DISCLAIMER: The Instagram algorithm will soon be non-existent, as Instagram has heard our cries and endless pleas. However, I still thought I’d post it since I have been asked for it.
February and March were tough months for me. Besides the fact that it’s final year and I’m set on graduating cum laude next year, I had my Instagram password changed and could not get into my old account, even after changing my password on numerous occasions. After much consideration, I made the decision to create a new Instagram account, even though I thought I’d go back to 10 likes per post and no comments or engagement. This was not the case.
When I started my new Instagram account, I did not jump right into posting pictures and trying to boost my follower count by following all my Facebook friends (even the people who bullied me throughout high school), no matter how much I wanted to. So instead, I did what a linguistics and research major is supposed to do, I did my homework. For weeks I watched videos on how I could take new Instagram photos, how I could encourage engagement on my feed and most of all, what exactly was I going to do to get my new profile recognized? So there I was, with my laptop and my phone researching how the Instagram algorithm worked and how I could beat it.
Here are some of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way, I hope that until the new update that this will be able to help you in some way. If you would like to know how I edit my Instagram photos then please let me know in the comments.
- Hashtags, Hashtags, Hashtags
To be honest, I used to find hashtags extremely annoying and I hate how it looks in my captions. However, they are still extremely effective in terms of growing your audience and making the most of bulking up those likes. The thing about hashtags is that by using a hashtag, you’re allowing everyone who uses that particular hashtag to find you in searches. The key to using hashtags is that you want to use hashtags that aren’t too popular, to avoid your photos getting lost in a flood of other photos. My best advice is to use hashtags that are within the 100k limit or at least under a million. You can use popular hashtags, but the likeliness of a large group of people liking your photos or following you is going to be very slim. Also, I’ve noticed that posting hashtags in your captions is more effective than posting it in your comment section. Instagram can actually detect a bunch of comments as spam and is more likely to get you shadow banned.
Here is my first Instagram post from my new account sincerelydeeanne. Let me just say that I was so surprised that with about 150 followers at the time, I was able to pull off 100 likes. Hopefully that means that with more growth in followers, it will increase engagement and the likes will grow too.
2. Beware of the Instagram Shadow Ban
Surprisingly, a lot of the people do not know about the Instagram shadow ban. Basically, by using certain hashtags repeatedly or using hashtags that are commonly associated with spam, you could potentially be a victim of the Instagram shadow ban. The shadow ban hides your posts on certain hashtags, which decreases your engagement with others. So if someone who doesn’t follow you searches a hashtag you’ve used and you’ve been shadow banned, they won’t see your post. When you’ve been shadow banned, you are more likely to see less interaction on your feed after posting a photo. To see if you’ve been shadow banned, you can ask a friend to unfollow you and search the hashtag you used to see if they see it or you can use websites. One website I’ve used to check is actually a Shadow Ban Analyzer which searches for your last photo in the hashtags you’ve used to see if you’ve been shadow banned. I’m not sure how accurate this website is but I have noticed that it is down for the time being.
3. Aesthetics & knowing your audience
I’ve always wanted a themed Instagram account. I am crazy about aesthetics and I love when my feed doesn’t look out of place. This does make it harder to post consistently, but it does pay off in the long run because eventually people who are looking at your profile are more likely to follow something that is cohesive and aesthetically pleasing to the eye than an account with hundreds of posts that look rushed and are not good quality. I also recommend knowing what your audience likes. When I started blogging, I had already had an Instagram account and I started posting blog photos to my personal feed. This caused me to lose followers and in turn made growing my account even harder. Then I decided to make a count dedicated to my blog alone, where I do reviews and strictly post products. This allows me to attract different audiences from different spheres. My combined following is about 540 followers which means that I must be doing something right on both pages.
Here is my Instagram feed. I”m currently trying to do a colourful theme but the theme I had before this was dark brown and then when I started Instagram my feed was pink and white. I’m really proud of how my Instagram feed looks and feature a lot of fashion posts and the odd beauty post. I want to get into posting Instagram tutorials soon, as soon as my feed is more put together.
4. Use your Instagram stories to your advantage
I cannot stress this enough but on average, my new account with 294 followers receives almost 100 views. That means 100 people will see what I post on my stories. Letting your followers know that you have a new post up on your feed will allow others who have not seen your post to interact with your content. This puts it out there that there’s a photo they might not have seen yet. Make it known babe, get adding to that story!
5. Don’t buy your followers, but find ways to up your count
I have a love-hate relationship with this aspect of Instagram. In the latest South African issue of Cosmopolitan, it was said that buying your followers will help you get noticed by brands because most PR people do not do their homework and are more interested in massive numbers than genuine engagement. In recent times it’s actually been harder to spot the fakers due to the fact that engagement can also be bought. Likes and followers are so easy to get hold of these days so brands are easily fooled. The problem with a fake Instagram account is that at the end of the day, you’re only fooling yourself. Whether you’re buying likes, views or comments, it only allows some engagement and it’s hard to keep up. It’s not illegal to buy followers, however it does violate Instagram’s terms of service. I’m a student who doesn’t work and I still can’t seem to wrap my head around how people would pay for fake engagement. It is, however, illegal to enter into contractual agreements with a brand in exchange for money, as a company can sue you. I would recommend tagging brands in your photos and even pages similar to your niche so that you might get featured. Paying for features is one thing but there is no guarantee that you’ll get likes and followers. I personally love tagging Clicks South Africa in my blog photos because they always do a weekly round up of the posts they’re tagged in. This also allows me to find similar pages I’d like to follow. Being reposted by brands allows the brand and other users to find your profile. Who knows, if you’re lucky, you might be able to work with a brand or two!
How have you been beating the algorithm? I would love to hear your thoughts.