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Mastering the Instagram Algorithm Shuffle: Insider Tips for DTC Brands on Social Media

Worried that the next Instagram algorithm change could send your brand engagement plummeting? You're not alone. In today's digital landscape, depending on social media can be a recipe for disaster. But what if there’s a way to build a thriving brand that transcends the whims of ever-changing algorithms?

Written by

Caroline McQueen ACIM


what's in store

If you’ve checked my social media accounts lately, you’ll know they’re a bit of a ghost town – and let’s be honest, yours might feel the same way. Between the recent Instagram algorithm changes that left everyone scrambling and the constant buzz about potential subscription models (and even a TikTok ban in America), it’s enough to make any brand owner feel like they’re building a sandcastle on the beach during a hurricane. 

Just when you think you’ve got the perfect design, a wave crashes in and washes it all away. But fear not, fellow founder! There’s a way to build a brand that thrives even when the social media landscape shifts beneath your feet.

Empowering DTC Brands Beyond the Algorithm Whirlwind

The good news is that you don’t have to be at the mercy of ever-changing algorithms. At Impulsiv®, we’ve developed The PRICE Framework, a strategic roadmap that empowers DTC brands to build a robust omnichannel marketing strategy independent of social media whims. Think of it as the sturdy foundation for your brand’s castle, which can withstand the algorithmic storms and ensure long-term customer connections. 

The PRICE Framework equips you with the tools to not only Plan your marketing goals meticulously but also Reach your target audience through diverse channels, foster meaningful Interactions that build loyalty, drive successful Conversions, and cultivate lasting Engagement with your customers. Stay tuned as we delve deeper into each stage of The PRICE Framework, and discover how you can break free from the social media panic and build a brand that thrives, no matter the algorithmic weather!

Source: Pexels (@cottonbro)

The Ever-Shifting Sands of Social Media

Remember the good old days when you could post captivating content on Instagram and watch your audience grow organically? Those days might be fading fast. This month, Instagram’s head, Adam Mosseri, announced a “major way” the algorithm will change, leaving many brands and influencers feeling like they’re on a spinning carousel.

Amplifying the Small, Rewarding the Original

One fundamental change involves “Ranking on Recommendations.” Instagram is ditching its focus on established accounts and aiming to shine a light on smaller creators with quality content. This update means the Instagram algorithm won’t just show your post to existing followers. It will first test the waters by showing it to non-followers interested in your niche (think streetwear enthusiasts). If successful, it could then expand to a broader fashion audience. This update is fantastic news for smaller brands, offering a chance to reach a wider audience organically.

But wait, there’s more! Instagram is finally also standing up for originality. Say goodbye to the days of content aggregators simply reposting others’ work and getting all the engagement. Instagram’s “direct replace” feature will prioritise the source, punishing accounts that rely heavily on unremixed content. Content creators rejoice. Large accounts relying on recycled content, beware.

A TikTok-fied Future

The update also hints at a more video-centric future, mirroring the rise of TikTok. Instagram aims to boost organic reach for engaging videos and images, further blurring the lines between the platforms. With the potential ban of TikTok in the US still hanging in the air, this move signifies a significant shift in the social media landscape, leaving brands unsure where to invest their efforts.

A Sea Change for DTC Brands on Instagram

Overall, these changes create a sense of uncertainty for DTC brands that rely heavily on Instagram traffic. The emphasis on smaller accounts and original content presents opportunities and challenges, and its shift towards video adds another layer of complexity.

But fear not, fellow entrepreneurs! While the Instagram landscape may be shifting, there’s a way to build a brand that thrives regardless of the algorithm.

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The PRICE Framework: Your Anchor in the Algorithmic Storm

While the social media landscape may feel like a turbulent ocean these days, fear not, DTC captains! Impulsiv’s PRICE Framework is your sturdy anchor, a strategic roadmap that equips you to navigate the waves of change and build a brand that endures.

PRICE stands for the five crucial stages of a successful digital marketing strategy:

  • Planning: Set clear goals, understand your audience, and craft a customer journey map beyond social media touchpoints.
  • Reach: Expand your reach beyond organic social media by leveraging diverse Channels like email marketing, targeted ads, and influencer partnerships.
  • Interactions: Nurture meaningful connections with your audience through interactive content, loyalty programs, and personalised experiences across all channels.
  • Conversions: Optimising your website and sales funnels to convert interest into loyal customers.
  • Engagement: Building lasting relationships beyond the fleeting nature of social media “likes” through personalised communication and exclusive content offers.

By mastering each stage of The PRICE Framework, you’ll create a robust marketing strategy that’s less susceptible to the whims of social media algorithms. In the coming sections, let’s dive deeper into each stage and discover how you can weather the storm and build a brand that thrives!

The Customer Journey

Planning: Charting Your Course Beyond Social Media Shores

The ever-shifting social media landscape makes a solid marketing plan more crucial than ever. If you haven’t audited your digital marketing strategy lately or have been winging it, then The PRICE Framework starts with Planning. This framework is your captain’s chart, guiding you towards success irrespective of algorithmic storms.

Source: Unsplash (@windows)

Beyond the Algorithm Vortex

Let’s face it: relying solely on social media for brand content is a recipe for disaster. Competition is fierce online, and you need a robust, integrated digital strategy to stay ahead. This means ditching the “hope for the best” approach and setting SMART KPIs (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) that move the needle for your business.

Building a Customer Journey Beyond the Likes

Here at Impulsiv®, we believe in creating a customer journey map that extends far beyond social media touchpoints. Your marketing plan should be laser-focused on well-defined goals aligned with your business priorities, not chasing fleeting social media trends. Ask yourself:

  • What are your overarching business objectives?
  • Who are your ideal customers, and what drives their buying decisions?
  • How can you create a seamless online experience that guides them towards purchase?

Defining Your Online Value Proposition (OVP)

A strong OVP is your secret weapon. Think of it as the essence of your brand experience, distilled into a clear message that resonates with your target audience. How will your website content and experience empower them throughout their shopping journey?

Optimising Your Digital Ship

Your website is your digital flagship. Conducting a thorough audit can reveal areas for improvement. Here are some key questions to ask:

  • Does your website communicate your brand story and OVP?
  • Are “lead magnets” like email signup forms strategically placed to capture leads?
  • Are there clear calls to action (CTAs) that guide visitors towards your desired outcomes?
  • Does your blog integrate seamlessly to encourage brand exploration?
  • Are you leveraging the right technology to optimise website performance?

Addressing these questions during the Planning stage will lay the foundation for a digital strategy that transcends the limitations of social media algorithms. The next section will delve into the Reach stage, exploring diverse channels to expand your brand’s influence.

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Reach: Expanding Your Horizons Beyond the Instagram Algorithm

Simply “posting” on social media isn’t enough in a world saturated with content. The Reach stage of The PRICE Framework equips you with tools to expand your brand’s presence and attract new customers through diverse channels.

Broadening Your Funnel – It’s Not Just About Likes:

Focusing solely on existing customers ignores the inevitable churn and limits growth potential. Digital marketing offers fantastic opportunities to reach customers who are actively seeking products and recommendations. However, competition is fierce, with fledgling brands vying for attention in the same crowded spaces. A focused budget and plan are crucial for reaching your target audience in the right places.

Analysing Your Digital Arsenal

Before venturing further, it’s wise to assess your current strategy. If you’re using Google Analytics, delve into the data to see which channels perform best. Remember, untagged social media and email marketing traffic might appear under “Direct.”

Example: Google Analytics Graph

SEO: Your Gateway to High-Volume Audiences

Investing in search engine optimisation (SEO) can deliver a significant return on investment. When potential customers seek product information or reviews, having a well-optimized website positions you for discovery. Remember, optimisation is an ongoing process, but the devil’s in the details, and those details can make a world of difference.

Owned and Earned Media: Building Your Influence

Owned media—the content you control (blogs, emails, social media pages)—is a powerful tool. Craft compelling content that resonates with your target audience and establishes you as a thought leader in your niche.

Earned media, on the other hand, involves leveraging the influence of others. Develop relationships with micro-influencers who have engaged communities aligned with your brand. Their positive word-of-mouth can significantly increase your reach.


Paid Media: A Strategic Boost

While over-reliance on paid media isn’t ideal, strategically incorporating it can be highly effective. Here are some options to consider:

  • Search engine advertising: Leverage Google Ads (Brand, Non-brand, Display Network, and Remarketing) to target relevant searches.
  • Social media advertising: Use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest to reach specific demographics with laser-focused precision.
  • Programmatic advertising: Use programmatic platforms to retarget and acquire new customers via lookalike audiences.
  • Affiliate marketing: Partner with other websites to promote your products through commission-based arrangements.
  • Direct media buys: Negotiate ad placements or sponsored features with relevant publishers or email lists.

Planning Your Omnichannel Conquest

An acquisition plan and budget are critical for omnichannel marketing. Track your investments across different media, analysing their effectiveness and return on investment (ROI).

By mastering the Reach stage, you’ll attract new customers while breaking free from the limitations of a single social media platform. In the next section, we’ll explore the Interactions stage, where we’ll delve into strategies for fostering meaningful connections with your audience.

Interactions: Building Bridges Beyond Clicks

In today’s digital landscape, simply capturing attention isn’t enough. The Interactions stage of the PRICE framework focuses on fostering brand loyalty and nurturing meaningful connections with your audience. This stage is where you transform fleeting clicks into lasting customer relationships.

Why Interactions Matter

Let’s be honest: online audiences are easily distracted. They can vanish with a single click, absorbed by the endless content stream. People are just a click away from a competitor, so you need to be worth finding. However, the Interactions stage ensures you’re not just “findable” but also engaging and memorable

Crafting Compelling Customer Journeys

Optimising landing pages with clear messaging and user-friendly navigation is crucial. Combine best practices with data-driven insights from analytics to refine your customer journeys. A/B testing different elements (copy, visuals, CTAs) can help identify the most effective approach.

Lead Capture and Audience Profiling: Building Your Knowledge Base

Lead capture is essential for building relationships. Streamline your forms and offer value in exchange for contact information. Audience profiling allows you to personalise your outreach, tailoring content and offers to resonate with individual needs. Check out our previous article, “Build Buzz with an Omnichannel Strategy“, for a deep dive into this topic.

Content Marketing: The Heart of Engagement:

A well-defined content marketing strategy is your secret weapon to conquering the Instagram algorithm. By delivering high-quality content that educates, inspires, and entertains throughout the customer journey, you establish trust and brand loyalty. Remember, content marketing is the lifeblood of omnichannel marketing, impacting everything from customer journeys to media distribution strategies (organic search, paid ads, social media, and email automation).

Here are some ideas to spark engagement:

  • Interactive content: Host polls, quizzes, or contests to encourage participation.
  • Loyalty programs: Reward repeat customers and incentivise them to return.
  • Personalised experiences: Leverage customer data to tailor email marketing campaigns, product recommendations, and website experiences.

By implementing these strategies during the Interactions stage, you’ll cultivate an engaged audience that feels connected to your brand. In the next section, we’ll explore the Conversions stage, where we’ll discuss how to optimise your sales funnel and convert interest into loyal customers.

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Conversions: Turning Interest into Action

The Conversions stage of the PRICE framework focuses on the crucial moment when interest translates into sales. This is where you refine your sales funnel, ensuring a smooth and compelling journey towards purchase, regardless of the channel (online or offline).

From Interactions to Conversions: Nurturing Leads and Retargeting

It’s a common scenario – potential customers visit your website but don’t convert immediately. Now’s the time to nurture those relationships and drive conversions. Retargeting is a powerful tool for reconnecting with website visitors or email subscribers who haven’t yet purchased. Leverage online ads, automated email sequences, or SMS reminders to nudge them back towards your brand gently, ultimately encouraging that final purchase.

Understanding the typical ecommerce customer lifecycle is crucial. Here’s a quick visual to help you map out the customer’s journey, identifying ideal touchpoints for personalised messages that nurture purchase intent.

Essential Communications

Web Personalization: The Power of Tailored Experiences

Today’s consumers crave personalisation. By utilising customer data strategically, you can tailor product recommendations, content, and offers on your website, creating a more engaging and, ultimately, more profitable experience. Web personalisation can unlock many benefits, including boosting your bottom line. In fact, a whopping 70% of consumers spend more with companies that deliver fluid, personalised, and seamless customer experiences. This approach fosters deeper connections, increasing conversion rates, higher average order values, and a more positive customer experience.

Optimising for Mobile: A Must-Have in Today’s World:

With nearly 60% of online shoppers using mobile devices, neglecting mobile optimisation can be a costly oversight. A mobile-friendly website is no longer a luxury; it’s an essential element for any DTC brand. Here are some key considerations to ensure your website offers a seamless mobile experience that fosters conversions:

  • Fast Loading Speeds: Mobile users are impatient. Studies by Google show that a one-second delay in mobile load times can lead to a 7% conversion rate drop. Ensure your website is optimised for speed by compressing images, minimising HTTP requests, and utilising a reliable web hosting provider.
  • Responsive Design: Your website should adapt seamlessly to different screen sizes and devices. A responsive design ensures that your content remains legible and easy to navigate, regardless of whether it’s viewed on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer.
  • Simplified Navigation: Complex menus and navigation systems can be frustrating on a small screen. Opt for clear and concise menus that are easy to tap and navigate with a finger.

Focus on Thumb-Friendly Interactions: Since most mobile users interact with their devices using their thumbs, prioritise elements that are easy to tap and interact with. Increase the size of buttons and ensure they are spaced far enough apart to avoid accidental clicks.

Refer to our previous article, “7 Signs Your Mobile Site Needs a Style Upgrade.” to ensure your website offers a seamless mobile experience that fosters conversions.

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The Power of Multichannel Selling

Don’t underestimate the significance of offline interactions. Direct contact with your employees can significantly improve conversion rates. Consider offering live chat options or in-store promotions to bridge the gap between online browsing and real-world purchases.

Building a Culture of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

A structured CRO program is an ongoing necessity. Implement a “test-learn-refine” approach across the best practices mentioned above. Utilise A/B testing to identify the most effective strategies for your audience. Remember, not every test will yield positive results, but a sustained CRO program can significantly boost conversions over time. We delve deeper into this topic in our article “Is it time to give your online store a makeover?”.

By mastering the Conversions stage, you’ll equip your brand to convert website visitors into enthusiastic customers seamlessly. In the next and final section, we’ll explore Engagement, the stage where we’ll discuss nurturing long-term customer relationships that transcend fleeting social media trends.

Engagement: Building Customers for Life

While social media engagement metrics can be alluring, the Engagement stage of the PRICE framework focuses on the bigger picture: building enduring customer relationships that extend far beyond fleeting online trends and the Instagram algorithm. Here, we’ll explore strategies to cultivate a loyal customer base that drives long-term success.

Beyond the Buzz: The Value of Long-Term Engagement

Digital marketing often gets fixated on short-term wins, like the fleeting popularity of a viral post. However, it’s the customers who stay with you over time that truly matter. Thrilled customers are the backbone of social proof and referrals, the cornerstones of successful social media marketing. But success at this stage goes deeper than follower counts or “likes.” The key metrics to focus on are:

  • Repeat purchases (lifetime value): How much revenue does a customer generate over time?
  • Customer satisfaction: How happy are your customers with your products and services?
  • Loyalty: Do customers keep coming back for more?
  • Advocacy: Do your customers actively recommend your brand to others?

While metrics like repeat purchases and customer satisfaction may be less flashy than follower counts and likes, they hold far greater significance for your brand’s health in the face of the ever-changing Instagram algorithm.

Building a Strong Foundation: Customer Onboarding and Growth

A well-structured customer onboarding process sets the stage for long-term engagement. Think of it as the welcome sequence for new customers but with a focus on building brand preference. Here are some key strategies:

  • Personalised welcome emails: Craft personalised messages that introduce your brand, highlight product benefits, and encourage engagement.
  • Gather feedback: Ask for reviews and ratings to understand customer sentiment and identify areas for improvement.
  • Nurture relationships: Offer valuable content and promotions to incentivise repeat purchases.

Customer Service and Success: The Power of Human Connection

In today’s competitive landscape, exceptional customer service is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity. Positive customer experiences foster loyalty and advocacy, leading to upsells, repeat purchases, and referrals – all factors that boast a higher ROI than acquiring new customers. Here’s how to prioritise customer service:

  • Invest in knowledgeable support staff: Equip your team with the tools and training they need to resolve customer inquiries efficiently and empathetically.
  • Create high-quality support content: Develop a comprehensive FAQ section and self-service resources to empower customers to find solutions independently.
  • Respond promptly and professionally: Address customer concerns quickly and with a focus on resolution.

The Power of Email Marketing: Staying Connected Throughout the Journey

Email marketing is a powerful tool for nurturing customer relationships across the entire lifecycle. Regularly sending personalised emails with relevant content, exclusive offers, and loyalty program updates keeps your brand at the forefront of your customers’ minds. However, email marketing effectiveness hinges on several factors. Consider conducting a separate email marketing audit to optimise your approach.

Social Media Marketing: A Strategic Tool, Not a Numbers Game

Similar to email marketing, social media plays a crucial role in customer engagement throughout The PRICE Framework. However, focusing solely on follower counts and fleeting trends misses the mark. We recommend a dedicated social media strategy audit to ensure your social media presence aligns with your broader business goals, not the whims of the platforms themselves.

By prioritising strategies in the Engagement stage, you’ll cultivate a loyal customer base that transcends social media “likes” and translates into long-term success for your DTC brand.

Social Fluctuations? No Sweat!

In the ever-evolving world of social media, where the Instagram algorithm can shift like desert sands, relying solely on these platforms is a recipe for instability. Diversifying your marketing efforts creates a robust foundation, ensuring your brand reaches its target audience even when social media algorithms change direction.

The PRICE Framework empowers you to build this strong foundation. By following its stages—planning, Reach, Interactions, Conversions, and Engagement—you’ll develop a comprehensive strategy that fosters brand loyalty, optimises conversions, and cultivates lasting customer relationships, all independent of social media’s fickleness. The framework equips you to weather any algorithmic storm and build a brand that thrives in the long run.

Don’t let the Instagram algorithm dictate your brand’s fate! Schedule a free consultation with Impulsiv today and discover how The PRICE Framework can help you build a sustainable and adaptable marketing strategy that thrives, regardless of the algorithmic tides.

And hey, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter for more insights and trends.

Meet the author
Caroline McQueen ACIM
I help ambitious founders launch and scale unforgettable brands that effortlessly attract customers around the web and offline — without blowing the budget on social ads (Zuck that!) Off the clock, I enjoy Netflix marathons, French lessons, and exploring my local farmer’s market for culinary adventures.
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