TL;DR: Tips on how creators can increase reach, followers and monetise their content on Instagram taken from the first Creator Week.
A lot has been said on how content creators can build their brands on Instagram, do what they love and earn a living through it. But finding the inside scoop, right from the horse’s mouth, so to say, has been challenging.
That changed about two weeks back when both Adam Mosseri and Mark Zuckerberg dropped all sorts of interesting titbits during the first-ever Creator Week. I know I’m a little to the party but some of the things discussed struck a chord and are worth sharing.
Reach oscillating? You can and can’t blame it on the algorithm.
Contrary to popular belief, Instagram doesn’t have one algorithm (yes, this was news to me as well). Instead, each section of the app uses a different algorithm. The Feed has one, Reels another, Explore one more and so on.
Each algorithm is customized according to how people use it. On top of it, classifiers and processes impact them. That means you can’t blame the algorithm when your reach goes down (or up).
That said, the different algorithms do play a small part in reach because they are constantly changing. Exacerbating the fluctuations is the rising users. It’s increased the competition, making reach stats unstable.
Adam published a detailed blog on exactly how Instagram’s algorithms work, in case you’re interested in further reading.
Conquering reach? There is no silver bullet, but you can try a bunch of different things.
We’ve been repeating this at DYT: there is no one fixed way to expand reach because “what works for your audience might not work for another creator.”
A good rule of thumb is to experiment with content. Try new things because “what resonates with your followers now is definitely going to be different from a year back.”
Videos are another great practice to build reach, particularly the first few seconds as they hook in viewers. Consistency is another tip. Post 2 stories every day and 2 posts on the feed every week. Finally, hashtags increase discoverability and are invaluable in building an audience.
Do new features like Reels boost reach because Instagram prioritizes them?
Another Live session clarified this. New surfaces like Reels don’t impact your reach directly. What they do is amplify the chance that new users will discover you through the app because your content is likely to show up in different places.
Fake followers? You should never, ever buy them.
Again, a learning we’ve emphasized on DYT – dodge fake followers because they harm you in the long run. The temptation is high because most of the value creators have is in the reach bucket. The higher your reach, the more you earn.
But paying a service for fake followers requires a creator to log in through them, which gives them your password. And that compromises privacy and puts the account at significant risk.
Another reason is Instagram’s detection systems which are constantly improving. If they catch bot activity and start removing fake accounts, you can get caught up in the crosshairs.
Tyranny of abusers? Hidden Words give back the power to creators.
Instagram has a number of tools that help fight the trolling, abuse and harassment almost every creator faces at one point. They’re taking down more accounts. They’re empowering creators to approve comments before they become visible to other users.
But it is Hidden Words (blocking offensive words, emojis and even phrases) that can be most effective because it even screens DMs. Unlike comments, direct messages are private conversations. So, Instagram doesn’t actively look for abuse or hate on them, which is how trolls slip in.
However, when a DM request contains a Hidden Word, the app will automatically filter it, making sure that a creator never has to see or read it.
Earning money? There are more ways to monetize now.
Instagram is broadening direct payments to creators for two reasons. One, it builds a stronger relationship between you and your followers. Two, it’s a sustainable way to earn in the long run.
Badges during Live is a current example. Building on top of it, Instagram now allows extra pay-outs. When a creator crosses a milestone using Badges (like going Live with one more account), they can earn more.
One more monetization tool on the way is a native affiliate program where creators can recommend products to followers and then earn a commission from every sale made. The app also plans to introduce gated content, and subscriptions. They wrote a detailed blog on all the various ways creators can earn, read it here.
Something Zuckerberg stated that really rang a bell with me is the revenue share model. They will not take a cut from the income earned till 2023. And even when they do, it will be less than the 30% that brands like Apple take.
It’s steps like these that spur creators and creator economy and such sensitivity from the biggest platform for content creators augurs well.