The Instagram algorithm can be frustrating; there’s no doubt about it. It seems like the algorithm changes just when I think I’ve got it figured out. So I’ve spent the last six months researching and putting my own Instagram account to the algorithm test. I’m happy to report that I think I’ve got it figured out!
My Instagram Story (spoiler alert: I beat the instagram algorithm)
For the first couple years I was on Instagram, my account was growing without any real effort at all…and then the first big algorithm change hit and everyone was devastated from it including me. For the next couple of years, I was losing followers instead of gaining and my posts would get little to no engagement.
So at the beginning of 2019, I decided to do some research and really work hard on changing my account. Besides my personal photography growth (which I’m sure helped aide in my success) playing the algorithm game has changed my Instagram from 30,000 followers and very little engagement to 48,900 followers and tons of engagement in just six months!
How did you grow your Instagram? It’s a question I get asked all the time and the truth is: there’s no single answer to pin point or big secret to share. Unless you go viral, there’s going to be a lot work involved to grow your account and keep your engagement up.
“Instagram is personalized to you and will evolve over time based on how you use Instagram” – Instagram
The Important Things You Should Be Doing Consistently
#1 Building Relationships
Building relationships with your peers and your followers is so important. Instagram prioritizes high engagement and restricts exposure based on your relationships with other accounts. So building real relationships, reaching out to similar accounts, commenting, liking and supporting each other’s posts will expand your own post exposure.
Engaging with every comment on a post can be tedious especially if you have high engagement already but liking and responding to all comments and DM’s (yes, DM’s) in a timely manner is crucial. You want to create conversations and in return your posts will start to appear at the top of your engager’s feeds.
#2 Spending Time on the Instagram App
I hate to admit this but I spend an hour or two on Instagram a day and guess what? Instagram actually measures this and helps to “personalize” your Instagram page! Spend this time engaging, liking, commenting and not just mindlessly scrolling.
If you see something you like, drop a comment!
Posting at the same time everyday, every other day or twice a day – whatever it is, stay consistent with it! Not just consistent with your posting time but what you post.
Instagram predicts which posts of yours are important to users. For instance, I have posted A LOT of chocolate desserts on my feed and they always do well because my followers tend to like and comment on photos of dessert. If I post of photo of myself, it tanks and that’s because Instagram doesn’t recognize it (like facial recognition) and therefore it doesn’t go to the top of my follower’s feeds. Make sense?
#3 Posting Quality Content at the Right Time
Post your best content! Planning out your content and spending time creating a feed that flows is so beneficial. Spending time curating a beautiful and aesthetically pleasing feed is more important than you think. People will be more likely to follow you if they know they will be seeing the same consistent quality from you.
Post when your audience is most active to get more likes and comments. You can use the Instagram Insights to find out the times of day your audience is most active on Instagram.
Go to Insights > Audience > Scroll down to Followers. There you can change the day and see what time your audience is most active online. For planning purposes, sites or apps like later.com are helpful for pre-planning your feed.
A Few Extra Instagram Algorithm Tips and Tricks
Use hashtags wisely. The purpose of hashtags is to make your post accessible to users who don’t follow you but who could be interested in the topic. Try not to use more than 20.
Recycle posts that do well! I repost the same photo every few weeks because I know it always does well!
Run giveaways! Reach out to brands about partnering for a giveaway. Most brands are more than happy to gain some exposure and will agree to give the product away. Follow, like, comment and tag a friend to enter is a simple way to gain some new followers!
Make your post more accessible by using the ALT text (alternative text) in the advance settings tab. This adds richer description to your post so people using the screen readers can hear the description.
Use Instagram stories and create highlights. The Unfold app is a great (free) app for creating beautiful stories. You can also plan stories ahead using later.com or the Later app.
Make sure your bio reflects the audience you want to attract! Tell them a little bit about you but also what YOU can do for them. Your bio should include your name, location, a little bit about you/brand and what you can do for your following. For example: My name is Ciarra, I’m in Atlanta and Los Angeles, I love coffee and I offer healthy recipes and photography services. All of this is in my bio.
Instagram analytics is a great tool to help you see what posts are performing well so you can plan future content.
Best of luck creating those beautiful instagram feeds! As always, if you have questions, drop a comment below! Subscribe below for recipes and more!
I’m a firm believer that you don’t need the most expensive camera, lights or backdrops to get gorgeous photos–you just need to understand light, composition and editing. With that being said, you don’t have to dish out thousands of dollars on camera equipment to achieve success in this industry.
I promise you that whatever camera you have, you can make beautiful photos using it! To read more about what camera gear I have and my lighting setup, click here.