Have you ever felt personally victimized by the Instagram Algorithm? Gone are the days where Instagram is chronological and simple, but that doesn’t mean all is doomed.

Believe it or not, Instagram first rolled out the algorithm as a way to HELP users see more of what interests them. Yes, that means that your engagement may have dropped. But NO, that doesn’t mean Instagram is out to get you.

What the algorithm does

You’ve probably heard about the dreaded algorithm before, but do you know what it does? A lot of people still think it’s just Instagram’s way of penalizing businesses and moving their content to the bottom of the feed. While that may seem like the case, what’s really going on is that Instagram is filtering content based on each individual user’s personal preferences. If your followers aren’t showing much interest in your content, Instagram is going to stop showing it to them every time you post.

The algorithm was designed to keep users on the app for longer periods of time.

If YOU were in charge of the Instagram strategy and you had this goal in mind, what would you do? Probably exactly what Instagram is trying to do with the algorithm. You would show users what you think they are interested in FIRST and more often. Right? Bottom line is, Instagram is not the bad guy.

Before you go blaming the algorithm for your dip in engagement, take a look at how you are using this FREE app and ask yourself what you want out of it.

First, ask yourself what you want out of the app

Do you WANT people to see your content if it doesn’t interest them? Do you WANT hundreds of people to “like” your picture if they’re never actually going to convert to customers? Probably not, right? Sure, it may mean that you have more engagement on your posts, but likes and comments don’t pay your bills!

Then, take a look at your current strategy.

Are you expecting accounts to find you because you threw some hashtags on your photo? Are you posting and dashing off the app or sitting back and expecting the fans to come pouring in? If you aren’t going through the explore tab and engaging with new accounts, how can you expect other people to do that to find you?

The problem with IG users these days is that we are throwing blame at the creators of this free app before we stop to consider what WE are doing to work WITH the algorithm.

Stop trying to “trick” or “outsmart” the algorithm. It’s here to help you.

Here are some ways to leverage the algorithm to work in your favor:

1) Engage with other accounts.

I mean it, do it! At least 5 minutes before AND after you post, start engaging with other accounts. Whether those accounts are people you follow or accounts on the explore page. This shows Instagram (and other users) that you are active on the app and making the effort to engage authentically.

2) Take a step back from focusing on the numbers and focus on delivering content that is true to your brand.

Why do we care so much about how many likes we get on a post? Is it an ego thing? Maybe. Is it validation that people are enjoying what we are posting? Yeah, totally. So if you aren’t getting a lot of likes on a post all of a sudden, maybe take that as a sign that your current audience isn’t connecting with what you are posting.

Is your content true to your brand? If you are confident that it is and you aren’t getting much engagement, that’s a sign that your target audience is off. Take some time to refocus on targeting the right people.

If your content ISN’T true to your brand, but you’re confident that your target market is on-point… stop posting that type of content and go back to the basics of what your brand stands for.

3) Post to your stories CONSISTENTLY

Your Insta stories should complement, not replace, your Instagram feed. IG users use stories to really get to know the ins and outs of your day-to-day operation. Your feed is your “magazine” and your IG Story is your “documentary”. People WANT to get to know the face behind the brand.

There’s a reason Snapchat is starting to fall off the face of the planet when it comes to marketing. People are using IG Stories now more than ever. PLUS, stories only last for 24 hours, so when a user comes to your account and sees that you have a story up, it tells them that you are pretty active on the app.

4) Utilize IGTV

Instagram is basically begging people to use IGTV. What started as a separate app is now part of the main IG app itself, and instead of the IGTV videos being at the top with the stories, they are now part of your static Instagram feed.

Think about it this way; Instagram spent millions of dollars on this feature. Not many people use it, so of course IG is going to “favor” those who do. They WANT it to be a success, even if it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Give it a try and see what it does for you.

5) Craft more compelling captions and don’t just post to post

If you don’t care about the content you are posting, no one else will. If there’s no thought or feelings behind your captions, people will read into that. Stop posting just to post. Gone are the days when the more you post the more you’re seen. Now, it’s more about posting authentic and high-quality content that your audience is actually compelled by.

You could post every day, twice a day, for the rest of time, but if IG doesn’t think your audience is interested in what you’re sellin’, no one will ever see your account. What a waste of time! Instead of spending hours planning captions and pictures for every day of the week, focus on curating high-quality content and put some thought into it.

6) Optimize your hashtags

Choosing the right hashtag groups for your Instagram can be tricky, but it’s important to spend some time on. Before you ever slap a hashtag on your post, look into it first. Are the posts on that hashtag feed in alignment with what you are offering?

One of the most important things to look at is the amount of posts on that hashtag already. If a hashtag has over 1M posts on the hashtag already, you probably don’t want to use it! Why? Your post will get lost in a sea of other posts before it even has a chance to be seen. Instagram will take note of whether or not people are clicking on your post when they are searching through a hashtag. If they don’t, that tells Instagram that people who are interested in that hashtag aren’t interested in your content, and they will stop showing it to them. Makes sense, right?

The Bottom Line

It’s not about outsmarting the algorithm, it’s about working with it. If you are trying to fight the algorithm, you may be doing yourself a disservice. Take a step back and figure out how you can work with the algorithm instead of trying to trick it to work in your favor.

Questions about the algorithm? Drop it below!