Today I wanted to talk Instagram and it’s shitty, damn, blasted algorithm. From bloggers to influencers to businesses and even the general public, it’s been ranted about in every digital and literal form since changing from the place to be, to the place where we lose our minds (and our content mojo!) But since moaning can only let off so much steam, I thought I’d write a post that would actually help you through the worst of it, better yet, maybe even start enjoying again. These things come in waves but we gotta all start somewhere, right?
As we all know, when Facebook took over Instagram they took it upon themselves to make it as difficult as possible to grow unless you give them that dolla for it. What’s more, the bastards use our existing followers as hostage, opting for an algorithm that works in favor of larger accounts or pics with an instantaneous reaction or to randoms with money to spare.
As we waved goodbye to our beloved timeline, the new algorithm decides who (and when) people see your post. Only giving favour to those that get all the comments, likes (and responses) at a rapid speed.
This is why on your daily scroll you’ll come across pictures you haven’t seen but were posted 2 weeks ago. Social Media Anxiety is real and I think it’s safe to say it's only just began.
Although, in the spirit of keeping calm and carrying on, here are some tips that helped me out of my Instagram slump and keep growing. (albeit, slowly!)
DON’T LET YOUR THEME DRAG YOU DOWN
Humans are visual creatures, so it’s only natural if your Instagram feed has a theme that you want to be aesthetically pleasing in a flash. Creating a theme can come naturally but once you have one don’t let it get the better of you. I used to bin perfectly good content all because my insta-OCD wouldn’t let me post something that wasn’t cohesive with my bright, high contrast feed. Turns out, the only person wrapped up in that was me, and no one actually cares that the first 9 don’t go altogether? Do you like it? YOU POST IT!
(side note: is it always that easy? Hell no.)
TELL A STORY
You would think people go for the stories and stay for the photos, but since launching early last year, stories have now become the fabric of a good instagram strategy.
There are loads of accounts I follow for their story content alone and even though their photos do pop up, I am not particularly engaged with them. However over time the more I get to know them, the more I find myself commenting and double tapping pretty much everything they do. If you aren’t quite into video yet, find a way to make stories work for you.
Try apps like Unfold to merge images and video, RAD VHS to add a vintage feel or even create a series for people to tune into. Make healthy use of your highlights with your FAQ's in check make it super easy to tune in and follow progress in whatever you are up to. From planning your wedding (or getting your first round of Botox!) the more people tuning into your stories, the more Instagram will show them your main feed. FACT.
PADDLE FOR YOUR DINGY?
Don’t you just hate being ignored? Everybody does, so make sure you take the time to reply to comments. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no point replying “thank you” to every compliment, but if there are ever any questions make sure you answer them.
NEEDS A HASHTAG
I know a lot of people say hashtags are no longer relevant, but guess what, THEY ARE! It’s all the matter of using the RIGHT hashtags. It is important to use ones related to the image you are posting but it’s also getting that balance of using ones that aren’t overpopulated. If you use a hash tag that has over a million others using it too – your chances of being noticed are much slimmer than if you were to use a hash tag with 50,000 others using it. It’s all a maths game, really!
CREATE A HASHTAG!
One thing Instagram has recently kicked in is follow hashtags. Before you would need to click through a hashtag on a post, or you could search one specifically, but now you can “follow” a hashtag the same way you would follow an account. Instagram’s algorithms will then pick and choose some of the highlights from that collection and surface them in your main feed which is why I’ve now taken on searchable hashtags 'Ronseal' style hashtags like #ColourLover and #RealLifeVelma.
**TAG EVERYTHING **
Tagging may sound like an obvious way to get people to see your images but you’d be surprised how many people don’t. From your lipstick to your handbag, people are constantly looking through tagged images of brands – not to mention, even getting the brand’s attention!
Some bloggers tag non branded OOTD Instagram accounts who potentially feature them, but before you do, make sure your content fits in with theirs. There’s no point in tagging these pages if your content doesn’t fit, find ones that fit you which only leads me to my next point...
YOU DO YOU, BOO
O.K so you keep tagging these huge repost accounts and you aren’t getting reposted. Why? There could be a number of factors, but instead of looking at what you can change to fit in, look at the things you can celebrate for being different!
For instance, my feed is extremely colorful, bright and high contrast AKA the exact opposite of these luxe, grey scale fashion accounts so instead of tagging them and feeling rejected afterward, I look to other accounts, like ones with colour! Just don’t try and change you, you won’t feel good about it and neither will the followers that know you already. Authentic is always best. TRUST!
Do you sometimes check out locations on Instagram to see what cool stuff is there before going? Me too, and so do a lot of people! So if you want more people to stumble across your photos make sure to add a geotag.
STOP NUMBER CHECKING
Ever heard the saying “comparison is the thief of joy”? We all know the more we check on stats, the worse it gets. So why do we do it?! Apart from sucking all the fun out of everything, it can spiral into an obsession and even affect your mental health. Instead of numbers focus on the type of content you just LOVE to do, focusing on bettering yourself and your abilities, not the counter on your profile. So long as you are happy with the content you make, the numbers WILL grow. Keep in mind that everyone is having their own battle on Instagram and it’s not just you!
I know a lot of these points are much easier said than donw, BELIEVE ME, but if Instagram is sending you into a spiral of depression (not even an exaggeration) then try and shift your focus to something else.
For me, stories kept my anxiety at bay (well, ish) when it came to keeping up. Having that platform that I didn't need to 'care' too much about the images I was sharing, then hearing the amazing response from my followers helped me get back on that content creating saddle!
Seeing something else do well really can help cushion the blow, whether or not that’s Pinterest for you or even back to your blog, just try to do something that’ll take the edge off.
But please, I beg of you from one digital human to another, DO NOT GIVE UP BECAUSE OF A NUMBER. YOU ARE MORE THAN THAT!