instagram engagement rates are on the decline for brands and influencers. now what?
Instagram Engagement Rates Are Down, As Facebook Evolves Its Platform
In two recent posts on Social Media Today and Mobile Marketing, studies have found that brands engagement rates have begun to decrease and influencer engagement rates are at an all-time low. This is not too surprising though, the space has been the wild, wild, west for a few years and things are tightening up.
Several years ago, we saw Facebook (who owns Instagram) begin to limit the reach for brands and influencers on its platform. It now appears our friends at Facebook are starting to apply the same tactics to Instagram.
As Instagram becomes more crowded with brands and influencers, inventory in the feeds has become more limited, so the natural next step is to begin to limit a brand's reach and increase ad prices. In the past few months, we have seen CPC (cost per click) increase and impressions decline - very similar to what Facebook implemented for brands over the past few years.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
As brand marketers, we need to focus on creating quality content and building meaningful relationships with your audience. Ask yourself - how can I be highly relevant to a small but influential group of customers that LOVE you so much they invited you into their feeds? These are your brand advocates.
Facebook and Instagram leaders tell us people only want to see family and friends in their feeds and a few select brands. By creating these connections, you can buck the trend and increase engagement and reach. If you can be part of someone's life by providing true value they will ultimately help drive conversion.
As Mark Schafer told Kristin Carpenter (my boss! - like and share this post :0 please) on Channel Mastery - “Two-thirds of the touch points during the evaluation phase of a purchase involve human-driven marketing activities like internet reviews, social media conversations, and word-of-mouth recommendations from friends, family, and online experts.”
Yes, potentially “⅔ of your marketing is not your marketing.” Think about that. So, how are you currently interacting with your customers online and on social?
MARK ZUCKERBERG SAYS SO
“Today we already see that private messaging, ephemeral stories, and small groups are by far the fastest growing areas of online communication.” - The Zuck
This excerpt comes from a recently penned post by Mark Zuckerberg, titled A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking, where he goes into great detail about the direction of the platform. We are witnessing Facebook and Instagram go from very open platforms to very closed and private platforms. By staying up-to-date with the latest news and hints, you can get ahead and align with the upcoming changes before your competitors by creating connections now (if you have not already).
We recommend paying attention to what Mark Zuckerberg says and writes. He frequently tells people exactly what to do and how to do it. As the platform launches and updates new products, they will often favor brands using the new tools. This strategy gives them multiple times the reach to increase adoption of the new products and features.
How can you capitalize on the changes?
ARE INFLUENCERS GOING AWAY?
Maybe, but probably not. Recently, Instagram started testing removing “Like” counts for posts in Canada, which Instagram expanded this week to 6 other countries. While Facebook stated they want to see how content performs without this metric, I see something a bit deeper; the amount of money Facebook and Instagram have lost via influencers. While influencers helped turn Instagram into a must-have app, brands have flocked to influencers and paid out great sums of money directly to these people (and pets) all while leaving Instagram without a slice of the pie. I believe they are searching for and testing ways to restrict influencers and cash in - either making influencers pay for reach or charging brands. Time will tell!
Update 7/29/19: In a recent interview with Akvile Defazio on Channel Mastery, Kristen Carpenter and her discuss Instagram Shopping and the how they see influencers playing a roll in that new feature, as well how brands can leverage this feature in the coming months.
In the meantime, influencers and ambassadors are still a great way to get in front of potential audiences. When Verde researches and vets influencers and ambassadors we look at several factors. We are not necessarily looking for people with the largest reach or biggest ‘influence but more how they fit with a brand and its voice and tone’. In short, we value relationships over metrics.
At the end of the day, Instagram is another lever to pull in your arsenal of your marketing channels and it is . I often ask myself - “How are they making money?” In the case of Instagram, it is by serving quality content to its audience. Content that keeps people on their app and coming back. More eyeballs mean they can charge more for advertising.
This all goes back to providing your followers and customers with quality content. Keep in mind the intent of Instagram and how, when, and why people are using it. It is just one more touchpoint to keep you and your brand top-of-mind in a digitally crowded world.