You might have noticed things have changed on Instagram again lately and it’s becoming harder and harder to get your posts seen by new audiences.
So what’s new? Well Instagram has rolled out a new algorithm; remember when things changed from chronological to the weird all over the place time line we have now, yeah it’s like that but this time it’s all focused on engagement.
I’ve seen a lot of posts on my feed asking if the photo is being seen? Asking for people to like or leave a comment if they can actually see the photo because the account holder has noticed a dramatic reduction on who is seeing their posts and this, my friends, is the new algorithm at work.
All is not lost though, there are some pretty simple steps you can take to help improve things and get your hard work noticed by those you’re trying to attract.
It’s all about engagement at the moment, and by this I don’t just mean how many likes or followers you have, that’s not actually the most important thing anymore. Engagement is just that, how many people are engaging with you, how many people are commenting on your posts, how many of those comments do you respond to and how quickly, how many DMs do you receive and respond to.
It’s not just about activity on your own posts either, in order to have good engagement you must also take time to like, comment and message other people about their content. It’s a great way to reach out, gain new followers and get yourself noticed by the algorithm bots.
What to do: Before you post your next photo, spent 10 minutes scrolling your feed or the discovery page and like, comment and respond to posts by other people. Reply to any comments you haven’t gotten to yet and make sure your DMs are clear. Then you post your photo; not only will this put you in good favour with the algorithm and show you to be an actively engaged account but the accounts you left comments on may visit your page and they will see your brand spanking new post that you just shared and hopefully will be more inclined to show you some love in return.
Timing is so important when you post your content, knowing when your followers or desired followers are online is key. For example, if you’re a food lover, chances are you see an increase of photos at meals times, this would be a good time to post as it’s when most other food lovers are online sharing their own photos.
As a parenting blogger sometimes things can seem a little easier because parenting is 24/7 and there’s always someone around but I know from my account stats that between 6-9pm is the peak time for my followers and this make sense, work is done, kids are in bed (hopefully) and you have 5 mins peace to scroll Instagram and check in on your favourite accounts.
What to do: If you have a business account things are much easier because the account stats will show you exactly what time of day if best for you but if you don’t have your account set up this way you can try monitoring things over a couple of days. Post at different times and see what gets the best results and this should give you an idea of when people are online. Also consider the location of your audience, my account stats tell me that 75% of my followers are in the UK. Chances are a post shared at 3am isn’t going to reach many of them who are (hopefully again) asleep. If I wanted to reach followers from across the pond however, 3am is probably a great time to post as those in the US and Canada start to wake up and go online.
Instagram stories have become such a big deal it’s unreal. I’m probably the last person in the world to get on board with them, mainly because I found them a bit intimidating and I still do if I’m honest but I’m forcing myself to use it everyday because it’s such a great tool to get yourself noticed.
Not only does sharing to stories allow you to share things that would otherwise clog up your feed or are perhaps things you don’t want to be on show permanently but they also keep you at the front page of your follower’s feed. Every time you upload a new story you move back to the front of the line at the top of your followers feed and this will encourage them to click and watch and hopefully start engaging with you.
What to do: This one is pretty simple, use Instagram stories. If you’re not keen or confident to talk on there and record videos which I’m not then try posting photos, edit and annotate them using the effects on the app. Some ideas of the things I like to post are; food pics, videos of my daughter playing, outtakes from attempts to take cute photos of my daughter, places I visit, links to things online that I’m loving like clothes or home ware. Just try to find something each day that you can share on your stories to keep your account at the top of your followers feed.
You either love them or you hate them but there is no getting away from the fact that they work when they’re used well. It’s also no secret that hashtags have been and still are widely abused and have become very spammy (that’s not a word but I’m making it one) and so Instagram is cracking down.
Have you heard of the term shadow banning? No, not to worry I hadn’t either but I’ve done some research and shadow banning is a practice undertaken by Instagram whereby your photos with an overused or unrelated hashtag will only appear in the hashtag search for your followers but not for anyone new.
Have I lost you? So, let’s break this down. You know you can search hashtags and find other photos that also use the same hashtag, that’s the point right. But what if you’re using the same hashtag for every photo regardless of whether it’s actually relevant to the photo or caption? That’s where you’re now going to run into trouble as you might get shadow banned and your photo will appear in the hashtag search only to those who already follow your account. Any one new, will never see the post within that hashtag category and this will lead to dramatically reduced engagement on your photo.
What to do: chances are you haven’t been shadow banned by Instagram and you can make sure your not affected by changing up your hashtags and making sure they’re relevant to your photo. Try not to use overly saturated and spammy (that word again) tags like #instagram or #love as these have literally millions of photos tagged and the chances of yours being seen and slim to none. Instead try using a more specific tag that has between 50-100k photos associated with it. This gives you more chance of being noticed by the specific audience you’re trying to reach.
There’s no easy way around Instagram any more, it’s moved on from the days when you just posted a photo and carried on with your day. It’s become a business tool, a place of art and curation. I saw the above post the other day by @ourtinydiaries and it really rang true to me with just how much Instagram has changed.
If you want to get anything out of Instagram these days you’re going to have to be prepared to put some work in, to engage with existing and new followers and take time to consider, what you post, when you post and how you hashtag it.
I’m still learning as I go along too and my account is by no means where I would like it to be but I keep working on it. I like to think I am engaged with my followers and try my very best to follow my own advice. I hope you have found this helpful, please leave below any other tips and tricks you have found to help grow your Instagram account.