Gone are the days when Instagram was simply a space used to update your friends and family on the latest in your life. Long gone! The Instagram that we know and use today is an intricately wired marketing tool used to maximise sales, spread news and awareness, create content and the odd flex here and there. Lately, conversations about Instagram have revolved around its ever-changing and somewhat frustrating algorithm pattern. The amount of “I didn’t see your post!” exchanges between friends has increased and we can attribute that to this 13-year-old capricious little app.
Active consumers, ‘instagrammers’ and Influencers across the spectrum (nano-mega) witnessed a spike in their engagement during the height of the pandemic back in March 2020. We all know the saying about idle hands? Instagram received an influx of posts per day from hundreds of thousands of accounts globally. From cooking tutorials via IGTV to countless hashtag challenges, all eyes have been on Instagram. Many brands have also used the downtime to amp up their Instagram profiles in an effort to remain relevant and maintain a consistent communication with customers. How has this increased importance on Instagram affected Influencers?
Influencing as a profession is a relatively new line of work which means that a lot of Influencers and content creators are learning on-the-go. With Instagram more or less love-bombing its users with so many new features, it has become significantly harder to maintain audience retention across all avenues and lots of quality content often gets lost within the mix. Instagram algorithms studies your Instagram behavioural patterns and will make content that you ‘like’ visible to you. However, if your audience does not ‘like’ your content (likes, comments, shares and saves) then it gets hidden and is not seen. So mathematically:
Increased audience retention = better engagement = brand recognition = £
Influencers have proven to be a much-needed resource for brands who have lost a physical relationship with customers. Thinking outside of the box to create innovative and engaging content safely at home is not as easy as it looks as explained further by teacher and digital content creator, Kike AJ. Kike has 11.1k followers and has successfully accumulated almost 800k views via Reels.
How have you adapted your content creation during this lockdown period?
I actually started to take my content more seriously when we went into the first lockdown. I had been creating content on Youtube. However, I had not spent time translating this creativity to Instagram specifically. I started to try and share content on this platform more often since I was home and had more time on my hands. Not being able to go out meant thinking about how to make content in my room, which is a lot harder than you think.
Has it been hard trying to keep up with the new Instagram features?
Definitely! When IGTV was first introduced, I didn’t touch it for 2 years. It wasn’t until lockdown happened and I realised the importance of diversifying your content to keep your audience engaged. When Reels were introduced, I quickly saw an opportunity to get involved using this new feature to further diversify my content. Variety is the spice of life. In fact, Reels allow me to really get into my creative bag (they are quite fun to make and edit too). I’m hearing Guides have been introduced too, I wonder how this will affect content for us content creators.
How has your personal brand evolved and how has this helped you create engaging content?
When I first started Youtube back in 2015, I had zero thought towards branding and making content that would keep my audience engaged. I created what I wanted with the personality I had and over time this grew into a key part of my brand — reliability and authenticity. So, I’ve found that when creating content it’s best to just go with the flow and try not force anything because it feels inauthentic and that doesn’t fit well with the vibe I’m trying to create on my socials.
Is it hard to find a balance between creating content that you enjoy and creating content that your audience enjoys?
A very difficult balance to strike. What I have learnt is that you can pretty much create anything but it’s important to find a way to make it yours. How do you seal your own stamp of authenticity on your content? That way you’re creating something your audience enjoys but doing it in a way that you enjoy. Take hauls for example: done by many but only you can do them the way you do, which is why your audience will chime in over and over again.
How do you juggle content creation and your job? Do you allocate days to creating content?
GURL! First of all, I say this all the time but working is the ghetto. I work as a full-time teacher, 5 days a week. Prior to us being in lockdown, I struggled to think about creating content during term time and reserved it solely for school holidays as I thought that this would be the only time I had to make content. Fast forward to returning to work after lockdown, I made a commitment to myself to continue making content especially because I had gained some momentum. Now I make time for creating content, for the week ahead, on the weekend. It can get tiring and some weekends I want to rest and not do a single thing but I acknowledge that good things require work and dedication. Stopping now won’t get me anywhere.
Let’s put it this way: Instagram needs us! It wants us to utilise all its new avenues and in return, it’ll reward us with the growth and exposure that we need. Post your picture/s, make Reels, use IGTV, consider whether you want to build a following or a community because these are very different and finally as Kike mentioned, how can you put your stamp of authenticity on your content? Thinking of Instagram as a business will help you take strategic steps ahead of its algorithm.