Regular Instagram users all know that the famous photo app doesn’t work the same way it used to. There have been several algorithm changes in the last couple of years. Do you remember back in early 2016 when you posted a picture and most of the likes came in quickly right after you posted? Yeah, this doesn’t happen anymore. Although the famous explore page is still a mystery, one thing is clear: You need to go viral to be seen. This change has hurt many small businesses and honest bloggers as they now have to compete with big pages and famous brands. If you don’t get a certain amount of likes and comments in the first hour (the exact amount is unknown) your post will disappear.
Here are 5 tips for individuals who want to grow ORGANICALLY
1. Add hashtags to the main caption not the comments
It is no longer a good idea to copy and paste your hashtags into the comments section. This used to work well and it gave your main caption a clean look, but beware as this may result in the famous “shadowban”. What is a shadow ban? When you post a photo using hashtags, yet your picture no longer shows up on the hashtag search. Your photo is consequently seen by fewer people. Many Instagramers have noticed a significant decrease in engagement after adding hashtags to the comments section, and if you pay attention you’ll see that many big users have reverted back to adding their hashtags to the caption.
2. Join or create a community for your niche
The algorithm change has initiated a shutdown among many bots and automated likers (the famous Instagress shutdown earlier this year) which is great for organic users, however, you must be as active as ever in 2018. A great way to is create a support community in your niche. Find and contact other users in your niche (travel, lifestyle, food etc) and create a small group support system. You can comment and like each others posts, and you can even create a “shoutout” week where you promote the members of the group in your Instagram stories, which brings me to number three.
3. Use Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are where you can finally add those pictures you couldn’t share on your page, such as those cute pictures of your cat or extra photos that didn’t make the cut. IG stories allow your followers to get to know you outside of your feed. As you grow your following you will see that people are genuinely curious to know who you are outside of your photos. People want to put a face to the snapshots you’ve taken around the world or the creative flat lays you’ve designed.
So there is this trend among influencers (especially travel influencers) where you purposely avoid geotagging a spot where you took a great picture. I get that people do not want a copycat story like that alleged Lauren Bullen controversy (read here) but geotagging is essential. If you geotag your photo you are guaranteed to see an increase in engagement. I completely understand that privacy is important, which is why you should not post live photos. I always post photos days or weeks after returning from a trip so that everyone on Instagram doesn’t know where I am at all times. If you take a photo on the weekend, post it the following week with a geotag!
5. Do not buy followers
I know that every article about Instagram growth includes this point but they never go into specific detail about why it is bad for your growth and your reputation. So, I decided to try it out for myself and see what happened. Stay tuned to my next post to follow my experiment of buying 500 fake Instagram followers from 3 major online sites and seeing the disastrous outcome. In 2017, Instagram knows when you are buying from 3rd party sites that aren’t affiliated with Instagram. If you buy followers you will see a decrease in engagement. It will dilute your statistics. For example, a user with 1,000 followers needs less engagement for a post to go viral compared to a user with 100k. If you buy followers and do not receive engagement from them when you post (you won’t because they are fake), your photo will disappear and you become less reputable.