What I Learned About the Instagram Algorithm

This month I did a project to help increase my social media following on my Instagram. I gave myself the challenge to post on Instagram every day for the whole month and put out 1 or 2 Reels per week. This post is about the Instagram algorithm and what I learned about it. 

The Algorithm

Algorithms are strange and mysterious, don’t you think? At a glance, it’s hard to understand them. You feel like you’re stumbling around in the dark trying to find the light. Well, all it takes is a bit of research and experimentation to understand how an algorithm works. 

This week I did research on the Instagram algorithm. I wanted to understand how it worked so I could use it to my advantage for my project. I also experimented with the techniques I learned and found they were effective. 

Image from Pinterest

I started by looking up articles about the Instagram algorithm. Here are a few that I looked at: here and here. Basically, the algorithm shows you what it thinks you want to see. Every post you like, save, comment on, and share in your story has an impact. 

Instagram evaluates your interests, how recently something was posted, your following, and time spent on Instagram. It’s kind of scary how much Instagram analyzes you and the time you spend on the app but it is helpful because it helps you see what you want to see.  

How to Make the Algorithm Work for You

Now the big question is how can you make the algorithm work for you? How do you get your content out there for people to see? I asked myself these questions all month long but I didn’t really think about researching it until halfway through. 

My first mistake was waiting for the algorithm to work for me. I put out content every day and just left it there. I didn’t showcase it and I didn’t try and get it out there for everyone to see. Instead, I expected the algorithm to be my friend. The people will come, I told myself. Someone will see this content and think it’s cool and follow me. That isn’t how it works. 

To get people to see your content you have to be active in showing it to other people.

Here are some tips that will help you get yourself out there: 

  • Share your posts to your story so your followers don’t miss it. 
  • Seek out people that have similar interests to you. 
  • Like other people’s posts so you’re on their radar. 

How do I do that?

Now you’re probably thinking that’s all great, but how do I execute this? What is the best and most effective way to gain followers and show my content? Well, I’m glad you asked because that is the most important part. 

The first thing you want to do is search through your hashtags. Hashtags that you frequently use give you access to other people’s posts. Look through those posts and find accounts that follow way more people than they have followers. These are the accounts you want to follow. They are going to most likely follow you back because they aren’t as concerned about who they follow just like you. I follow over 700 people but only have about 200 followers

Then you will want to like a bunch of their posts. You can go through and like posts you like or just a bunch of random ones. After that, follow them. They will get a notification that you liked a bunch of their posts and they will look at your account and will be more likely to follow you back. They have a positive outlook on your account already because you showered them with love. 

It’s even better if the accounts you follow are small accounts. They want to grow their following and will be grateful that you want to support them. Like people want to help each other grow and this has worked very effectively for me. I’ve found some small accounts that have less than 500 followers and pretty much all of them have followed me back. 

Another place to look for new accounts is in the comments of people’s posts. The top commenters probably comment on posts regularly. You can find a bunch of new accounts that way. If they comment it means they are active and engage with other people’s posts. You want a follower like that because then you will get more engagement. 

This has been effective for my account. When I started doing this almost every account followed me back. The more you do this the more followers you can gain. It’s also important to find people with similar interests to you. I focus mostly on book accounts because that is my niche. Thankfully there are a lot of those kinds of accounts and I can keep my feed primarily book-related. Keep within your niche.

Final Thoughts

While algorithms are confusing and mysterious they can be figured out. Figuring out the Instagram algorithm was a fun journey. I wish I had thought about it sooner but I’m glad I was still able to learn about it. Anyone can implement these strategies and they aren’t that hard. 

You just have to be consistent and keep looking for new accounts. Taking time to learn how something works is definitely worth it and I am thankful I had help from some friends during this journey otherwise I never would have learned this much in such a short time.

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