10 Hard Truths of Instagram (Instagram Algorithm Talk)

MAY DAY! MAY DAY! Happy Monday + Happy MAY. Can ya believe it’s already May????? Alright alright alriiiiiiiiiiiiight, we’re gonna get fired up today! ICYMI, Instagram has made some changes. And they continue to make changes (hello, the Instagram algorithm). And a lot of bloggers are hella peeved about it. I totally get it. I’m with ya 100% on being frustrated + fed up. The Instagram algorithm is the hot topic of the blogging world. But at the end of the day, every rose has its thorn – including Instagram – and I’m personally *sick + tired* of spending countless hours upon hours stressing to no end about a platform that I have zero control over. For any non-bloggers in the house, these will hopefully still be good points for ya to know, especially since you might’ve been seeing your fave bloggers/accounts making some tweaks to try and work with what they’ve now got.

First thing’s first: the Instagram algorithm changed, making it like Facebook in that your newsfeed is no longer ordered chronologically; it’s ordered how Instagram thinks you’ll like it to be ordered. In my opinion, it’s bogus, cos it’s completely inaccurate for me every time. But that’s beside the point. 😉 First and foremost, it’s important to note: you’re not seeing all of the content from all of the people you’ve opted to follow. A major bummer, since you obviously follow people for a reason; ideally, you’re following them because you like what they post, but unless you turn on notifications for specific accounts to see every new post as it happens (remember that phase where everyone and her mom lost all chill and IG became “TURN ON POST NOTIFICATIONS FOR ME OMG” ???), you’re likely missing out on a lot of content.

Second, the Instagram algorithm continues to change, affecting things like hashtags and engagement, so that even if you’re using certain hashtags to hypothetically get noticed by people who aren’t yet following you but might like your stuff…you still might not be seen.

Essentially, it’s been feeling a lot like a buncha chickens with heads cut off, running around frantically trying to figure out the Instagram algorithm and its formulas and rhyme or reason to Instagram’s madness.

Whether you lovelovelove “the algorithm” and all the jazz that comes with it, or it’s got you swearing off IG altogether or reaching for a drink, we’ve gotta set some things straight here, peeps.

Pink Roses from Bouqs - Instagram Algorithm Talk by popular Philadelphia blogger and influencer Coming Up Roses

  1. Get realistic. I am preaching to myself right here, cos the level of addiction to a silly app is unreal sometimes. I need a #RealityCheck – Instagram is not life. Instagram is Instagram. And half the time, it’s not even depicting real life – it’s depicting the prettiest pieces of real life. Which, as we all well know, is not how real life is 85% of the time.
  2. Know the truth. I’ve seen COUNTLESS articles and posts online recently spewing actual garbage onto the world wide web. Apparently, when people panic, anything becomes believable. Is this just a human thing? 😉 One person cries wolf (or cries shadowban) and the internet loses its mind. Don’t fall for it! Dig as deep as possible in yo’ research to find the roots + sources of information. Is something just being shared on a quasi-believable online gossip site, or is it coming straight from the IG guys themselves? Stuff on Instagram (and the Instagram algorithm) is kept pretty hush hush generally, so beware of whisper-down-the-alley; it rarely ends with the actual truth.
  3. Don’t assume that you’re “shadowbanned” if you see a dip in your engagement. Turns out, everyone’s engagement across the board (for the most part) has been affected in one way or another by the Instagram algorithm. A shadowban is supposedly an intense dip – as in, you’re getting under 100 engagements, where you’re clearly invisible or something. Stop listening to random internet apps telling you whether or not you’ve been shadowbanned; it’s all BS. Instead, focus on doing your own experimentation with your own audience to see what works versus what doesn’t. Figure out WHY your engagement is dipping. Chances are, you’ll still be able to figure out some best practices for yo’self.
  4. Slide into the DM’s. I lovelovelove what Krista of Covering the Bases said about this – about the importance of 1:1 connections and building genuine relationships with your followers. Sometimes, when you’re #hustling and getting sucked up in dumb numbers games (we’ve all been there), it can be easy to forget that that number on Instagram represents actual people (ideally/for the most part). It might sound stupid, but anytime you’re worried about how many followers you have versus have not, I’d bet you’re forgetting that these are HUMAN BEINGS who think you create some pretty cool schtuff. It’s a big deal! Your average high school auditorium fits 2,000ish people. You’re going to have higher engagement rates across the board if you make the effort to personally connect with as many “followers” as possible. Talk to them. Answer them back personally. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing bloggers write on their blogs “I promise I read all of your comments, but I can’t respond to all.” I’m admittedly horrible at responding to comments in a timely manner sometimes and I fall waaaaay too far behind – but I will ALWAYS respond. Why the heck would someone want to keep engaging with you if you don’t engage back? That’s like talking to a wall, and ain’t nobody got time for that. I could say “unless you’re getting some crazy influx of comments on every post” that it might not be reasonable to respond to all, but really, I can’t even honestly say that that’s an excuse; plus, I’ve gotten 100+ comments on some blog posts, and you can bet yo’ bottom dollah I’m still responding to every one 😉 I know you can, too! If someone is making the time to respond to YOU, you owe it to them to answer back. That’s the whole point in what you do. If they engage, engage back. Get to know your followers. Not only will this strengthen your relationships with them, upping your engagement and creating a true conversation (yay!), but it’ll also strengthen your content as you get to personally know yo’ peeps and know what they like, don’t like, want to see more versus less of, etc.
  5. Develop your OWN best practices. If everyone and her mom posted at the exact same time cos an online platform said to do so…how the heck is everyone and her mom gonna get seen?? The Instagram algorithm doesn’t work chronologically, remember. So if there is an influx of content being published at the exact same time, intuitively, we should be able to infer that it’s going to be harder to be seen at that moment. Granted, that’s obvi not coming from Instagram HQ. But if anything, stop assuming that what works for everyone else is what works for you, too. If you see someone “succeeding” and you just copy them, you’re not going to succeed like them. You’re just a copycat. And chances are, peeps will notice. Learn YOUR audience. Know what THEY like best from YOU – not what her audience likes best from her. Post when YOUR peeps are most engaged with YOUR content. Post the types of content they connect best with from YOU (and know this by carefully studying your analytics and developing your own best practices accordingly). It’s not about her – it’s about you. The grass isn’t greener in another yard; it’s greener where you water it. Stop comparing your grass to everyone else’s and water yo’ own damn grass already, girlfriend!
  6. Conversational engagement is king. Content is queen. Here’s the thing: not all engagement is created equal. Everyone and their mom lately is talking about the importance of engagement – which, don’t get my wrong, is fine and TRUE. But at the end of the day, people have figured out how to automate their engagement so that it’s literally run in the background while they go about the rest of their days. The true king here? Conversational engagement. Engagement that starts an actual conversation, inspires a back and forth dialogue. This extends riiiiiight off point numero cuatro right above here. 😉 Having a bunch of people simply “heart” something isn’t nearly as good engagement as getting a bunch of people to get off their behinds and hit up a store to grab the thing you just recommended before it’s hot off the shelves. Simply showing a beautiful image (good content) won’t necessarily get people off their butts. Cos there is so much content out there now – the content market is saturated as ever. But conversational engagement? This is where true influence lies. When your engagement is real, genuine, and just like chatting with a girlfriend, magic can happen. Cos you might not jump off your couch the second some random stranger on the internet shows a beautifully orchestrated, professionally shot, gorgeous image of a product with some cutesy caption and an affiliate link. But, you WILL jump off the couch if your best friend excitedly texts you about this product that you need to try, cos she knows it’s exactly what you need for XYZ reason, etc. Remember the power of genuine connection.
  7. Stop the BS. Stop using fake bots and spammy methods to grow your account. Don’t get be wrong: I 100% understand the whole “but there aren’t enough hours in a day” debacle. My ideal day is a solid 52 hours long. But with Instagram shutting down one popular bot company already, it’s pretty clear what direction they’re headed: they’re going after any sort of automated service. And if they can’t take down the service, chances are, they’ll make the Instagram algorithm one that is overly sensitized and triggered by any sort of bot-like activity.
  8. Focus on what YOU OWN. You don’t own your Instagram. Scary (+ sad), but true. If Instagram shuttered its windows and locked its doors tomorrow, your profile (along with all of your hard-earned followers) would be gone with it. So…are your followers ONLY following you on Instagram? If so, see how that would become a nightmare REAL quick??? Your bread and butter cannot (+ should not) be one social media platform. The two things to focus on: your blog, and your email list. The only duo you actually *own yourself* in this crazy digital world.
  9. Everything is not as it seems. Someone with meaty, KILLER blog content might have only a few thousand Instagram followers, while someone who considers 4 sentences total “a blog post” has multiples hundreds of thousands upon thousands of Instagram followers. Someone might “only” get 200 likes on an image, but convert 50 of them to sales for a company. Another someone might get 12,000 likes and still convert 50…see the difference? Everything is not as it seems. When you hop to someone’s profile for the first time, you have NO CLUE how they got to where they are, or any of the behind-the-scenes action. At this point, a follower count means basically nothing. You can’t assume that every follower is even seeing the content, let alone actively following along, let alone actively + excitedly engaging.  Everything is not as it seems. Stop stressing over everyone else. Embrace community over competition, and focus on yo’ OWN game. Which brings me to…
  10. You actually don’t know. You have literally NO IDEA what’s *really* going on behind the scenes for people. Someone who skyrocketed to “success” – how long were they actually working their tails off behind the scenes to make that happen? Alternatively, do you know who they know, or what resources they had available to them to help on their journey? We all have different paths, different trajectories, and different purposes in life. Someone might be in the right place at the right time with the right people, and that can actually make all the difference. At first glance, it might seem so unfair – as does so much of what Instagram has been rolling out lately – but honestly, that’s life. Life isn’t always fair. Life isn’t always coming up roses. Every rose has its thorn, so it’s about finding the beauty, cherishing that, honoring that, and avoiding the thorns along the way, knowing that they’re a part of the ride but they’re not meant to be your focal point OR what drives your decision-making. Instagram is not life. I repeat: Instagram is not life!!! And neither is the Instagram algorithm. So, stop letting it control yours. Stop getting down on yourself for not growing as fast as the next girl. Focus on you + your own following and making things as kickass for them as possible. THAT is the true key to growth on any platform any day.

Donuts on Instagram - Instagram Algorithm Talk by popular Philadelphia blogger and influencer Coming Up Roses

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What are yo’ thoughts on the Instagram algorithm?

Slash what are yo’ thoughts on all of MY thoughts? Pleasepleaseplease drop ’em in a comment below…I’d lovelovelove to get a conversation going on this. The one thing I ask: Keep it kind + productive. Feel free to engage with each OTHER, and feel free to disagree with things, too, just keep it KIND. Which I know y’all can + will do, cos ya rock like that.

P.S. If ya feel like following me on Instagram, you can do that right here. 😉

Now go forth and Monday like a #boss.

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