By Kelly Ehlers, the President of Ideas That Evoke.
Between the Facebook Developer Conference (F8) and the rollout of Instagram's new algorithm, entrepreneurs are rethinking their brand strategies. Embracing change is easier with a little insight behind the scenes at Facebook and Instagram, which is just what I got at F8. One commonality across recent changes at Facebook and Instagram: a quality over quantity mentality that focuses on meaningful connections.
Try these tips to better connect with your following and make the most of your personal brand.
Business Gets Personal
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's F8 conference keynote emphasized the platform's focus on meaningful relationships between users. A closer look shows that same sentiment is also driving the new Instagram algorithm. For entrepreneurs, that means adding a personal touch to your content. The great thing about personal branding is just that: it's personal. Don't be afraid to share your passion (what drives you as an entrepreneur) with your followers. Authenticity sparks a response. Lean into your niche instead of imitating the competition. Creating authentic, engaging content and maintaining real-time responses will resonate with your followers. That can be the difference between users scrolling past your posts or growing an engaged following that keeps your content topping the algorithm.
Why the Instagram Algorithm Matters
Instagram's new algorithm was designed to strike a chord with users and show us what we really want. How does it know what we like? For starters, it keeps track of what users literally "like." According to an Instagram Product Lead via Tech Crunch, those double-taps are being taken into account to deliver a better user experience. This is just one of three factors -- interest, relationship and timeliness -- that have been identified behind the new algorithm. "Interest" considers a user's liking behavior. "Timeliness" self-corrects the 2016 algorithm that favored engagement over chronology, so you won't need to worry about a new post being hidden under a popular, yet irrelevant, older post. Finally, "relationship" is, you guessed it, based on your audience's interactions. When you or your followers tag each other in posts and comments, Instagram recognizes that engagement and boosts your visibility for each other.
While it's easy to understand why Zuckerberg's team wants to emphasize meaningful connections across social platforms, it is less clear how they measure meaning -- and how entrepreneurs can do the same. Data can tell a story, but numbers alone often leave a little guesswork to brand analytics. At F8, Zuckerberg revealed a next-level tool to provide a bigger picture of each consumer's story: Journey by Facebook Analytics. Similar to the way Instagram takes stock of user behavior, Journey tracks consumer behavior across social platforms and devices. It then displays touch points of an individual user's interactions with a brand. Ever wonder if that seminar you led sold more tickets on Instagram or Facebook, or if they sold at first-look? With Journey, entrepreneurs can access a more nuanced profile of not just who but how users are interacting with their brand. All those numbers aside, it's important to stay connected to each individual on the other side of the screen. Your social accounts should meet your followers where they are, be that a Facebook ad on desktop or an Instagram story on mobile.
Branding is in the details. Even features as seemingly insignificant as GIFs or a filter in an Instagram Story can make an impact on your personal brand's reach. Augmented reality is taking Instagram by storm with branded filters and GIF stickers. Not only can entrepreneurs get playful with standard filters, we can now create branded AR features for other users to add to their content. User-generated content (UGC) is a valuable way for brands to spread influence with an authentic feel. For entrepreneurs, UGC can be anything from someone quoting (and tagging) you in a post to sharing a selfie from your last seminar. By creating branded GIFs or filters, your followers can post even more and turn UGC into user-branded content -- and increased visibility. It all starts with those individual, meaningful connections.
By emphasizing authentic content and meaningful connections, entrepreneurs can make a stronger impact on our growing networks. Set the new standard by leveraging these recent social media updates to develop an ongoing, dynamic relationship with your audience.
Kelly Ehlers is the President of Ideas That Evoke, a social media and PR agency, the 24th Fastest Growing Agency in 2016, Inc Magazine.