If you’re a blogger, content creator, or business owner, you’re probably familiar with this “algorithm” everyone’s been talking about on Instagram. It’s been around since 2016, but I haven’t been noticing it myself until recently.
Lately most of the posts on my feed have been photos I’ve already liked from the day before, and I haven’t been seeing many new posts. Also, before April, I was getting 600 to 1000 likes per photo, and now I’m struggling to pass 400 likes per photo. WTF Instagram?
You might have heard of the term “shadow ban”, which is basically when Instagram filters your account as spam and bans you from being seen under hashtags. Only you or people who follow you are able to see you under hashtags when you’re shadow banned, so it makes it harder for you to be found by new accounts and gain new followers.
I’m not at all an expert in any of this, but these are just things I’ve either tested out myself or heard about from other articles or other Instagrammers.
1. Consider not using a business profile
I’ve read some articles saying that having a business profile can possibly lower your photos in the algorithm, and quite a few of my friends have switched back to personal profiles. I’m not surprised with this because Instagram constantly encouraged me to pay to promote my posts when I had a business profile.
Here’s some more info on the shadow ban in relation to business profiles.
Update: My engagement actually lowered when I switched back to a personal profile, so I reverted back to a business profile. Read more about it here. I’m not sure how much having a personal or business profile matters in the algorithm, but I personally don’t find that it matters. On the other hand, some other people have found that switching back to a personal profile has worked for them!
2. Quit using bots
I haven’t used any bots before, but I’ve read about them leading to shadow bans. If your account is active in two different countries at once, Instagram’s definitely going to know something is up.
3. Delete hashtags on all of your old posts
This is actually a tip from my fellow blogger friend Jen. If your old posts have been shadow banned, there’s a chance Instagram might shadow ban your future posts, even if the hashtags you’re using aren’t banned (see point #5). Delete every single hashtag on every single photo you’ve used hashtags on. I know it’s going to suck if you have hundreds of photos, but it’ll be worth it.
4. Put your hashtags in the description rather than as a separate comment
For some reason whenever I post hashtags in a separate comment, Instagram automatically shadow bans me, whether I’m using 10 or 30 hashtags. I’ve started to put hashtags in my description instead, and it’s been keeping my photos from being shadow banned.
5. Avoid using spammy hashtags
Here’s an updated list of banned hashtags on Instagram that you should avoid using. You can use this website to check if you’re shadow banned, or for more accuracy you can log into an Instagram account that doesn’t follow you and search through the hashtags you’ve used for your photo.
6. Engage with other people’s photos
One of the worst things Instagram ever did was take away chronological feeds. Not only is it a struggle to be seen under hashtags – it’s not a struggle to be seen by your own followers! If you engage with other people’s photos, they might engage with your photos back, and Instagram will rank your post higher therefore allowing your post to actually be seen.
7. Join Instagram pods
I know a lot of people are against Instagram pods because it isn’t “real engagement”, but I don’t think it hurts if you already get a lot of engagement or if the engagement is genuine and it isn’t just comments like “nice photo!”
8. Take a break from Instagram
I’ve heard that taking a 48-hour break from posting or liking/commenting on photos on Instagram can actually help your account if you’ve been shadow banned.
9. Take advantage of Instagram Stories
While my photo reach has been cut in half, my Instagram Story reach has actually increased. I’ve seen a lot of people posting stories to let followers know they’ve posted, and while I haven’t done this, it seems to be a great strategy! Your followers may not even know you’ve posted, so try letting them know through your stories.
The wonderful thing about Instagram Stories is that they’re in chronological order. So, that also means you need to be as active as possible on it so that your name always comes up on people’s feeds – just don’t overdo it!
10. Encourage your followers to turn on post notifications
In a post or a story, encourage your followers to turn on post notifications for your posts! While I don’t think you’ll get an amazing turnout, you might get a few people to turn them on. Every little bit counts. I personally only keep post notifications on for my closest friends because my favourite Instagrammers post too many times day – something to also keep in mind.
I know the new algorithm sucks, but don’t let it get to you too much. At the end of the day, you’re putting out content that makes you happy, and likes are just numbers. They don’t matter. Instead, focus on building your brand on multiple platforms – your blog, other social media accounts – don’t put all your eggs into one basket (in this case, Instagram)!
Hopefully some of these tips are helpful to you. If you have any questions or any other tips, please feel free to leave them below in the comments!
P.S. if you liked this post, you might like this post on how to fall back in love with Instagram if you’ve lost inspiration. For more Instagram tips, visit my Instagram archives.