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How Instagram’s algorithm change is hurting small businesses

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Sana Xavier Qadri, who started her own spice company, took to Instagram for marketing. Diaspora Company, In 2017. “I give them full credit for our growth – and then the algorithm changed and our sales dropped dramatically,” she said. “There was a point where I dreamed that Instagram might return like things, and my nightmares were all the reasons why that was impossible.”

Since joining Instagram, the diaspora has grown to over 100,000 followers. “Until three months ago, we never paid for ads on Instagram,” Ms. Xavier Qadri said, although the company has used public relations agencies. “These aren’t tough numbers, but we’ve seen 2,000 to 3,000 likes in many posts for our 100,000-person audience,” she added. “It’s like 200 to 300 now.”

Since the advent of Instagram in 2010, sharing food photos, writing thoughtful captions and adding relevant hashtags has become the basis of many small food businesses’ social networking strategy, and low cost of advertising. Then, in late 2021, Instagram’s parent company, Meta, changed its platform algorithm to prioritize videos, called Reels. Accounts that do not regularly post short-form videos appear below those that embrace the format in users’ Instagram feeds, resulting in a significant drop in engagement to posts – and, consequently, sales – for many small businesses.

“By the way Instagram moves everything to video, it has reduced the amount of traffic we receive to our Instagram account, and that means more to our website,” said Skyler Maps. Exau olive oil. “You have to fight harder than ever to get out and see.”

Adam Moseri, head of Instagram, announced the change A video Posted on his Twitter account in the last days of 2021. “We’re going to double our focus on the video,” Mr Moseri said. “We’re no longer just a photo-sharing app.”

He added that the company is focused on growing reels, which was presented in August 2020 as a clear response to the success of TikTok. The reels appear on the Instagram user’s feed and search content search page; Videos can only be one minute long and can be filmed and edited within the app.

The change has hit small food companies and their social media managers hard. Instagram feed captions have served as a way to humanize direct line and brand accounts to consumers.

“It’s scary because I was really good at taking beautiful pictures and writing long emotional captions,” said Ms. Xavier Qadri.

While Pivot does not involve much writing on the reels, it does require video production experience. Instagram Tells its users Successful reels are of high quality; Use text, filters and camera effects; Set to music and trending sounds; And there are “entertaining and fun” content that “makes people happy, grabs their attention, makes them laugh or gives them funny surprises or twists.”

This is not a small achievement for business owners and social editors who lack video-editing skills. Abigail Knopf, marketing director of Mushroom Company Small holdIt is a great lift for his team.

“Planning, editing and voice-over and music skills for more produced video content is very different from static iPhone photography,” she said.

Ms. Knopf has two options left: “We can sometimes work with freelancers who are, rightly, at high cost, or be patient while we learn these new skills at work.”

Some Instagram managers with these skills still need to pay for outside help. Danita Evangeline White, who runs the social network Trade Street Jam CompanyThe last 90 days have seen a 38 percent drop in access or the number of users viewing the company’s content. Traffic to the company’s website has also dropped by a third since the end of 2021. Ms White has added more videos to the company’s account, which has about 25,500 followers, but she believes its content is still not a priority. Algorithm.

After considering its options, Trade Street Jam hired a social media consultant to audit Instagram. “Our founder is just a full-time employee; we don’t have much budget for outside marketing or consulting,” said Ms. White, “but we thought it would be worth the investment.”

A new favorite way for companies to end reliance on Instagram’s algorithm: Move to another platform.

PJ Monte, Founder Good Monte food, Diverted her attention from Instagram to TikTok. “Originally there were no followers on TikTok, so I got two videos A few million viewsMr Monte said.

Ms. Xavier Qadri also shifted her focus to Tiktok, and six months later to the Diaspora’s own Viral video. This has increased the company’s followers on the platform, she said, “but it’s not like TikTok will suddenly bring in money,” because the app doesn’t have integrated shopping features or links like Instagram. (The company declined to provide sales figures.)

Brands whose bottom line remains unaffected are those who foresaw inevitable algorithm changes. Denetrias Charlemagne, a founder Avec drinksRelying on press relations and word-of-mouth marketing, ignore the heavy investment in social media from the beginning.

“Our strategy would never be to build on Instagram,” said Ms. Charlemagne, who has experience working in the media. She pointed to Facebook’s decision to change its algorithm in 2018, prioritizing brand accounts and reducing traffic to media companies.

Ultimately, the success of small businesses on social media is in the hands of some corporations.

“These platforms do not belong to us, they belong to technical companies,” said Ms. Maps of Exau. Now, she said, “I had to fight harder than ever to get out and see,” she said. “I’ve got it over with.”

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