And what if we were all wrong trying to beat it?
Figuring out what the Instagram algorithm does has been the obsession of lots of social media professionals in the past few years. Ever since Instagram stopped pushing chronological feeds, it seems like everyone has been looking for little tips and tricks to beat the algorithm and distribute their content to as many people as possible.
And that's fair, we all spend countless hours creating the best content possible for our community, so we would love for all of its members to see what we produce, and we all love seeing that follower number grow. People keep telling you that the number of followers doesn't matter, but here we are, all trying to grow it.
But anyway, back to the Instagram algorithm.
It's very easy to feel overwhelmed by what it is, how it works, and what it does. In fact, most people out there will tell you things like No one knows how the Instagram algorithm works, not even Instagram. And that's probably true. But in this article, I'll try to show you why trying to understand every bits of it is pointless and potentially hurtful to your Instagram growth.
The Instagram Algorithm Isn't Your Enemy
Close to every article I read or video I watch about the Instagram algorithm is about the same thing: how to beat it? How to trick the algorithm?
But what if that wasn't the way?
Let's focus on what the Instagram algorithm does for a minute.
What the algorithm does, is that it analyzes all the content on the platform, and then sorts it out before putting it on the feed of a user. And the Instagram algorithm sorts it out based on what the user might like and engage with.
Obviously, it's not that simple, but that's the big picture.
So basically, the algorithm has an idea of what a user might like and enjoy, and it pushes content that falls in that niche.
How is that bad? How is that evil? Why would you want to trick this system?
Let's say you post content about cars on Instagram. Wouldn't you want people that like cars to see it?
That's why I don't really buy into the let's beat the algorithm narrative.
Instead, why not try to work hand in hand with it to get the most out of it?
Start Seeing the Instagram Algorithm as a Friend
Your job, as someone who posts on Instagram, is to help the algorithm figure out who your content is for. You want to create content that the algorithm can easily understand, so that it can know who to show it to.
If you’re posting about cars, you might want to post pictures or videos of cars, use the words car, drive, driver, car brand names, road, tires in the caption, and then use a few hashtags that are very relevant to your niche.
This may seem like the advice you would get about writing SEO articles, but that's pretty much what you need to be doing: you need to feed the algorithm what it needs. Posting a picture of something unrelated to your niche, with a vague poetic caption, and a confusing list of 30 trendy non-niche-specific hashtags isn't going to help the Instagram algorithm at all. Instead, the algorithm won't understand what you just posted, and won't show your content anywhere to make sure it's not showing the wrong thing to the wrong people.
The key here, is to make it as easy for the algorithm as possible.
This is a very different approach than trying to beat the algorithm or trying to trick it. Instead, you're supposed to work hand in hand. You make it easy for the Instagram algorithm to do its job, and you'll get rewarded with extra exposure.
Overall, Don't Be Defensive on Instagram
Because no one wants to hurt you.
I know a lot of the Instagram content out there keeps talking about how the Instagram algorithm is screwing you over, or how Instagram keeps on reducing your reach to get you into buying ads, or how the Instagram algorithm changes all the time and it's impossible to keep up.
This kind of content isn't helping you at all. In fact, it's only great at giving you excuses to explain your poor growth or bad performing account.
When I check the Instagram account of my clients, 90% of the time, the content quality and the lack of strategy are the two main reasons why the account isn't growing.
Go to your Instagram account right now, and look at your last 9 posts. Is it clear what your Instagram is about? Are you using keywords? Are you using relevant hashtags? Are you helping the algorithm out?
If the answer is no, then try being less defensive with the algorithm, and try giving it what it needs for a little bit. At least give that a try before you drop thousands of dollars on an overpriced Instagram course that won't teach you anything that you don't already know.
Because convincing you that the Instagram algorithm is the enemy isn't helping you, but it's helping lots of content creators out there that make their money on making you believe that they're on your side trying to fight an imaginary enemy.