Every social media platform sparks its share of rumors, and the Instagram algorithm is no different.
Despite the mystery and conspiracy theories, businesses have caught on to the fact that, for most consumer brands, an Instagram presence is mandatory.
Instagram boasted over 1 billion active monthly users as of June 2018 – behind Facebook but ahead of Twitter. Plus, Instagram’s largest demographics hail from the United States, Brazil, and India – some of the world’s largest markets!
Whether you’re using Instagram for growing your business or simply trying to reach an audience for fun and engagement, understanding how the algorithm works is key to reaching your goals.
It’s time to pull the mask off and debunk the top Instagram algorithm myths we’ve heard.
Busting the Top 5 Instagram Algorithm Myths
While platforms like Facebook lay their rules bare, Instagram is a little less transparent.
Of course, mystery creates a recipe for rumors to spread, so it’s time to put these Instagram myths to rest for good.
1. “Instagram is Shadowbanning My Account or Specific Posts”
Shadowbanning is the concept that a platform hides a specific user’s posts from the hashtag feeds or searches of those not following you, which obviously would have detrimental effect on your reach and follower growth!
Instagram has categorically denied shadowbanning. Instead, the platform recommends staying up to date on the Instagram algorithm for 2019 so you’re always following best practices.
We can hear you now: “Yes, that sounds exactly like something someone who’s shadowbanning accounts would say.” 🤔
According to Instagram aficionado Jenn Herman, it really boils down to posting like a spammer or bot.
“If you are constantly posting content with only super popular hashtags, tagging people who are not in your posts (all the time), leaving spammy comments like ‘great pic, we should connect,’ playing follow/unfollow games, or other annoying behaviors, you’re a spammer. … And Instagram knows what you’re doing. So your posts are gonna get hidden and blocked.”
In other words, it’s possible to use a disallowed hashtag that may not appear in searches, but your other hashtags WILL. It’s absolutely not the case that using a “banned” hashtag will deactivate all your hashtags or otherwise doom your post to obscurity.
Stay on top of Instagram algorithm changes and updates (by reading our blog!) to understand what qualifies as spam. Instagram knows that people sometimes include the hottest hashtags, even if they’re irrelevant or have become overused and thus “banned” or deactivated to gain followers and engagement – not because they want to add value to the conversation, for example.
2. “Instagram Punishes Me for Using a Third-Party Post Scheduler”
It’s easy to see where this myth came from.
Social media platforms like Instagram have an algorithm and community guidelines in place to make sure content on their websites are 100% authentic.
No one likes bots. It makes sense that the Instagram algorithm would classify posts from third-party schedulers as bot traffic, flag them as spam, and repress the reach, right?
The truth is, Instagram has public code available called an API. We won’t dive into the details about how a public API works here, but it exists so that other – legitimate – apps can connect to Instagram and schedule posts.
Scheduling posts through a third-party app like Tailwind can actually boost your engagement and reach because they help you post content consistently.
Most accounts owners who claim Instagram represses third-party posts aren’t posting original content – they’re posting scraped content from an RSS feed. Don’t copy-paste the same content across the entire internet. Schedule fresh posts for Instagram through Tailwind.
3. “My Life Totally Isn’t Insta-Worthy”
Aw, this one is sad and we’re happy to debunk it!
Some people have an idea in their head that you shouldn’t post on Instagram if you aren’t traveling to Machu Pichu or running a marathon. In the same breath, these folks will tell you that Instagram is filled with narcissistic fake people living fake lives and posting fake photos for likes.
It’s no joke – this concept has even led Instagram to experiment with removing like counts.
The truth is, anything can be interesting – fixing pipes, baking your favorite family recipe, hanging out with your cat. (Whose cat doesn’t have an Insta account?!)
People want authentic content they can relate to.
Photos from a luxury Airbnb villa off the Italian coast are nice to look at – but it’s hard to relate to that type of photo. Honestly, you’re better off brushing up on some video and photography skills so you can highlight your very real and very interesting “mundane” life.
4. “The Instagram Algorithm is Hiding My Posts”
Somewhere along the way, a rumor took hold that a recent Instagram algorithm change was maliciously hiding posts from users’ newsfeeds and only displaying 7% of posts.
It’s not often that Instagram speaks publicly about their algorithm, but on this occasion, they took to Twitter to break their silence on the claims that:
“We have not made any recent changes to feed ranking, and we never hide posts from people you’re following – if you keep scrolling, you will see them all. Again, your feed is personalized to you and evolves over time based on how you use Instagram.”
Instagram shows posts in feeds based on what people interact with. If your engagement is down, focus on creating content that engages your audience by asking questions and starting conversations. In turn, your posts will start showing up in more feeds, more often.
5. “Switching to a Business Account Hurt My Reach”
The business account killer myth stems from the Page Apocalypse on Facebook when the algorithm update made small business pages virtually vanish from newsfeeds in favor of posts from real-world connections.
Luckily for us, the same logic doesn’t transfer to Instagram. Business accounts are good for squeezing engagement and growth from Instagram.
Use Instagram to your full advantage with a business account. Personal accounts aren’t hyperlink-friendly, but business accounts let you add buttons, contact information, and track analytics AND they allow for auto posting of images and videos.
Instagram Myth Busting
The Instagram algorithm in 2019 may seem mysterious and confusing, but that doesn’t mean the platform is out to get you.
- Instagram does not shadowban posts or accounts.
- Instagram won’t limit your reach because you use a post scheduler.
- Everyone can tell their story on Instagram.
- Instagram isn’t hiding your posts.
- Switching to a business account can actually improve your reach – not damage it.
Start by making a few tweaks to your copy, hashtags, and posts. Figure out what’s working and what’s not.
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