Where I tell you why the answer is in fact “nothing”, how to capitalize big from the end of Instagram’s chronological feed, and why my brand’s Instagram defies all normal laws of social media.
Introduction: Ignore All the Misinformation
I’ve been getting a lot of questions recently about the new direction Instagram is taking and what it means for ecommerce entrepreneurs, so I chose to address it in a new guide.
I’ll start this guide by pointing out that it is not often that changes in major destination sites or apps create real opportunities for ecommerce entrepreneurs, but the most recent changes announced by Instagram have created a huge one for anyone willing to see it.
By now you all know that Instagram announced that soon they will be killing off the “chronological” feed. Users have decried the changes as trying to ruin Instagram the way they ruined Facebook, while businesses are busy biting their nails, worried sick that they will no longer be able to reach their followers.
Step one to ending your anxiety is to ignore all the misinformation.
Industry gurus everywhere are predicting doom for businesses who rely on Instagram for sales. Many experts are recommending that businesses request their followers to “turn on post notifications” so they never miss a photo.
I won’t be posting one of these requests to any of my Instagram accounts, by the way. It’s desperate, and more importantly, ineffective.
There’s no way to measure the exact results of asking your followers to turn on post notifications. Of course, that’s probably why so many gurus recommend it. It’s good sounding advice that’s impossible to prove wrong.
Except it’s not that hard to prove wrong.
Let’s assume an average 2% engagement rate. Around 2% of your followers will interact with any one post you share on Instagram. This is a generous assumption, by the way, because most business accounts are actually lower.
Further let’s assume a 5% conversion rate. In another words 5% of people will actually comply with your request. This is also a generous assumption as 5% is an incredible conversion rate for an action that is very likely to produce an annoying outcome for the user (like turning on notifications).
Do that math. Less than 1/10th of 1% of your followers will ever bother turning on post notifications. If you have 10K followers, you’ll get a whopping 10 responses. And all 10 of those followers will probably hate you and your Instagram a month from now.
Marketing gurus love to pass along ridiculous suggestions like this. It makes them sound like they’ve got the problem covered, but saves them the time of actually thinking about the problem.
Just out of curiosity, how would you feel if you received a push notification every time your 10 most favorite Instagram accounts shared a post — about 25-50 times per day? That’s what you’re asking of your followers.
If you’re guilty of posting one of these to your Instagram, or have considered posting one, then this guide is for you. Don’t be ashamed. You feel desperate. You fear losing your hard-earned influence on Instagram, and you’re responding in whatever way you can.
And your fears are not unfounded. When Facebook switched to a non-chronological feed a few years back, many companies lost Facebook pages with tens of thousands of likes because they could no longer reach their audience. Sales fell off a cliff. And some companies simply folded.
But not only do I not fear the new Instagram; I’m looking forward to it. I expect my brand to reap massive gains from Instagram once the new feed is finally implemented. New followers, more engagement, and most importantly, record sales.
How am I able to remain so calm in the face of so many predictions of doom? Well, it’s a lesson I learned as a kid.
My dad instilled this principle in me when I was very young. Whenever you wonder what you should do, look at what the crowd is doing and do the opposite. That’s where success is.
This is the same fundamental principle that allowed guys likes Warren Buffet to see the market freakout of 2009 as an gigantic opportunity rather than a threat.
Why My Instagram Defies All Normal Laws of Social Media
By now many of you are wondering how I can be so confident that Instagram’s new feed won’t affect me when every other coach, trainer, guru, and expert is predicting exactly the opposite.
I’m confident that the new feed won’t affect my business because I never depended on the old feed. That’s a bold statement, so let me explain.
The normal law of social media is that The Feed is everything. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever. The Feed or The Timeline is how you reach your customers.
My Instagram defies the first law of social media because the feed is actually the last place that I connect with my customers.
Here I’ll provide a little background for those who don’t even know what “chronological” or “algorithmic” mean.
Up to now, pictures in your feed have been displayed in strictly chronological order. You’ll see every photo shared by every account you follow in the order it was shared. What that means for businesses is if you have 10K followers, your photo will be posted in 10K feeds.
Instagram will be replacing the chronological feed with an algorithmic feed. The new feed will be based around an algorithm designed to serve up the posts you most likely want to see, even if it’s from last night or two days ago.
Businesses are terrified by this. Naturally, they’re afraid the algorithm will deem their posts uninteresting — and effectively end all reach to their followers. Their Instagram will be worthless because they no longer have access to their followers feeds.
But what if you didn’t use the feed? Remember the bold statement I made. I’m not afraid of the new feed, because I never depended on the old feed.
The chronological feed will serve up your content for about 8 hours. You’re probably wondering how I know that, so follow me here.
The average Instagram user follows 265 accounts, and the average Instagram user posts 1.5x per day. That’s an average of 398 posts to your feed per day.
But Instagram only serves up the most recent 200 posts in your feed. I’ve been told this number repeatedly from different sources but I’ve never scrolled through 200 photos to verify it, and I doubt you have either, which kind of proves the point.
That puts an absolute limit on reaching the majority of your followers inside “the feed” at somewhere around twelve hours. Of course, we all know that our window of opportunity is actually much shorter.
My brand’s most popular content gets between 400-500 likes and 20-40 comments, although one recent post received over 80 comments.
But only about 150 of those engagements come in the first twelve hours. Translation: “The Feed” is only responsible for about 30% of total engagements. Amazingly, an overwhelming majority of engagements — an incredible 70% — steadily accumulate in the days and weeks after the photo is first shared.
How could that possibly be? Isn’t that the opposite of how social media is supposed to work? Keep reading, I’ll explain.
If you have already read my guide to generating ecommerce sales from Instagram you are probably experiencing an epiphany right about now. You just realized why the majority of my customer engagements occur long after the moment my posts are shared.
By the way, if you don’t want to read the massive 3000+ word guide on how to generate followers and sales on Instagram, here’s a shortcut. Watch my 15-minute guide on how to get your first 10k followers here.
If it hasn’t hit you yet, just wait. You’ll figure it out, and when you do, a big smile will spread across your face.
For those who have not yet read my Instagram guide, don’t worry. I’ll explain exactly why my brand’s Instagram account seemingly defies all normal laws of social media. For now, just remember this. If you got a like or comment to a post more than twelve hours after you posted it, then it didn’t come from the feed.
My posts continue to collect hundreds of likes and comments long after the original post because I actively engage with other Instagram users.
I like pictures, leave comments, and I follow accounts who are likely to be interested in my brand. But I’m only one guy, and I’m currently juggling a number of different projects, so I delegate this task.
I could hire someone to do it for me, but that could get expensive, and they would only work eight hours a day. So I opted to replicate my engagement with Instagress, which leaves likes, comments, and follows for me 24 hours a day.
And guess what happens? People respond. They answer my comments, they check out my account, they follow me, and sometimes they click through to my website and buy something.
In fact, this activity accounts for over 70% of all engagements with my Instagram. And I still generate new sales even when I don’t post new content for a few days.
Most businesses equate likes and comments with sales. The truth is I’ve found very little correlation between the two. Some of my best converting posts in terms of sales dollars receive very little attention in likes and comments. But they still generate plenty of traffic.
If you want to replicate my Instagram strategy start by reading my Entrepreneur’s Guide to Generating Ecommerce Sales from Instagram. In that guide, I share the exact settings I use.
That is why you don’t need to fear the new Instagram feed. But if you remember, I actually made an even bolder claim.
Instagram Just Gave Us All a Huge Gift
Yes, I believe the switch to the algorithmic feed will actually be a huge boom to those who know how to exploit it. I still get about 30% of my activity directly from the Instagram feed. Wouldn’t that be a significant loss?
Remember, most people equate likes with sales, but not us. In fact, most businesses don’t even know how to convert sales from Instagram in the first place. So when the new feed is unveiled, many Instagrammers will see their likes/comments fall off a cliff, and with it, their 1-2 sales per month will disappear into nothing.
What do you think will happen next?
We will see a mass exodus from Instagram. It won’t happen all at once. And they won’t announce it. But slowly, many startup brands will begin to forsake Instagram for greener pastures — many “gurus” are recommending Snapchat or whatever the latest fad is.
Others will close their business altogether. It’s a sad prediction, but there is a historical precedent. This is exactly what happened when Facebook changed their feed. Mass exodus. Businesses closed.
You might see a small drop in likes/comments initially. But because you know how to keep a minimum of 70% of your engagement and traffic, and more importantly, you know how to convert sales, you’ll survive.
And as the competition disappears I predict you’ll see a steady incremental increase in engagement and sales. And when it’s all said and done you’ll come out ahead of where you were before the new feed was unveiled.
Let me share a case study to prove my point.
Case Study: Authentic Americans
Recently while a friend of mine was in between jobs I encouraged him to start an ecommerce store. He’s quite a gifted artist and also 50% Native America. So he started Tshirt shop from scratch called Authentic Americans.
I treated him just like any other entrepreneur who needed help starting out. I sent him a link to my Instagram guide and told him to follow it exactly and contact me in a month. That was about three months ago.
Two months ago he found a great new job, but it had long hours. Between that and his family, he literally had zero time to mess with his Instagram. I told him not to worry. Keep running Instagress, keep engaging with people, and post whenever you find time.
You can check out his account here: https://www.instagram.com/authentic.americans/. And he sent me this yesterday:
Amazingly, in March his growth exploded even though he only shared a single post the entire month. Now he’s at 4,400 followers and brings in steady traffic to his site all month long — netting him about $500 in sales — all while never entering the feed of a single Instagram user.
So, if you’re afraid of the new feed, the answer is simple. Make sure your Instagram isn’t dependent on the feed. Thanks for reading this guide. I hope it’s helpful. Like always it’s free, but I would appreciate a share on your favorite social media platform.