Understand Instagram Algorithm – Guest post (How to win at Instagram at 2022)

Like many of you, I have been personally victimized by Instagram, or should I say the Instagram Algorithm. 

Over the last few year, I’ve noticed a significant drop in my impressions, engagement, and number of new followers. The reason: Instagram’s 2021 Algorithm. Thanks to the recent updates, Only 10% of your followers can see your post.

Whenever the algorithm updated and engagement tanked, my first thought would be, “Why would Instagram hurt themselves by ruining this experience for so many users?” or “This is it for Instagram. Time to find another app”. However, I decided to investigate and understand the reasons for the changes. Here’s what I discovered:

Instagram’s goal is to monetize! 

This may seem obvious to you, but it is possible that you are wondering how changing the algorithm can change this. Let me tell you. Instagram is a business, and they must make money. So how does it make money? It remains one of the most important forms social media. How do they do it? Keep users on the app for as long as possible How do they keep their users on Instagram? They don’t! We do! Because of this, Instagram favors accounts who can keep their followers as active and engaged as possible!

These are the best ways to keep your audience captivated.

  • Post Photos / Videos
  • Post Stories
  • Instagram Lives
  • Reels
  • IGTV
  • Guides
  • Repond to your DMs
  • Comment

Odds are you’re already doing most of these, which is really great! The real question is, how often do you do these?

Fact: Instagram will favor those who spend more time on the app and keep their followers engaged. This means you should do a majority of these items listed above each and every day. Post your photos, reels, and stories daily, go live every day even if just for 2 minutes, answer your DM’s as soon as possible, and reply to comments on your latest posts immediately. 

If you aren’t doing these things daily, you will not see growth and will continue to feel the oppression of the 2021 Algorithm.  

Now that you understand the logic behind Instagram and what they expect from you as a user, let’s dive into the specific tactics you can use to grow your Instagram under the new algorithm. 

  • Engage/comment back within the first 60 minute of posting to increase engagement. Not only will your followers appreciate it but Instagram will boost your post and show it to more of your followers! 
  • Do not edit your post’s caption or location tag for 24 hours! I’m not entirely sure why but doing such will significantly lower your chances for it to be seen.
  • Do not delete your posts and repost them. Same reason as above. I’ve done this before and my reposted photo tanked. 
  •  Although you can use up to 30 hashtags in a post, this can now be picked up as spam. If Instagram thinks you are spamming, they will keep your reach low. It’s been up in the air for a while about what the sweet spot with hashtags is, but people say that they seem to have better luck with about five unique hashtags. – Still unsure about this rule but test it out for yourself and see how it works.
  • Do not use the Similar Use hashtags all the time! Switch these up, or else it’ll look like you’re a bot, which means spam, which means lower reach. 
  • Your hashtags should be posted in the comments, not in the caption. I don’t think it honestly matters. I’ve tried both and sometimes my reach is great, and sometimes it sucks. It's best to test it out yourself and see if it makes a difference for you. I don't like the idea of using hashtags in comments, so I try to avoid it.
  • Post more to gain followers This may seem risky. If Instagram is only showing your content to 10% of your followers, then you’ll risk having lower engagement on posts you’ve worked hard on creating. But here’s why you should post more. When you post more, you will reach a higher percentage of people daily. For example, if you share two times per day, you will reach around 20% of your followers instead of 10%. Your followers will engage with your posts more often if they are visible to more people. When your followers engage and use the app, Instagram takes notice and will share your account with other accounts, so your chances of gaining new followers increases. 
  • Post less to increase engagement I know, I just said to post less. However, I have found that when I post less, my overall post reach is higher. Your post can circulate for longer periods of time. Instagram's algorithm means that our feeds are not in chronological order, but are arranged according to what we want to see. Instagram knows that people follow you and would like to see your content. So even if Instagram doesn’t show your posts to a majority of your followers at first, it may get picked up by the algorithm and end up on your followers’ feeds later on. Try waiting for a few days before posting again.
  • Geotag popular destinations. The sad truth is that Instagram will show you more followers if your geotag includes a popular destination. These include Santorini and Barcelona, Paris, Venice, Barcelona, Paris, and any other location that is trending or attracts tourists. So if you’re reading this blog post because you want to gain more followers and have better engagement, one simple solution would be to visit and create content in super popular destinations. This is something that some Instagrammers have achieved great success with. I go to other places than for the sake of growing my IG.

Sidenote: I wouldn’t recommend tagging a photo in Santorini that isn’t Santorini. Instagram has recognition software, so you won't be able to fool them. 

Other ways you can get on Instagram’s good side is by utilizing new features like story highlights, polls, music, quizzes, chats, and following hashtags.  

  Each time you use a new feature, Instagram sees your interest in the app and rewards you by showing more followers your content. So start following hashtags you like, use IGTV, make Reels, create story polls to encourage your audience to engage, and neatly curate your story highlights so your old and new followers alike can stay up to date with what’s going on in your life. People will be more likely to continue watching your stories if they are well-titled and organized.  To read more about how to gain Instagram followers using stories, click here! 

Now here’s why the Algorithm is actually a good thing:

  • Since your post will only be reaching a fraction of your followers, it’s more important than ever to give your audience a reason to follow along. Influencers will need to share the best content and be more accessible to their followers.
  • It’s time to get personal and focus more on creating a sense of community! You can say goodbye to the passive influencer and welcome your new, interactive friend. To engage followers and grow a network, you must establish a real friendship. Try to answer questions when someone comments in depth on your post. You may gain more insight into them and increase engagement. Send a genuine reply to someone who DMs. Be real people!

The new Instagram Algorithm encourages and forcibly forces others to be more authentic and real. So don’t worry so much about the numbers and start focusing on building relationships with your followers.

Hang tight everyone! Don’t lose hope. Just remember, “where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.” – Machiavelli