With Instagram’s ever-changing algorithms and increased presence of business accounts and paid advertising, rumors have been floating around begging the question- does having an Instagram business account hurt reach & engagement compared to a personal account?
The popularity of Instagram business accounts has spiked in the last few years because having access to analytics is a great resource for businesses to track their organic and paid success of their social media content. Similarly, being able to launch advertisements over Instagram is always an added plus to any social media marketing plan.
How could a business account hurt reach and engagement?
Instagram introduced changes to the reverse-chronological order of user’s feeds in 2016 and changed the algorithm so photos that are deemed relevant or more interesting to the user would appear at the top.
The change was widely interpreted as harmful to business accounts because it made so the relationship between the poster and follower would be taken highly into account, sending photos posted by friends and family from personal accounts to the top of user’s feed. Accordingly, the organic reach of Instagram business profiles took a hit, and in turn caused impressions, engagement, and conversions to allegedly decrease. If a business’ posts do not appear in front of users, and at the top of a user’s feed, then naturally they are less likely to engage, therefore creating overall unsuccessful content for businesses on social media. The hurt in engagement and reach that Instagram business accounts can see from this change has caused many businesses to stay as the default, “personal” account, instead of switching and using the platform for advertisements and analytics.
Is there proof?
Earlier this year, Instagram released a statement clarifying that there was no difference in the feed presence of personal or business profiles, so changing between the two would have zero effect on reach. However, users are still insisting that this is not the case.
A study conducted on this topic specifically showed that engagement is higher for personal profiles that business profiles, but it relies heavily on the number of followers. In the study, a combination of 274 business and personal Instagram profiles were analyzed. The results showed that engagement for personal profiles was about 1% higher than for business profiles. What was interesting in this particular study was it seemed to only affect business accounts with more than 10,000 followers.
This arises because in the case of business profiles, as the number of followers increases, the content on the business profile is showed to fewer people, leading to lower reach and a further decrease in engagement. Another aspect to consider is the importance of paid advertising on social networks such as Facebook and Instagram. Facebook owns Instagram and their platform moved towards a structure which reduced organic reach and required business accounts to pay for advertising in order to ensure business page followers saw posts.
If you haven’t noticed already, advertisements on Instagram have become increasingly prominent, creating a more “pay to play” platform. The ability to promote photos and post paid advertisements on Instagram is a benefit that is only available to business accounts and becoming a necessary part of businesses’ Instagram marketing strategy.
What can a business do to offset this?
An important aspect to analyze when looking at business accounts hurting engagement on Instagram is as your following increases, naturally, your engagement will decrease. This happens for many reasons, but one is because sometimes when a user comes across a post with a lot of engagement, or an account with a lot of followers, they do not feel as compelled to interact. The Instagram algorithm in place relies heavily on users’ interaction with posts and accounts in order to determine the level of interest and relationship. This is more likely to favor personal accounts rather than business accounts. Brands using business profiles, therefore, need to be posting content that encourages followers to like and comment, otherwise, followers will become less likely to see future posts.
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