a lot of effort into making engaging, helpful, sharable content! What am I doing wrong?!” But then I saw something that made me realize, it’s not me that’s the problem. It’s *them* (them being whatever the powers the be are that write the algorithms for these apps.)
I analyzed two recent posts that saw higher reach that most and noticed something didn't quite align with everything I had believe about how the instagram algorithm works.
Taking a closer look
The first post I looked at was a less sharable, static post telling people that I’m on Threads now.
That post was shared twice (bless the two souls who found it interesting enough to share), saw 46 accounts engaged, incited 7 profile actions, and reached almost 700 people, and majority of those were non-followers. I was shocked. I hadn't seen numbers like this in months. But it made sense to me that Instagram would promote posts that talked about their new platform, Threads, higher in the algorithm.
The next post I looked at was a very sharable carousel post that was on trend with the current cultural zeitgeist and societal conversation. I was pretty proud of myself and thought would take off. It was about the marketing example small businesses could take from the Barbie Movie marketing team.
That post was shared 8 times, saved 6 times, engaged 53 accounts, incited more than double the profile activity of my other post, and yet it only reached 368 accounts and only 79 of those were non-followers.
Experts will tell you that liking, commenting, saving, and sharing are all important in helping your posts get the most reach, but this example highlights to me there’s something else going on.
In this case, the post that got the most saves and shares had less than half the reach of the first post and was only shown to a tiny fraction of new eyes.
Why, exactly? I don’t know. My best guess is that, for whatever reason, the instagram algorithm was burying Barbie content.
This example shows me that no matter what you do, whether you're getting the most likes or shares or whatever, it doesn't matter. When we market on other people’s platforms we are at the mercy of their rules. This is why it’s so critical to make sure that you’re creating a place for your business where you can make the rules.
Build an email list.
Create your own website.
Create your own community.
In the meantime, keep an eye on your analytics but don’t get discouraged. Let this serve as a reminder that if your content that you’re working so hard on is not getting as much traction as you hoped—it’s not you.