I am pretty active on Instagram. I share:
- What I’m reading and loving
- My training progress
- The animals in my life
- My thoughts on mental wellbeing
- And so much more…
It’s not my goal to grow my profile into the 10s of thousands of followers, but I do take a small amount of pride in my account growing a little – after all, it means that my message is getting out there. Instagram has, however, recently tweaked the algorithm it uses to populate feeds and I know that this is causing some distress amongst its slightly more popular users. I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in comments such as…
Is anyone even seeing my posts these days?
Or something like…
I’ve noticed a decline in likes and comments, are you guys unfollowing me?
And so on and so forth. It’s been a big enough outcry to get me investigating…
Maxwell Gollin, from Falcon.IO explains in his article The 2018 Instagram Algorithm Change: What it means for marketers, that Instagram’s new algorithm was created to ensure that users saw new posts in a timely manner, not necessarily in a chronological order but also not based on post popularity alone. This shift came off the back of Instagram changes in 2016 that many users were unhappy with.
In 2016, Instagram made the call to follow a similar algorithm to Facebook, where users would see posts based on what Instagram predicted users would like:
To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.
The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.
– Posted on Instagram’s Tumblr account: See the moments you care about most first
Users were outraged by this, and very vocal about it too. Since then, Instagram has been working on bringing their users back on board with a variation on their 2016 algorithm; thus the 2018 algorithm was born.
Lexie Carbone, writer for Later – the self proclaimed #1 Marketing Platform for Instagram – says in her article This is how the Instagram algorithm works in 2018 that the new algorithm rewards users that have higher post engagement. This basically means that Instagram will put content at the top of your feed depending on how well it is doing with other users.
After reading through a large number of “how to” articles on improving your Instagram engagement, I’ve come up with my own list…
- Post as many videos as you do photos – apparently its more engaging for users
- Put more stories up – in fact, it’s recommended that you post to your story multiple times a day, and make use of the interactive elements (polls, questions, sliders, etc)
- Use the “Live” feature in your stories daily – 2 minutes a day will boost your followers very quickly, or so they say
- Reply to your comments quickly – you should be replying to all comments within the first hour of you posting and then checking back regularly
- Understand your peak posting times – you should know when your target audience is scrolling through their feeds
- Captions are now more important than ever – it’s no longer just about the media, but the words matter too
- It’s all about the perfect balance in hashtags – you need to be on top of the popular hashtags for your content, which Instagram has made easier by allowing users to “follow” hashtags (on the flip side though, users are also able to block them too!)
- Engaging with your followers through a conversation and competitions are the new way to attract a larger following…
As you can see, the list is primarily a to-do list all designed to keep you glued to your screen and using Instagram for longer periods of time. If I sound a little annoyed, it’s because I am.
Instagram is forcing its dedicated users intent on growing their accounts to spend more time using the app. I know you might be thinking “well duh!” because that makes sense, but it’s not just a little more time, it’s committing to hours daily to grow your following. It’s no wonder that addiction rates are increasing and mental health is becoming more and more dependent on social media likes and followers – you have to work so much harder for them!
So, after all my research and ramblings, I guess my point is…
If you are committed to growing your Instagram, or any social media account for that matter, then you need to be aware of the work involved. You need to stay on top of all new developments by either subscribing to any of the numerous websites out there all clamouring to keep you updated, or by doing your own research periodically throughout the year.
You also need to remember, however, that life is more than just likes and followers, and that you shouldn’t spend all day every day trying to grow your following! Don’t get me wrong, Instagram can be a great community of support and fun (especially if you’re engaging with the #bookstagram community!) however, I urge users to think carefully about how much time they’re willing to dedicate to their social media, and try and make sure they have some sort of self-awareness and balance.