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Instagram revealed: Algorithm bullshit & other social media myths debunked

Instagram is an enigma and keeps puzzling us all! Why do some people grow very fast and others not grow at all? Why do some accounts get 1,000 likes in a minute and others just 5 - 100? It all comes down to mathematics and social behavior. This can be influenced with tricks and bots, but also by the way you handle your account.

But in the end it is the algorithm that gives you more reach, or less.

Yes that does seem unfair, but it is a system used widely in the computer world on almost any platform, take Google for example. It's something that we unfortunately just have to accept, but not something we can blame for everything and use as an excuse for our own failing behavior on Instagram to explain why your account is performing badly.

Of course partially it is, but like Madonna, a pro always knows how to adapt to the market, changing circumstances and come out on top!

I get these questions several times a week from my clients, in my workshops and even from friends and fellow IG-ers asking me how to get more likes, followers, and how to beat the NEW algorithm!

Well let me burst your bubble: there is NO NEW algorithm!

It has been there all the time, since a few years, analyzing your behavior, data and taking into account all the new features IG keeps adding!

But what is an algorithm exactly?

Wiki states that: ‘’an algorithm is an unambiguous specification of how to solve a class of problems. Algorithms can perform calculation, data processing and automated reasoning tasks.’’

Conclusion: an algorithm is just a computer system calculating your value for the app based on a number of specifications. So why is there NO NEW algorithm? Because IG just keeps updating it and adding new metrics.

Also note that if your behavior or type of pictures has changed this can also influence the algorithmic results and consequently your reach!

And remember the competition on IG has become huge with 95 million pics shared on the platform per day, and 800 million monthly active users, this has become one of the most competitive photo apps in just a few years, having doubled in size, the struggle is real😊

Therefore it is only logical that your pictures and overall gallery overview have to stand out even more now for people to notice, like it and follow you!

So how to deal?

*First of all don’t compare too much & *don’t believe everything you read!

Yes it is hard not to compare because you need to know your competition right?! But still it is impossible to compare on IG as so much can be bought, and everyone has different type of followers and niches. So there are just too many variables to make a good comparison and nothing is transparent!

The only thing you can do is compare and measure against your own average and set the bar from there, or compare with similar accounts who give you insight to all their stats.

Also there are a lot of IG myths out there and I get asked regularly about certain articles and rumors by people panicking over IG, which annoys the hell out of me!

Who says this, who writes this?! Please always be critical about what you read, where do people get these wisdoms from, are they just IG-ers/bloggers speculating and wanting to score many hits on Google with an article like this?

Or do they work for Instagram, are they marketeers or did you read it on a good marketing site? If not, usually these are just rumors and please test for yourself to see if these updates work for you or not.

I always test these ‘’so called Instagram updates and rules’’ on several accounts I manage for clients and my own, and found no proof at all for several myths, for example:

  • 30 # are seen by IG as spam, so use no more than 5 #

  • Don’t put your # in your comment

  • Do not edit your caption after posting

  • Being in pods gets you shadow banned

  • In order to count as engagement comment with 4 words or more

All bullshit!

I don’t have all the answers and don’t work for Instagram either, but I have tested all of these things and found them not to be true, and that implementing these rules can even diminish your reach and engagement! So please be careful with this.

What I do know for sure is that the algorithm keeps changing, so we should definitely keep testing and adjust accordingly. All I’m saying is: don’t believe every IG guru and article you read blindly!

Not to brag, but why should you believe me then?: because I am a certified online marketeer, I give monthly workshops about Instagram Marketing, I have set up and successfully managed IG accounts for more than 10 brands already, am testing on IG on a daily basis, and have worked with over 90 companies, brands, entrepreneurs and startups on this the past 2 years, about which you can read more here: Work With Me

So what should you do and look for when you see a drop in your engagement?

Here’s a short checklist for you:

  • New features like IG stories, going live and saving posts are there to help you and increase your reach, so use them!

  • If you are not using these new features and not many people are saving your posts the algorithm will likely take this into account.

  • If you are not that active anymore, post less and don’t like and comment on other accounts throughout the day,

  • if you don’t follow new accounts on a daily basis,

  • or don’t post regularly, these are all things that can cause a decrease in reach as the computer systems sees you as a less valuable member to the community.

  • And a decrease in reach will certainly cause a decrease in likes and the followers you gain.

  • All important things to do on a daily basis!

It is not just 1 thing that will help, it is a combination of all of these that will make the difference for your account!

  • But also knowing your brand and posting more niche pictures, that appeal to your current followers will help increase your likes, as they are following you to see these pics.

  • Having a business account can help filter out the pics that get the most engagement and reach, to find out which kind of pictures will work best for your account.

  • Post on the right times and with a popular general location, all things that can be analyzed in your business account stats as well.

  • And of course # are still a very important factor you can use in your advantage if you know how to use them!

  • # are created by IG as a search tool for people to find you! So use enough, maybe even 30, as long as you research them well. Make sure they are related to the picture, but also not used more than 1 million times.

  • The less they are used the more chances you have to make it into the top 9 for this #. But if they are used less than 10,000 times for example, they are more likely to get very low search results.

  • Research them well, and most importantly make sure they are very relevant to your picture. This way even very popular # used over 1 million times can work well for you and get you in the top 9.

But there are many more tips I can give you and have given already in previous blogs. If you're interested to find out more in depth go to my Social Media Tips page and use my previous blogs as a checklist, or go directly to the 6 related blogs at the bottom of this page.

I will also be sharing weekly IG tips on my Instagram account, just go to the picture above and click follow to stay updated. And of course I am happy to help you in a private consult or during one of my Instagram group workshops in the Netherlands as well:

Good luck and I hope this blog helped clarify the puzzle that is called Instagram for you a bit! Do let me know what you think in the comments here below and tell me if you think I missed something. Always nice to hear your opinion and additions!

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