Since the introduction of the new Instagram algorithm, people have come up with a number of different theories about how it works & how to beat it. Instagram users are desperate to grow their organic following and crack the Instagram algorithm.
Lately, there has been a steady increase in the number of Instagram algorithm rumors, with brands and other influencers posting both warnings and pleas for engagement. In this article, we break down Instagram rumors in 2019, as well as how to beat the Instagram algorithm.
So, with all this noise out there, just what are we supposed to believe? Here are some of the more prevalent rumors debunked and backed up by evidence. Less for you to have to worry about!
Instagram Algorithm Rumors In 2019
1. Instagram Algorithm Rumor – The Algorithm Is Hiding Your Posts: FALSE
There has been word from both brands and influencers who have uploaded a post to their feed, then claimed that the Instagram algorithm has limited their posts to only 7% of their followers. Organic Instagram growth and reach has been severely limited from when the platform first launched.
There have even been posts explaining this to their followers and urging them to comment something even as simple as ‘yes’ on the post and like the post in order for their Instagram content to reach more of their followers.
Does the algorithm really only show posts to 7% of your following? This is most definitely not true.
This rumor had become so widespread that Instagram had to issue a statement explaining that ‘what shows up on your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of your post, how often you use Instagram and how many people you follow.’
It’s easy to understand why businesses on Instagram and influencers were freaking out over this. But it mostly comes down to a decline in organic reach due to more competition as well as users not being able to devote a large amount of time liking and commenting on a single account, not necessarily Instagram being sneaky.
A question a lot of Instagram users are asking themselves: has the Instagram algorithm changed again?
Facebook, Google, Youtube, Twitter, and yes, Instagram constantly change their algorithm. Either on a monthly, weekly or daily basis.
The main concern users face is their reach. How many of your followers see your content? The biggest algorithmic change to Instagram was when they changed from a straight-forward reverse-chronological feed to an algorithmic feed.
This means that rather than all of your followers seeing your content based on when you post it and when the other accounts they follow post, an algorithm determines who, and when, your followers see your content.
Why did Instagram change to an algorithmic feed? As with any big tech platform, the purpose of the Instagram algorithm is to increase engagement. Instagram wants you to spend more time on the app.
Based on their incredible amount of user data, they attempt to determine what type of content you actually want to see. Rather than seeing everything from everyone you follow, you are given a curated feed.
Instagram’s business model is attention. More time on the app = more engagement = more advertising revenue for the app.
Clearly Instagram, with their internal data determined this change resulted in better engagement metrics, so they made the switch to their algorithmic feed in June of 2016. A change that many users were upset with, as Instagram was one of the few apps that didn’t use an algorithm at the time.
It’s more important than ever to understand the Instagram algorithm and post engaging content to maximize your potential reach.
It is also important to remember that with the number of Instagram users steadily increasing, it is becoming harder and harder to ensure that your content is being seen. It’s in a more competitive state than ever before!
The best way to overcome this? Just keep the focus primarily on your brand message, product or service. Don’t be disheartened and just stick to what works best for you, remember you have a lot of competition. You can only do your best to stand out amongst them.
2. Instagram Algorithm Rumor – Comments Have To Be More Than Three Words: FALSE
We are referring to the length of a comment on Instagram and how it affects the position of your posts on your followers feed.
If you listen to the rumors, the Instagram algorithm only recognizes comments that are in words, as opposed to emojis, and the comment needs to be more than three words long to contribute to improving your engagement. Some even say a comment should be a minimum of 4 words and include at least 1 emoji.
Again, this is not true as there is no evidence that words count more than emojis in the algorithm.
This rumor could be linked back to when Instagram pods were popular. The belief was leaving a single heart emoji on someone’s post would be picked up as spam behavior, so to cover this up, people asked one another to write longer comments to seem more authentic.
What is important to remember here is that genuine comments from your followers is what will be most beneficial to your account to help increase engagement. This could be as simple as you asking your followers questions in your captions.
When you take the time to draw people in with your captions, it makes it easier for your followers to become invested in what you’re saying and prompt response.
All comments have value (whether it be words or an emoji) as they create that conversation between you and your following, building a relationship as well as gaining more engagement!
3. Instagram Algorithm Rumor – Liking And Commenting On Someone’s Posts Will Show You More Content From Them: TRUE
This one is actually true! When you engage with someone’s content, their content will appear higher up on your feed. This is because the Instagram algorithm uses relationship. The way you interact with an account to determine what you see first in your feed.
According to Instagram ‘Instagram relies on machine learning based on your past behavior to create a feed for everyone. Even if you follow the exact same accounts as everyone else, you’ll get a personalized feed. This is based on how you interact with those accounts.’
If you go on a liking spree, you will see more of their content. This will be in your feed on a temporary basis. If you want to constantly see their content at the beginning of your feed, engage with them. Constantly engage with that account once it appears more frequently in your feed.
If you want to see more content from a particular account that you love, make sure that you’re making the effort to engage with them! This is also why it is so important to engage your audience and entice them to engage back with you so your content is shown more in their feed.
Your personal Instagram feed is a direct reflection of the content you like the most. Instagram is incentivized to tailor its algorithm to show you more of what you already love. Their goal is to keep you on the app as long as possible. Love dogs? You can bet your bottom dollar your feed will be filled with cute puppy videos.
4. Instagram Algorithm Rumor – Swiping Past Instagram Stories Negatively Impacts Their Reach: TRUE (MAYBE?)
Another post that had gone viral all over Instagram. This post encourages users to tap through stories as opposed to swiping to move on to the next story. Apparently, otherwise, the story gets pushed back in your timeline and shown less.
This is one rumor that is hard to debunk, as no one really understands how exactly Instagram stories works. We know that stories have a different algorithm from the rest of your feed but works in a similar way. It looks for signals, such as interest, relationship, and timeliness.
It will also look at particular behaviors if you actively tap to watch a particular story instead of watching a feed of different stories. As well, it takes into account how many segments are watched in a story.’
So it might sound like this is….true?
People find that if you swipe to the next story it will appear again in their feed. This once again ties in with liking and engaging with a user’s content. Instagram picks up that you like the content and will be made visible to you.
Our advice? The above is actually pays such a small trivial part of your success on Instagram. Always do your research before buying into rumors. Instead, put your focus into your content strategy. This is the number 1 thing that is going to help you build an authentic, thriving community on Instagram.
Alex Tooby breaks down some Instagram rumors in their algorithm in this excellent video below.
5. Instagram Knows If You Buy Likes or Followers: TRUE
People, this ship has sailed. The verdict is in: Instagram, as well as people, can tell if you buy likes or followers. We’ve all come across those accounts with 200,000 followers with 50 engagements per post.
It’s transparent, it’s obvious. You’re not fooling anyone.
Simply put, if your engagement doesn’t match your follower size, not only does it look suspect–Instagram will actually penalize your reach.
While the exact numbers are unknown, the higher your engagement, the better. If you have 100,000 followers, and 25 people engage per post, that is a gigantic signal to Instagram your content is uninteresting. The algorithm is trying to determine whether or not to show your content to more people. Logically, if very few of your followers actually engage (a signal of bot/fake followers), it’s going to tell Instagram that your content isn’t worth sharing.
Therefore, it’s a positive feedback loop. You get less engagement due to the ratio of engagement to your large following, then Instagram shows your post less, getting less engagement. It’s a vicious cycle.
Not only is buying a following a problem algorithmically, but it’s also morally questionable and could impact your reputation.
Verdict: don’t do it.
How To Beat The Instagram Algorithm
The Instagram algorithm is a black box. We can only infer what is true and what isn’t from extensive testing and hints from Instagram themselves. Now that we have a grasp on common misconceptions, let’s talk about how to beat the Instagram algorithm in 2019.
How To Keep Your Instagram Audience Engaged
- Post regularly. The more often the better, preferably once a day (perhaps several times per day in the beginning when you’re trying to get traction)
- Post video content. As a general rule, video content gets more engagement than still photographs
- Like and comment several times per day on similar content in your niche
- When you post, make sure to engage with your followers within the first 30 minutes, as this has been proven to improve your reach
- Use a mix of high volume, high competition and low volume, low competition relevant hashtags for your niche for hashtag optimization
- Geotag your posts to make it geographically relevant and contextual. This will allow you to be discovered by potential followers and improve your reach
- Post regular Instagram stories
- Engage with your followers in comments and direct messages or DMs regularly
- Don’t post the same hashtags every post as Instagram could think of this as spam
In 2019 it’s increasingly important to post engaging, niche content. Ask yourself: what do your followers want? By serving their needs, you’ll likely be on the right side of the Instagram algorithm.
As always, there are no shortcuts to success. You need to have a consistent Instagram aesthetic for your feed. You need an effective Instagram bio. You need to post consistently. You need to engage with your following. In short, be a real, genuine human being. Think of the big creators that you follow. What do they do well? What kind of content do they post? How do they engage with their audience?
In art and business, it’s often a good idea to reverse-engineer your competitor’s success.
As always, the most important thing is to test. Take risks, try new strategies. Measure the results and refine your Instagram marketing strategy.
Looking for help growing a following on Instagram? Hypeplanner is helping businesses, brands & influencers worldwide to easily grow a targeted, real & relevant following on Instagram.