How to trick the Instagram Algorithm


Are you overcome with frustration because you’re losing more followers than gaining? Have your comments and likes decreased significantly? We’ve all been there! But don’t worry, we’ve gotchu 😉😉

Before we delve into the secrets of beating the algorithm, I’m going to break down exactly how it works. Let’s begin.

Firstly, Instagram wants to show you content that delights you, grabs your attention, induces you to stay longer and increases the likelihood of you coming back to the app more often 😢 Your attention is what they sell to advertisers to make money, so the app is essentially designed to maximize the attention they get from you, and their algorithm is no different.

The Instagram algorithm evaluates each new post based on an Engagement Metrics that they consider indicative of how delightful a piece of content is. The picture below details a step-by-step process of its workings:

So now that you’ve understood how the algorithm works, what can you do about it? Here are a few preliminary rules to make your posts more visible on your feed to get your engagement and followers back to where they should be:

The headings may sound cliché, but I guarantee the description will help open your eyes 😳😳

RULE #1: Post at times your audience is active

Astonishingly, an Instagram study shows people miss an average 70% of their feeds 😫 If you post at random times during the day when fewer of your followers are on Instagram, your content is less likely to be engaged-with early on and the algorithm is more likely to downgrade you. Although your Instagram feed is not in chronological order, posting at the right time still matters 🙃 To avoid getting lost in the flux of Instagram shots, you need to find the optimal posting time that best caters to your followers. In UK apparently, the best time to post are these, Monday: 7pm and 10pm Tuesday: 3am and 10pm Wednesday: 5pm Thursday: 7am and 11pm Friday: 1am and 8pm Saturday: 12am and 2am Sunday: 5pm ⏰⏰

RULE #2: Use Insta stories and be a story-teller

In the past, Instagram rewarded the users that had the best and most unique images. Now, they also reward those who tell the best stories (hint, hint — this why the Stories feature is so important!) 🏆 Undoubtedly, Instagram Stories is a powerful and effective growth tool for users right now. Additionally, don’t underestimate the power of words. Try different long and short captions to see which type of content resonates better with your audience, and pick a winner 🏆🏆

RULE #3: Develop a personal connection with your followers

Like we said above, Instagram doesn’t care if you have an amazing photo unless you are also telling amazing stories. Try focusing on how to connect with your followers to attract meaningful and consistent engagement. Bored followers don’t engage — and they even unfollow. Try different engagement tactics to see what works best for you 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 All in all, it comes down to the age-old trial and error tactic. Additionally, when a follower does engage, rewarding that engagement with a response will go a long way. People tend to favor accounts that feel like an online community. For more insights on building an authentic connection with your followers click here. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

Create human content, not branded content 💻

When was the last time you got super excited about a post from a business page? Brands and businesses rank in the lower 25% of engagement on Instagram. Does that surprise you? What has been traditionally thought of as good “marketing” content doesn’t work on Instagram. Buzzwords, glossy editorial photos, expensive marketing campaigns and posts about how good your brand or business is make you sound like a salesy robot, and very few of us enjoy interacting with a salesy robot 🤖🤖 Create content that gives your audience value, instead of content that tries to get value from them. Additionally, if you have this super awesome/themed profile, it does come off as branded. Which is why I aim at doing a mix of both on my Instagram @naomi_dsouza.

RULE #4: Stay relevant and continually test new content

Testing helps to evaluate what content your audience loves and considers valuable in order to stay relevant. Test new types of content over time and measure the engagement (likes, comments, shares, saves) each new type of post gets. Keep the content that does well and aim to improve it; whereas drop the content that doesn’t receive good engagement and continue testing. Through plain-old trial and error, you’ll eventually find the type of content that your audience loves and be able to grow your account 🕐

In addition, each individual and account is unique so what’s valuable will be different for everyone, but an objective way to measure this is through your Instagram Insights engagement page. Here’s how you do it:

  • Go to your Instagram Insights page, tap into the Posts section and tap in the Filter section at the top, within that page.

  • Then, filter All posts by Engagement within the last 6 months and Apply.

At the top of this feed, you’ll see the posts which get the highest engagement. These are the types of posts that your audience gets the most visual and content value from, and it’s the type of posts you should improve upon and do more of in the future. If you scroll all the way down the feed to see the content your audience engages with the least. This is the type of content you should most likely stop or do less of in the future because your audience doesn’t respond to it as highly 🙍🏻 The better you get at executing content your audience finds valuable, the higher your engagement will be and the more highly your posts will be ranked by the algorithm ✅✅✅

RULE #5: Leverage relevant hashtags

A few months ago, using plentiful hashtags was a great strategy to increase chances of being featured on the Popular Page to increase the visibility of your account. However, times have changed, the Popular Page is now the Discover Page. You may ask, what difference does it make? Now the images you see are based on your unique interests and the types of images you engage with the most ♻️ Hence, a better strategy would be to leverage fewer and highly targeted hashtags. Do use targeted hashtags that fit into a niche or narrow audience that are more likely to see your posts and engage with them. However, don’t use hashtags like #beauty or #bbloggers that have millions of users is too broad or generic. Click here for tools that can help generate hashtags to drive engagement. ❌ Don’t use only wildly popular tags such as #success or #business ❌ Use tags such as #successmindset or #businesssuccess. This is your best chance to be seen by as many people as possible. Yes, popular tags are searched more often, but there are also more posts, which decreases your chances of being seen.

Do not copy and paste the same tags to each post. This will only lead Instagram to classify your page as spam. Feel free to use the same and/or similar tags, but switch the order of each one.

At the end of the day, you should be reaching people who truly want to follow you. Those who are just looking for a “follow back” won’t do ❎

RULE #6: Know that the algorithm will change, but Instagram won’t

Instagram exists to do one thing: Maximize the time you spend using Instagram 🤑 The algorithm will change whenever they consider they have new/better metrics to measure people’s delight from a piece of content, because the more delightful content you find on the app, the more likely you’ll be to use it for longer and keep coming back more often 😭 Whenever it changes, keep measuring your metrics and pay close attention to the differences between the posts that the algorithm favors (get more Reach) and the ones it doesn’t (get less Reach).

Remember that consistency is key. For increased engagement, you should post approximately four times a day.


Last but not least, the algorithm will change/alter whenever Instagram believes they have newer or better metrics to measure people’s delight from a piece of content. To learn more about Instagram’s engagement metrics click here. Crazy complicated algorithms aside, it’s important to understand who you’re trying to reach. Once you have a grasp of that, then you’ll be in the clear to focus on how to better serve your content.

All in all, its super important to be creative and have fun with your Instagram feed. It’s not always a numbers game. As with any social network, the most successful strategy overall is being authentic and social. Happy gramming! 💋👩🏻‍🏫


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Written and Researched by Angela D’Costa


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