Like many of you, I have been personally victimized by Instagram, or should I say the Instagram Algorithm.
Over the last year, I’ve noticed a significant drop in my impressions, engagement, and number of new followers. The reason: Instagram’s 2020 Algorithm. Thanks to the last few updates, only 10% of your followers are able to see your post.
Whenever the algorithm updated and engagement tanked, my first thought would be, “Why would Instagram hurt themselves by ruining this experience for so many users?” or “This is it for Instagram. Time to find another app”. However, I decided to research and understand the reasons behind the changes. Here’s what I discovered:
Instagram’s goal is to monetize!
Now you might think this is obvious or wonder how changing the algorithm does this, so let me explain. Instagram is a business and must make money, so how do they make money? By remaining one of the most important forms of social media. And how do they do so? By keeping users on their app as long as possible. How do they keep their users on Instagram? They don’t! We do! Because of this, Instagram favors accounts who can keep their followers as active and engaged as possible!
Below are the easiest ways to keep your audience engaged:
- Post Photos / Videos
- Post Stories
- Instagram Lives
- Reply to your DMs
- Reply to Comments
Odds are you’re already doing most of these, which is really great! The real question is: how often are you doing these?
Fact: The more time you spend on the app keeping your followers engaged, the more Instagram will favor you. This means you should do a majority of these items listed above each and every day. Post your photos, videos, and stories daily, go live every day even if just for 2 minutes, answer your DM’s as soon as possible, and reply to comments on your latest posts immediately.
If you aren’t doing these things daily, you will not see growth and will continue to feel the oppression of the 2020 Algorithm.
Now that you understand the logic behind Instagram and what they expect from you as a user, let’s dive into the specific tactics you can use to grow your Instagram under the new algorithm.
- When you post, engage/comment back within the first 60 minutes to help drive engagement. Not only will your followers appreciate it but Instagram will boost your post and show it to more of your followers!
- Do not edit your post’s caption or location tag for 24 hours! I’m not entirely sure why but doing such will significantly lower your chances for it to be seen.
- Do not delete your post and repost it. Same reason as above. I’ve done this before and my reposted photo tanked.
- Although you can use up to 30 hashtags in a post, this can now be picked up as spam. If Instagram thinks you are spamming, they will keep your reach low. It’s been up in the air for a while about what the sweet spot with hashtags is, but people say that they seem to have better luck with about five unique hashtags. – Still unsure about this rule but test it out for yourself and see how it works.
- Do not use the same hashtags over and over again! Switch these up, or else it’ll look like you’re a bot, which means spam, which means lower reach.
- Post your hashtags in the comments vs. in the caption. I don’t think it honestly matters. I’ve tried both and sometimes my reach is great, and sometimes it sucks. My advice is to try it out for yourself and see how it works for you. I think posting hashtags in the comments look like spam, so I tend to stay away from doing that.
- Post more to gain more followers. I know this may seem like a risky option. If Instagram is only showing your content to 10% of your followers, then you’ll risk having lower engagement on posts you’ve worked hard on creating. But here’s why you should post more. When you post more, you will reach a higher percentage of people daily. For example, if I share two times a day, then I will reach about 20% of my followers instead of 10%. When more people can see your posts, the more your followers will engage. When your followers engage and use the app, Instagram takes notice and will share your account with other accounts, so your chances of gaining new followers increases.
- Post less for better engagement. I know I just said to post more. But from my experience when I post less, the reach of my overall post is higher. The reason being that your post has time to circulate. Because of the algorithm, our feeds are no longer in chronological order but catered to what Instagram thinks we want to see. When people follow you, Instagram knowns they would like to view your content. So even if Instagram doesn’t show your posts to a majority of your followers at first, it may get picked up by the algorithm and end up on your followers’ feeds later on. So try waiting a day or two before posting again.
- Geotag popular destinations. The sad truth is that Instagram will show your post to more followers if you geotag a popular destination. Some of these include Santorini, Venice, Barcelona, and Paris; essentially, any location that attracts many tourists or is trending. So if you’re reading this blog post because you want to gain more followers and have better engagement, one simple solution would be to visit and create content in super popular destinations. Some Instagrammers have done this with great success. Personally, I travel to places for other reasons than growing my IG.
Sidenote: I wouldn’t recommend tagging a photo in Santorini that isn’t Santorini. Instagram has recognition software, so I doubt you can fool them.
Other ways you can get on Instagram’s good side is by utilizing new features like story highlights, polls, music, quizzes, chats, and following hashtags.
Now here’s why the Algorithm is actually a good thing:
- Since your post will only be reaching a fraction of your followers, it’s more important than ever to give your audience a reason to follow along. Now influencers will have to create and share only the best content, as well as become more available to their audiences.
- It’s time to get personal and focus more on creating a sense of community! Say goodbye to the silent influencer, and hello to your new, interactive friend. If you want to have engaged followers and grow a community, then you have to try to develop a real relationship. For example, when someone leaves in-depth comments about your post, try to respond with a question. By doing so, you may learn more about them and increase overall engagement. If someone DMs you, be kind and send a genuine response. Just be real people!
Basically, the new Instagram Algorithm encourages (and forcing others) to be more authentic and personal. So don’t worry so much about the numbers and start focusing on building relationships with your followers.
Hang tight everyone! Don’t lose hope. Just remember, “where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.” – Machiavelli