We all remember the beauty of the chronological Instagram feed, but the saying “good things don’t last forever” definitely rings true in the story of Instagram’s algorithm changes. Over the past year, Instagram has implemented a series of tweaks that have shifted the landscape of one of our favorite social platforms. Slowly but surely, we all started to feel the effects of these algorithm changes.
At the end of 2017, articles started popping up all over the internet expressing concerns about the newest algorithm changes as well as offering tips on how to beat the algorithm. Unfortunately, since no one actually knows what’s going on in the mega mind of Instagram, we can’t say whether or not 30 hashtags is still the rule of thumb. We’re just not sure and we don’t want to succumb to false rumors, so we’re sorry for the let down if you thought this article was going to share the magic recipe for the perfect Instagram post. However, what we can share with you are some of our best practices when it comes to Instagram. These steps will help you find success with Instagram, no matter what algorithm changes come your way!
photo by Gumilang Rafsanjani
Authentic Engagement > Spam
Bot comments are kind of the running joke on Instagram. You post a photo of your dog and you get a bot comment that reads “you’re such a beautiful human!”
And guess what? Instagram hates bots just as much as everyone else. Fake, spammy comments create a bad user experience, and user experience is definitely the number one priority for the team at Instagram. Last year, we saw the rise of shadow banning. Instagram made efforts to penalize accounts for a variety of spammy activities. A list of what Instagram considers spammy does not exist, but bot comments definitely fall under this umbrella. While these fake comments are harder to find, Instagram is getting smarter at finding accounts that use bots to comment.
You can also get in trouble for liking too much on Instagram, which usually happens when you have a bot set to like 1,000 posts every minute or something crazy like that.
Bottom line: Set good limits with bots if you feel like you really need them and never ever use bots to comment. It’s just not worth the risk. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of bots, but I’ve seen them work for others so you just have to find what works best for you!
photo by Priyanca Rao Photography
Consistency is Key
If you don’t post to your Instagram regularly, you’ve probably seen your engagement drop over time or you might have observed little spikes of new followers everytime you post, followed by big drops in followers a week later.
If you’re not posting consistently, Instagram isn’t taking you seriously.
If you’re not posting consistently, your followers aren’t taking you seriously.
Engagement is Everything
I read a great analogy the other day about how in real life when you’re having a conversation, it’s really rude to not respond when someone says something nice to you or asks a question yet, people do it all the time in Instagram land. When you don’t reply to comments on your Instagram posts, you’re decreasing your own engagement versus boosting it. Engage with your followers! Say thank you to people who compliment you and answer others questions. Treat your post engagement like a real-life conversation. While we’re not sure how effective this approach is at getting you likes and followers, we do know that Instagram values engagement, so we feel pretty confident in recommending this step!
You might have heard rumors about commenting with at least five words or more, but this just hasn’t been proven. I haven’t seen any data that shows a strong correlation when more than four words are used versus less than four words. However, I do think that there is truth in the value of writing more on Instagram. Think about it. Bots are set to comment only a few words, such as “Love it” and “You rock!” The more meaningful and authentic your communication on Instagram, the more credible your account will appear.
Along with engaging on your own posts, you should definitely spend time engaging with accounts that you follow. Start conversations. Let Instagram know that you are a credible account who values meaningful interactions on their platform.
Bottom line: being thoughtfully engaged on Instagram gives you credibility.
photo by Kim Jay Photography
Stories Are Where It’s At
Did you know that more people use Instagram stories than Snapchat?? Wowza.
Instagram is doing everything they can to push users to engage with stories, which means you need to be using your story more! Have you noticed as you’re scrolling your Instagram feed that there’s a new section that highlights recent stories? Aha! Stories also appear on the explore page now. You can also use hashtags in your stories so that your stories are discoverable. Double aha!
One more reason that we’re recommending that you start using stories is that stories offer just one more way to engage with your followers and for your followers to engage back. And you already know that engagement is everything when it comes to Instagram.
photo by Heirlume Photography
One more thing to note if you’re still feeling wary about all of Instagram’s changes: I think Instagram is here to stay. The 800 million active Instagram users won’t be leaving the platform anytime soon, which means you shouldn’t either. The average Instagram user could care less whether or not their feed is in chronological order because they’re not hurt by this change. Remember, while Instagram’s algorithms might be affecting your professional account negatively, this same algorithm is working to draw in more users and keep them engaged on the platform. My general advice is to stay up-to-date on what’s happening with Instagram and stick with what works: consistency (consistently posting to your feed and story), engagement (commenting and responding on your own posts as well as on others), and authenticity (being real and taking the time to connect with people).
Check out our latest Instagrammers to Follow to learn more about what’s working for others on Instagram.