How to beat Instagram’s algorithm


For many people, Instagram is more than just an app to share pictures. It has become a growing arena for people of all backgrounds and professions to showcase and ultimately sell themselves, their brand and even their products.

I use Instagram as a business tool to share and advertise my writing, books and brand. I know from experience that it takes hard work, diligence and, yes, a lot of luck. A post has to be made at just the right time and seen and shared by just the right people in order for a person to get the boost they may need.

A successful, even viral, post, can make someone’s career or simply take them to an entirely new level. However, Instagram is making this harder and harder to accomplish.

Most notably, I’m sure everyone noticed when Instagram switched from chronologically arranging timeline posts to an algorithmic method which shows posts from days and even weeks back.

Posts which end up on someone’s timeline are likely either from accounts they interact with often or that have been deemed popular or relevant enough to show to that specific person or demographic.

However, guidelines for what makes a post popular have apparently become more stringent this new year. While details have not been confirmed, it seems as though the amount of engagement a post receives within the first few minutes is a critical factor in whether or not Instagram’s algorithm will pick up the post and show it to more people.

The fewer likes and comments a post receives early on, the less likely it is that particular post will gain any traction later. This is where using the analytical tools or “Insights” offered for business accounts can become very handy.

Knowing what days and times followers are most active can mean the difference between getting 50 likes and 500. While the number of likes isn’t necessarily important, each like means a human being saw the post or product in one way or another. For a business or brand, that is what sustains them – people and exposure.

Another factor that seems to play into the amount of exposure a post gets is not only the interaction from other people, but the interaction of the account owner with the engagement they receive. Someone responding to comments in a timely manner and with more than just a few words or emojis may have a positive effect on engagement.

I think this change (and all of them really) is part of Instagram’s attempt to eradicate bots and eliminate as many false pages as possible. Basically, the more human you prove yourself to be, to higher your chances of being seen.

Hashtags are one way to increase your odds of visibility, but even that is to be handled delicately. Using the same hashtags over and over again can cause your account to be silently shadow-banned–which means your posts no longer show up under the hashtag search.

Some people post all of their hashtags in the comments section of their post, a practice whose validity has recently been called into question. It may be better to post just a few strong hashtags in the actual caption instead of 30 hashtags in the comments.

Last but not least, the Instagram Story is a great way for someone to keep their face on other people’s timelines, even if their posts are not visible. Updating it regularly is never a bad idea.

While Instagram’s changes may be frustrating to some, it can still be a very useful tool if understood and used efficiently. It may take time and lots of trial and error for someone to learn what works best for them, but it is indeed possible to find success!