Do you want to beat the Instagram algorithm? Ensure your posts get seen by all your followers? Boost engagement, double your DMs and hit a million followers?

We all love these quick fix promises. Tips that ‘guarantee’ an overnight change in your social media fortunes and, possibly more importantly, lay the blame for a stagnating growth rate at the door of The Algorithm™. The problem is that there is no quick fix. There is no secret sauce. There is no “beating” the algorithm.

The secret of the algorithm is that there is no secret to the algorithm.

The real secret is that even Facebook themselves (who own Instagram) don’t know the secrets of their own algorithm. They set it up and the algorithm then teaches itself based on the billions of actions on the network every day. You can’t beat the algorithm; nobody knows how and it is constantly changing anyway.

Nicole, Instagram expert at Lattes for Lunch, shared her Instagram tips and insights on the podcast.

 

Everyone’s feed is different

Social media algorithms are designed to make the network as addictive as possible for every single person and the Instagram algorithm is no different. To achieve that they show every single person different things based on their personal interactions with content on (and off) the platform.

Platforms are aiming to show content to people which keeps them on their platform longer and makes them engage more on the platform. If someone has bought from you, follows your account and regularly engages with your content, they will be shown more of your content. If someone follows you but always scrolls past your posts, they will be shown less of your content. This is partly what creates the “I’m only shown my top 25 people” style posts, you’re not but if you only regularly engage with certain people you will be shown more of their content and less of everything else.

We control our own feeds; what we consume and react to is what we get more of.

Shadowbanning

There is evidence for this. Certainly if Instagram considers your activity to be sketchy; liking/commenting/following too fast (i.e. like a bot), using banned hashtags or if you’ve been reported several times, they will limit your reach for a period of time.  Honey Bee Social have an excellent article about Instagram shadowbanning and banned hashtags which includes a full list of banned hashtags.

A phone with the Instagram logo on the home screen. Text reads "Secrets of the Instagram algorithm. The key things you need to know to succeed on Instagram."

The “trial” feed

There is a theory that posts are shown to a percentage of your followers initially and, based on their response, then distributed more widely.  I don’t work for any social network so I cannot confirm nor deny that. What I will say is that if it is the case all it means is you need to create content that resonates with your audience so you shouldn’t be changing your content or tactics because of it.

How to beat the algorithm

Create great content.

It really is that simple. Create content that is designed specifically for your target market. Be interested in their ideas, experiences and opinions. Add value, ask them questions, be more than a sales account. Offer people something and be clear about what you want. Be a human!

It’s hard work and time consuming, that’s partly why you need a social schedule which you can maintain, not a more more more attitude. Putting out content which is truly tailored to your ideal client will always give you the best chance at success on social media.

The algorithm tl;dr*

If you’re struggling on social, the first place to look is your content. Nobody wants to consider that their content isn’t great or that it’s not what their clients want but it’s far more likely than The Algorithm™ taking against you.

For help finding your audience and creating great content for them, join the Social Media for Humans club.

*tl;dr = too long; didn’t read. The key information from the post.

Alexis outside in front of a hedge with red flowers on it, a blooming rose to the side of her.

Alexis Bushnell (she/her)

“You must always have faith in people. And, most important, you must always have faith in yourself.”
 
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