Tips: How to Beat Instagram’s New Algorithm
Let’s hear a collective Internet sigh for all the users affected by Instagram’s new algorithm.
We should have seen it coming, what with Facebook’s myriad anti-business algorithms that it has been unveiling over the past few years. (In many ways, I did see it coming — was even warned by an Instagram insider that pretty soon, “promoted” posts were going to be a thing for businesses.) But even so, I wasn’t prepared and I’m sure neither were you in recent weeks when Instagram completely changed things up on us.
Across the social media board, likes, reach, and engagement have gone down. Users are experiencing dramatic losses in followers and serious decreases in engagement (both comments and likes). This drastic business-plan change has caused me — and I’m sure many of you, too — to resort to Google searches such as, “Why does Instagram suck lately?” and “How come my Instagram pictures aren’t getting likes?”
So what exactly happened in the beloved Insta-sphere and what can we do to beat IG’s new algorithm?
(Photo Credit: Ben White)
What initiated this Instagram change?
Instagram unrolled two changes, one of them more top-secret than the other in April 2016. The first was altering the IG icon from the standard brown and white camera to a white camera outline, filled with rainbow gradient. While people were busy freaking out about the external, what was actually going on internally was much more concerning: Instagram altered its timeline from chronological order to an algorithm that gauged posts’ importance from what users liked and engaged with. In a nutshell, this meant that it was much easier for posts to get buried; in order for a user to even see a post, they have to engage often and well with the brand.
What does this mean now in 2017?
The initial 2016 timeline change was the first of many important algorithm modifications that transformed the user experience on the app. Now, with the installment of more features like Instagram Live, multiple images and video posts, Story Ads, Stories, streamlined disappearing messages, and Shoppable, more and more users (specifically, bloggers and businesses) have noticed a huge downtrend in engagement and new followers.
How can you beat Instagram’s new algorithm?
There are several things you can do to beat Instagram’s new algorithm. Keep in mind that the whole point of the algorithm change was to crack down on robots and bottomless accounts that are taking up space. Think of this way: You constantly need to prove to Instagram that you’re a real person, otherwise your activity on the app will be penalized.
Follow people that you’re likely to engage with. Seriously. I know you want to give Aunt Kathy a pity follow but IG looks at your ratio — number of followers to followers you actually engage with on a regular basis.
Only post good comments. Yes, there are good comments and bad comments. You need to know the difference. I’m not talking about positive and negative commentary either. Bad comments are streams of emojis and generic “yay” and “omg cute” comments. Why? Because bots do this, too. Have you ever seen a brand comment on your selfie “love it” with a fire emoji? Yeah, Instagram has noticed that, too. Steer clear of leaving these comments and direct your friends to do the same for you. (We’re all in this together, after all.) Good comments are more than four words — even full sentences — and have actual merit or a reason.
For example —
Good comment: This outfit looks so good on you!
Good comment: I definitely want to try this book. Thanks for the recommendation!
Bad comment: OMG love
Bad comment: 😍😍😍😍
Additionally, comments that tag the poster of the photo score bonus points in Instagram’s eyes and boost a post’s likelihood for being seen.
Join an Instagram pod. Likely, you’ve heard the term “Instagram pods” recently. It’s because tons of bloggers are working together to fight back against Instagram’s recent revisions. According to Mashable, influencers add each other to “pods” — AKA IG messages with a maximum of 15 plus users. Each time a member of the pod posts a new photo, it’s expected that everyone in that pod returns the favor and engages with it — liking it and leaving valuable four word or more comments with insight directly related to the image. Basically, they scratch your back, you scratch theirs.
Engage in all of Instagram’s features. Instagram reads three different platforms for its overall engagement: regular posts, Instagram Live, and Stories. In order to be successful in the app, you need to be engaging in all three of these features.
How often should I be posting?
In order to accrue more followers and experience a spike in engagement, post a regular Instagram picture (or multiples) at least once per day. Update your Instagram Story each day, ideally with several slides. The last component is videos. Upload a video post occasionally. If you post in this fashion, Instagram reads your activity in the optimum way aligned with its algorithm and it will reward you for it.
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram! Follow me HERE. 😉