Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
If you've been hanging out on Instagram lately, you'll have found it impossible to ignore the masses kicking off and complaining about how it works these days.
People are mad because they believe Instagram's changes are why they can't get the same results with their content as they did a few years ago.
Photographers, influencers, old-school Instagram users and small businesses have been boycotting Instagram in a bid to get it to return to the ‘old version' and blame a decline in business on recent Instagram updates.
Instagram users believe an algorithm change and the introduction of Reels means their content gets less reach.
Instagram Reels are not a new feature! Instagram introduced Reels in August 2020, during the global pandemic when people were using social media far more than ever before, and two years later, they are a big part of the platform.
But the introduction of Instagram Reels is not the sole reason for declining results on the platform.
How people are using social media has changed dramatically since before the pandemic. There are more people on every platform in 2023 than ever.
This means there is more competition to be seen than ever before.
And not only is there more content to compete with, the way people use social media has also shifted over the years.
When people open a social media app these days, they're looking for entertainment, inspiration, education and connection.
We are no longer interested in selfies or pictures of avocado on toast (were we ever??). The content that worked in 2019 no longer provides the dopamine hit we all crave because it doesn't provide us with the entertainment, inspiration, education and connection we are looking for.
When user behaviour changes, your marketing strategy needs to adapt too.
Statistics show that 9/10 of Instagram users watch videos daily, so if you're not creating videos on the platform, you aren't providing what your audience is looking for.
And that's a big mistake.
The biggest mistake marketers make when creating content for Instagram is prioritising the algorithm and what they think Instagram wants them to do above the audience's needs.
Human psychology is a key part of social media marketing. Instagram knows this, and data from over 1 billion monthly users show them exactly what people are doing on Instagram. What they are looking for, what they engage with and what they scroll past.
Instagram is not the first platform to change; it won't be the last.
Over the years, there have been massive changes on all the platforms, including Pinterest, Facebook and even Google.
And the influencers, businesses and marketers who have embraced those changes and updated their strategies are the ones who have seen continued growth and success on the platforms.
When a platform changes, we need to learn to adapt.
How to get results on Instagram in 2023
Instagram has recently bowed to pressure and rolled back a decision to have a full-screen feed. But it's not just about what Instagram is doing. To get results on Instagram in 2023 and beyond, we need to truly consider the user and the psychology behind why they are on the app and what they are looking for from your content.
#1: Review your audience
You must truly understand your audience to get results on Instagram (and other social media platforms). Spend time reviewing your audience personas and what they want from your content.
Then ensure your content provides what THEY are looking for rather than what YOU want to create.
You might love sharing individual photos or selfies, but if your audience reacts better to a carousel graphic or short video, you should embrace that and give them what they are looking for.
#2: Learn from your audience
Your audience will show you the content they enjoy. Simply look at their feed to see what they are creating, watch their stories to see what they are sharing and review their hashtags to discover what they are consuming.
And use that intel to inform your content strategy.
#3: Use the Instagram Insights
Review your stats and learn from them. Do more of what's working and figure out how to improve on what's not.
Remember that to be successful at social media marketing, you should constantly be testing and doubling down on what works until it no longer serves you.
Don't rely solely on external sources telling you which content format works on the platform. But, if your research and analytics back up those opinions, then don't ignore them.
#4: Use a CTA
Your audience isn't on Instagram to engage with you! So if you want them to, you need to tell them exactly how to do that by adding a CTA to your posts.
#5: Be more creative.
Just because your content is mainly photos, it doesn't mean you can only share them as single-image posts.
According to Later, Carousel posts have the highest average engagement rate of all feed post types, so we'd recommend you include them in your testing strategy.
Reels can work well without showing your face or dancing. Simply by showing a product in a Reel, you can build a deeper connection with your audience.
#6: Don't build your business on borrowed land
Instagram may be where your audience is hanging out, and it may be a free platform. But it is not a public space we all have a right to access. Instagram is a business; relying on someone else's business to grow your own is not wise.
For this reason, we recommend you spend as much time generating website traffic and growing your email list as you do on your Instagram growth.
How to help business owners struggling with Instagram in 2023
Social media marketers have a huge opportunity to help small business owners get better Instagram results in 2023.
This starts with educating your audience about how to use Instagram in 2023, so they can get results without needing to boycott the platform.
Not all business owners want to outsource their marketing, and not all can afford to.
So it is crucial that social media managers offer services to suit different needs and budgets.
The quickest way to help a small business owner get better results on social media in 2023 is by providing a comprehensive audit of their content to ensure they understand what is working and what could be improved.
After an audit, you could offer them some training, consultancy, or even a VIP day to help them implement the changes they need to make to get the desired results.
Instagram is still a great platform to build a community and line up leads for your business.