How to hack the Instagram algorithm – Top trends & changes you need to know

Just when we think we’ve got it figured out, that pesky instagram algorithm switches it up on us (again!). Don’t freak out when you hear the word “algorithm”… WHAT it is never changes. It’s HOW it works that shifts behind the scenes and impacts the effectiveness of our social media outreach & marketing.

Lucky for you guys I’ve been doing some sleuthing and nerdy research about the changes that are happening across all social media platforms. So, if you’ve noticed a big drop in engagement, seen more ads than ever, and feel like you’re yelling into a void: you’re not alone! Here are the 5 biggest changes to Instagram and Facebook’s algorithms (don’t forget that fb OWNS ig!), and how you can use that info to your advantage to grow your following in 2020 & beyond.

#1: Video is QUEEN.

No way around it, stories and reels need to become your new #1 priority when it comes to posting content on social media. More people are interacting with video than ever before. A user is WAY more likely to see your post if it’s in your story versus on your feed. Not only is it more likely someone will SEE what you’re posting, but there are more opportunities to interact and engage in stories (y’all know I love POLLS!). And increasing your engagement is the only way to get seen by more users. Period. 

#2: Feed Engagement Will Continue Going Down

Don’t freak out. You haven’t been “shadow-banned” and people still like you. The algorithm is changing right now and engagement rates are going down for everyone. You will see a decrease in “likes” and “comments” (and “saves” if you have biz account). It’s all gonna be okay, I promise!

On that note, I know I feel like the bearer of bad news, but: hashtags aren’t what they used to be! They’re still an incredibly useful tool for marketing, but the days where you would post something with a certain hashtag and expect to gain a handful of new followers are long gone, I’m afraid.

What to do with that info? Get even MORE specific about the hashtags you’re using! If a tag has over 500K uses, it’s not going to be effective for you. Choose tags with a sweet spot of 100-300K to authentically generate interest. In addition: MAKE SURE the hashtag you’re using is ACTUALLY RELEVANT to your post! Don’t post a pic with #mondaymotivation on a Thursday, ya dig?

#3: Write an actual caption. “Real” is IN!

The super stylized and curated feed is now officially a thing of the past. People want to engage with real, authentic people and experiences ( so sick of the word “authentic” right now but it’s the only one that fits. Ugh, cringe).

Now, people still appreciate clear, quality photos and there should absolutely be a “method to the madness” when it comes to your feed. You just need to be sure you’re posting high-quality content: meaning your feed posts have to have more *substance* to them than ever before. You can’t just post a super-filtered picture of a Starbucks cup with a caption of heart emojis and expect people to engage with it. 

Bottom line: post with PURPOSE. You need to be serving your followers value in some way.

If you feel stuck about this, check out my previous blog post on where to start when finding your online niche.

#4: Stay consistent

How to turn a “follower” into your “fan”? Show up consistently and deliver value. Bo the “go to” gal for your niche. When people feel like they know you, they feel like they can trust you. If they feel like they can trust you, they are a LOT more likely to engage with your account and/or website and invest your services or product!

#5: More business profiles than EVER

So, Instagram’s business account features just got a whole lot fancier/cleaner/more exclusive. It’s pretty much agreed upon across the board that we’re going to see a huge influx of business accounts on IG; this is because the algorithm just changed to allow only business profiles to use third party automatic publishing tools. Instagram/Facebook/Mark Zuckerberg has a huge interest in business accounts buying sponsored posts and ad space. SO they’re going to make it more attractive for users to make the switch from personal to biz.