I thought I’d do something a little different for this episode. A couple of weeks ago, I took to my Instagram Stories to ask you what your biggest struggle with the Instagram algorithm is. I had HUNDREDS of replies. So I thought I’d do a quick little episode on tackling the most recurring themes. So are you ready to discuss Insta struggles? LET’S GO…
I had so many people tell me that they were being disheartened by people playing the follow and unfollow game. I urge you to turn this mindset around. Yes we want more numbers but what we don’t want is numbers who are there to just make up the numbers do you see what I mean? Rather than be sad that someone unfollows you, count your blessings that they’re not your people and you don’t have to spend any time engaging with them. They wouldn’t have provided you any value anyway so THANK U NEXT.
I knoooow it can feel like this. How you can use the same hashtags, same time of posting, similar pictures, similar captions and get wildly difference results but honestly, the ONLY thing Instagram has is logic. That’s what the algorithm is. And yes it’s bloody frustrating when you think you’ve cracked it only for it to behave bizarrely again. Like that boyfriend you had at secondary school that would buy you a twirl from the snack shop, sign your homework diary and hold your hand in front of his mates, only to send you a day card during assembly that said, ‘you’re dumped’, soon after YES THIS HAPPENED TO ME OK.
But really there was logic there. That boy, wasn’t really that into me.
So you need to learn HOW to make Instagram into you.
By listening to what they say. I used to say this all the time when I wrote about dating. We never have to figure out what a man wants because THEY TELL YOU. That high school boyfriend called me names, sent me fake texts, cancelled my Snake score – he was telling me all along he wasn’t interested – why did the brutal day card dumping of 2000 need to be my wake up call?
So let’s look at what Instagram have told us EXPLICITLY that they’re algorithm looks for…
Relativeness – how related are your pictures to the rest, to your captions, to your niche, to your audience, to your hashtags. There’s no secret to why Mrs Hinch went viral. She posted her grey home solidly and cleaned consistently in her stories – and all she spoke about through captions, stories and hashtags was cleaning and her grey home. She was completely relative to her audience. Her audience are vastly, predominately women interested in cleaning. No random men from Portugal or girls there for the fashion content who aren’t interested when you post what you had for lunch.
Niche accounts grow so much more quickly because of this logic!
Next is timeliness – times of your posts. Sure there are apps that can tell you but honestly, you need to be looking at your ideal follower. When do they use the app? Mrs Hinch did well because she knows most of her audience are stay at home Mums or wives – so she could post throughout the day – not too early when trying to get the kids ready and not too late so they’re trying to entertain their kids and husbands, but during the day when these women had 5 minutes peace.
Again that’s completely logical!
And then engagement – put simply, the algorithm looks at how engaging you are – how much you comment, like and are on the app and how engaged your following is – likes, comments, saves, shares, shout outs, interactions, DMs and boosts you accordingly.
So if you’re out there engaging and creating opportunities to be engaged with – logically your reach will increase!
I know we all love to think the algorithm is out to get us – BEEN THERE and always slip back – but actually we need to focus more on learning it and kinda playing it rather than worrying about it!
One thing that is a pain, but an understandable pain with instagram, is that it does punish inconsistency. If you don’t post for a while, your reach is limited – because of what we’ve just spoken about.
So how do we get round this? Well, I’ll tell you what I’m doing. I’m taking a few days off! I know I don’t have content that’s good enough to put out at the moment and that I don’t have enough of it to be consistent, so I’m just taking a few days off to get ahead, batch create some content, plan out my captions and hashtags so that when I’ve got a decent amount of content ready, I can consistently put it out – be engaging, be relative and be timely – in a planned way! Will let you know if it makes any difference, although I’m sure it will.
So could you try this? Get ahead of yourself so you can be consistent?
Again for me this needs to be a mindset shift. As soon as we all stop caring about follower growth and instead focus on engaging and being engaged with by ‘our people’ the better off we’ll all be. Stop seeing Instagram as a place to grow a following. Instead see it as somewhere to build relationships, create inspiring content and start discussions. When you do this, a following will naturally grow. But if you have the mindset of chasing growth, you’ll fall into the trap of trying to do what other people are doing instead of being yourself.
Let’s look at these styling videos for example. One person had the brainwave and went viral, now everyone’s doing them – even if fashion isn’t their niche. Therefore they’re turning off their followers who came for something else because they’re pursuing growth. It doesn’t work like that.
When you know your ideal follower, you’ll know what content to make for that person and when you make content for that person – more people like that person will follow!
This is a big one. And I totally get it. When I was teaching 60 hours a week I could not be arsed at alllll to make decent Instagram content.
So what’s the solution? We can’t magic up more hours in a day, can we?
So we prioritise and batch – in my opinion.
Instagram might not be your priority as you try and grow your online platforms and that’s OK. Figure out what platforms drive the most traffic, best engagement and top comments and make that your priority. If, however, Instagram IS your top platform then you have to make time.
And you can do that by batch working! For example, spend 1 hour a week writing all your captions for the following week. Spend a couple of hours making up lists of hashtags and put them into your predictive text so you only type the word xtag and a whole list is quickly populated. Spend a couple of hours on a weekend taking the week ahead’s pictures and if you don’t get enough, use some stock photography or quotes. Then spend just 10-15 minutes a day commenting on other people’s posts – doesn’t seem so daunting now does it?
This is the bit where I’m going to have to do some tough talking I’m afraid. And only because I totally get it too. On a daily basis I only leave the house to go to Starbucks. And I could definitely fall into the trap of feeling not interesting enough – but there are TONS of ways to share your day in an interesting way. Actually I’m going to write a whole blog post on this because I feel it deeeeeply so keep an eye out.
Also, I totally get it about content. My photos are shit. I’m not an Instagram model. I don’t have brand new clothes every week. I live In Streatham which is hardly the Peak District and I’m not visually creative or original AT ALL.
So then we compare ourselves to others who are all of those things.
ORRRRR we could look at what our USPs are and what our audience follows us for and do more of that.
For example, I used to worry all the time that I wasn’t slim or attractive enough to constantly post pictures of myself and my confidence held me back. Until I realised that tons of midsize and unconfident women followed me because they related. Now I know I can post pictures of myself without worrying about my appearance because for women, like me, that’s still inspirational – if you get what I mean?
By this I presume they meant their photos weren’t getting likes, their stories not being viewed and their captions not getting comments.
Which is really really defeating, I totally get it.
But again there needs to be a mindset shift.
You need to post photos that people are going to like – because they’re good photos, inspiring, interesting, thought-provoking or different. OR if they follow you for YOU then you’re showing YOU more.
You need to regularly post stories that are worth watching – they’re behind the scenes, funny, entertaining, interactive, relatable. The more you’re watched, the more you’ll be watched – so give people a reason to watch!
You need to write captions that are worth commenting on – there needs to be a call to action, or an open question, a discussion point, a relatable story – something that compels people to comment.
Are you doing all of these things and not seeing results? Or are you not being reflective enough? It’s harsh but I have to give myself a telling off regularly! When I post shit pictures and they get no likes, I know that it’s because it’s shit! So then I know I need to post better pictures. Same with captions, the ones that don’t get comments are the ones that aren’t entertaining, provoking or with clear calls to action!
There are a ton more but this is probs dragging on a bit so let’s leave it here shall we? Message me with more of your Instagram struggles and I’ll do a part two very soon!
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