How To Build The Instagram Algorithm (And Boost Your Engagement)

November 9, 2017

Hey all! For many people, Instagram is the heart of social media – following the lives of the latest celebs, becoming an influencer or creeping on your friend’s whereabouts. However, the social media platform has been declining in recent months due to its latest updates (for example the decision to no longer make posts chronological). Here’s what I have found are the best tips when wondering how to beat the Instagram algorithm and to fall in love with it once again.

To understand how to beat the 2021 Instagram algorithm, you have to know what the algorithm is. The algorithm is a series of Instagram updates that aim to prioritise the content you see based on your most common contacts. Therefore, instead of seeing everything chronologically, you see it based on your friends and family. No doubt, this makes it 10x harder to rank, do well, and get likes. By increasing your session time, your feed posts will go past this point and you will be able to like others posts. Getting around the system in a tactical, but not systematic and calculated way, is the best method to do well on Instagram.

How To Beat The Instagram Algorithm: Engagement

This is the most important factor for building awareness of your profile. The more you’re out there, the more often Instagram will showcase your posts. So continue to like and comment, sharing the love is good! Set yourself a daily target of accounts to interact with (I have set mine to 20 accounts), and stick to it. Engaging with others, even a little every day, is the best way to increase your engagement.

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Explore accounts You Do Not Follow

Instagram wants to know you use every aspect of the app, including the Instagram explore page. Every day, click on a couple of the hashtags you use, and have a look at some of the accounts featured. Exploring unfollowed accounts show you are making a conscious effort to get to know others, not keeping within the realm of your following.

Measure Your Engagement Rate

Instagram is not a huge fan of follow loops, and spammy accounts, so whatever you do, do not follow them. Wherever possible, try to ensure that your followers are legit and relevant towards your brand, and it will help your engagement rate. You can find out what yours is using this calculation:

Total Number of Likes and Comments / Follower Count x 100

Anything between 1-3% is what you aim for. If the number is way off (last year mine was 0.4), there are several routes you can take. The most popular is to reduce the number of people you are following – based on the people who interact with and remove followers that are not relevant. Although this reduces the number of followers you have, it maintains your engagement rate at a high level. Try to keep on top of this to keep your account and audience credible. This was the most effective method when I was tackling how to beat the Instagram algorithm.

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Find the right time to post

This involves research. Sign yourself up to an engagement site, and get to know your target demographic. For example, my Instagram statistics show that the majority of my followers are females between 18-24 and are most active on Sunday afternoons and Tuesdays between 7-9pm. If more of your followers are online, posting at that time will allow for greater exposure and traction. Know how to tailor your social media strategy. When you know when you are going to post, try to avoid schedulers. This is because Instagram prefers engagement, as well as posting regularly. Scheduling Instagram posts can be convenient, but not ideal. Try the 30/ 30 or 15/15 rule – engage 15-30 minutes before and after you post. As well as being a content creator yourself, supporting others is something Instagram favours.


Join an Instagram Pod

To guarantee your post will gain reach, you can always join an Instagram Pod. These are private groups in which you send your latest post in, and others will like and comment on it. This is an easy and efficient way to grow a rapport with some of your followers. Over time you will discover the posts they prefer, making your profile more successful.

Using hashtags

Although this is something we all started doing, hashtags on Instagram have somewhat diminished. However, for your post to gain views like it used to, hashtags have to come back. Try using trending tags or any themes popular at the time, this will help Instagram in finding your post. I also like to mix my hashtags up with links that have less than 300,000 total posts. This means that if someone looks at the hashtag, your post is likely to be seen.

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4+) On the topic of hashtags, play about your placing with hashtags, because your post may vary on success depending on whether hashtags are used within the comments or caption. Also, it is recommended to delete previous posts’ hashtags as they may also be preventing your other posts from getting awareness (shadow banning).

What is Shadow Banning?

Here’s what Wikipedia says:

“Shadow banning, also called stealth banning, ghost banning or comment ghosting, is the practice of blocking or partially blocking a user or their content from an online community so that it will not be readily apparent to the user that they have been banned”

Although this is not something that Instagram has not mentioned as something it does, it is known for Instagram to “hide some accounts”. Although you may not know it is happening, your engagement will be a lot lower than usual. There are many reasons this can happen:

  • harmful or offensive content
  • liking or commenting too often (looks spammy)
  • following or unfollowing too much
  • using hashtags that do not exist (you will know if they don’t have an explore page)
  • inactivity or overposting
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Usually, you will know when you have been shadow banned because of certain actions you have taken – spammy behaviour will do the trick. Just be careful in the way you act to prepare yourself and make sure this doesn’t happen.

Maintain high quality photos

Although this really doesn’t need to be said, higher quality photos are more likely to gain traction. Also,Β  something as simple as setting a consistent theme, relevant content and quality content can help in creating a brand for yourself, potentially gaining loyal followers.

Follow a consistent preset, and use “Preview” apps, to plan out the layout of your posts and social media content before they are published. This is the best way to manage a consistent theme, and to know when a post simply does not fit. The point of this – for others (and Instagram) to know what you post and what niche you fit into. This is especially important when usuing relevant hashtags and ranking on the explore page, as well as finding relevant people to follow.

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Use other social media as promotion

There is no shame in self-promoting, so use other social media to direct followers to your Instagram. This way you can build up a loyal following on many platforms, increasing your brand awareness. It is very easy to use social media to promote external content (a YouTube channel, Etsy shop or blog), but you can also use these platforms to share your Instagram profile.

Use Instagram Stories

As these are in chronological order, you can use Instagram Stories to make your followers aware of your latest post or direct them to a web link. This is a great way to ensure your followers can access your material also. The best way to do well on Instagram is to focus on what is new on the app. Have they just released reels or IGTV? Focus on new features, and try to use that feature as much as possible. This shows that you are versatile and up to date with social media changes, definitely important for those wanting to influence.

I hope this has helped you when wondering how to beat the Instagram algorithm! And why you’re here, how about dropping your Instagram link in the comments below? That way we can all share the love!

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  • Reply
    November 9, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Love the post. Thanks a lot for sharing this, I think it’s gonna help a lot πŸ’•

    • Reply
      Sophia Patel
      November 10, 2017 at 12:15 am

      Thank you so much, glad I could help!xx

  • Reply
    November 9, 2017 at 10:29 pm

    love this i post all the time and instagram is dropping my followers day by day reading this helped a bit

    • Reply
      Sophia Patel
      November 10, 2017 at 12:15 am

      I’ve been having the same problem! Glad I could help, thanks for reading xx

  • Reply
    November 10, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Very good post! I am not the biggest fan of instagram, nor I ever was, but I am still trying to grow following on there. Will use your tips!

    Julia xx

    • Reply
      Sophia Patel
      November 10, 2017 at 10:51 am

      I completely understand, hope the tips help!xx

  • Reply
    Samantha Kresz
    November 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Great advice! Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sophia Patel
      November 13, 2017 at 1:55 am

      Thank you so much, glad I could help!

  • Reply
    Adventures of a New Floridian
    November 11, 2017 at 6:24 am

    Such good info! I only just recently started using Instagram for my blog. I’m still learning and struggling, and getting new followers has been very difficult! I will try some of these, and maybe I will get some more feedback!

    • Reply
      Sophia Patel
      November 13, 2017 at 1:56 am

      Thanks for reading, I completely know what you mean, it’s a lot more difficult to gain awareness of your brand through Instagram! Fingers crossed for you!

  • Reply
    November 11, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Great post! Love all the tips.

    LoneTeenTraveller | Travel Fashion Lifestyle

    • Reply
      Sophia Patel
      November 13, 2017 at 1:56 am

      Thank you so much, glad I could help!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Even though I’m not really into using Instagram lately this is a great and helpful post!😊
    I also wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award 😊
    Here’s my post

    • Reply
      Sophia Patel
      November 19, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      Glad I could help anyway! And thank you so much!x

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