In case you weren’t clear on Instagram’s new algorithmic emphasis on sends, IG chief Adam Mosseri has once again reiterated that creators should be focusing on how to make their content more shareworthy in his latest advice clip.

As outlined by Mosseri, with more people now engaging within DMs in the app than they are with feed posts, Instagram is now actively seeking to amplify content that prompts more sharing behavior i.e. posts that inspire more users to tap on the “Send” icon and forward it to their friends.

As per Mosseri:

“Don’t force it as a creator, but if you can, when you’re making content, think about making content that people would want to send to a friend, to someone that they care about, and it will help your reach over time.”

Instagram’s also looking to underline this with its new sends display counts in the app, which have been rolling out to more users recently.

Instagram share counts

Instagram’s been testing this with selected users for almost a year, but it seems to have been expanded recently, with more users noting the share counts on posts in the app.

So, sends is clearly what IG wants creators to focus on, but how exactly do you create content that triggers more DM shares?

According to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, which examined social media responses to 65,000 articles on news sites, sparking emotional response with your content is key.

Which likely comes as no surprise, though the specifics here are important. 

As per the report:

Articles with a large number of comments were found to evoke high-arousal emotions, such as anger and happiness, paired with low-dominance emotions where people felt less in control, such as fear. On the other hand, social sharing was very connected to feelings of high dominance, where the reader feels in control, such as inspiration or admiration.”

For context, a “high dominance” emotion is one where the reader is able to regulate their response to a degree, to cognitively make a choice in how they feel, but a “low dominance” response is something out of your control, like fear.  

So, if you want to trigger comments, which has long been a key driver of maximizing algorithmic reach, you want to go for emotionally charged concepts, things that spark strong response, like anger and fear (see: the entire media landscape).

But if you want to drive shares, inspiring, interesting and humorous content is key.

“Positive content is primed for social sharing. Our study found that admiration and happiness have a strong correlation with high dominance. This makes sense since the motivation for sharing upbeat content may be rooted in self-presentation. Passing on a positive emotional experience makes others feel good, which in turn makes the sharer look good. Including an element of surprise can help magnify the content’s positive valence.

If you examine your own sharing behaviors, that probably makes sense, so if you’re looking for a way to hook into the concepts being outlined by Mosseri, this could help.

That also aligns with Meta’s broader shift in focus towards more positive user experiences. Meta’s looking to dilute politics and news content in its apps, in response to negative user feedback, as well as broader political blowback for the company, while on Threads, its Twitter-like experiment, it’s also clearly stated that it wants it to be a more positive user experience.

The overall emphasis here makes sense, and with Reels also becoming a bigger part of the engagement puzzle, it makes sense that Meta’s looking to shift its focus onto more positive elements.

So, if you’re looking to win on IG in 2024, this is how you do it. Creative concepts are never easy, but if you’re looking to align with the advice being provided by the head of Instagram himself, this is the way.  

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