Why the Instagram Algorithm Is so Frustrating

Updated on June 29, 2018

Here's the Problem We're All Experiencing

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How does the new Instagram algorithm make you feel?

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How Does the Algorithm Affect Me?

So here's the deal. Instagram let us know that things were getting shaken up by the new algorithm in March of 2016. They said the switch from a chronological feed ensured that we'd all be seeing posts we cared about most. By now, we've mostly figured out that the posts shown are based on the level of engagement they get. So if people like your photo, share it, DM you about it or comment, Instagram gives it more attention and pushes it up. This seems like a great idea in theory, except that if you're up against the attention Cardi B is getting, you're doomed. In short, you've probably noticed that your posts are getting a lot less attention, or your friends/clients are actually missing them altogether. (See photo)

What Can I Do About it?

1. Figure Out Your Best Engagement Time

This is important for all your social media platforms. You know your audience, and you have a good idea about when they're typically on Instagram. Is it on their lunch break? Their commute home? As soon as they get out of bed? If you can't recall when people are most engaged with you, track and test it for about a month, and you'll see the patterns pretty quickly. By the way, you can do this with a pen and paper or get an app like Later or Planoly that maps it out for you. When you figure out your best posting times/days, go for it! Do it consistently and reap the rewards of your research.

2. Start Posting to Stories Frequently

You've probably noticed that you get a lot more views on your stories than on your posts. Since the algorithm takes your engagement there into consideration, use this to your advantage. Begin posting more to your stories and use the features Instagram gives you to broaden your audience. Tagging your location ensures more views and the poll feature gives you some major engagement points. The trick is asking questions that make your audience want to give their opinion. I've found that the more personal the question, the more engagement is received. Put more effort into your stories and Instagram will take notice.

3. Engage with Your Audience

There are two factors to this insight. First, you want to get your audience's attention. Post quality content that is authentic and your audience will most likely stick around. Try a new and interesting pose or a caption that would make someone linger. Secondly, respond to your engagement quickly. When you get a comment or a DM, like it and respond asap. Instagram rewards people who care about their followers.

4. Post the Right Content

Aesthetic and authentic, these are the words to think about when curating your posts. Find a layout that suits you and keep it consistent, and develop a style for your posts that is easily identifiable. VSCO makes it really easy to find a great filter that will make all your photos look clean and like they belong together. Your audience wants to know what to expect from you. If it feels real yet beautiful, they'll keep coming back.

Bonus Tip

It may seem like a lot of work to maneuver around the new Instagram algorithm, but it is possible. If your business or personal website is needing more traffic, Instagram is certainly a great tool. Don't forget to utilize other tools at your disposal like improving SEO traffic by updating your website often and trying to partner with other bloggers or brands to get more exposure.


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