If you scroll Instagram as often as I do, you may have noticed an ongoing trend: blame the algorithm. Many who find it hard to get discovered on Instagram often spend a lot of the time lamenting that the algorithm is to blame, and whilst I heartily disagree, (there’s a lot to be said for consistency and trend hopping there), one could argue that the Insta algorithm was stacked against smaller creatives.

Traditionally, the algorithm would “test” your content on your followers and if it resonated with them, it would then go on to push it on non-followers “for you” pages. It was a good way for Instagram to ensure your content was “of value” but you can soon see how if you’re someone with more followers, you’re more likely to be pushed. Right? Well. Maybe not. It’s very natural that as your following grows, your engagement ratio will drop – it’s just a fact of life. Not everyone who follows you will be active all the time, whereas a smaller community will be. It’s a catch twenty-two, as of course you want a bigger following, but at what cost- so many larger accounts also lamented the same: how their reach dropped as they grew.

So, what’s the solution?

Well, after weeks of telling creators to “stop crying” about their reach and follower counts in the app, Instagram have announced a major algorithm update designed to help ensure that original content creators get more traction, as opposed to repost accounts (as someone who runs an art account, they’re the bane of my life) whilst also giving smaller accounts more opportunity to be seen.

According to Instagram:

“In the coming months, accounts that repeatedly (10 or more times in the last 30 days) post content from other Instagram users that they didn’t create or enhance in a material way will not be shown in surfaces where we recommend content.”

Which is huge considering some of these accounts amass large amounts of engagement and followings. What will happen instead is that Instagram will find the original post and push that, which is great for smaller accounts that are often victim to aggregator accounts. However, it may alter how content creators and social media managers implement strategy – recycling content may no longer be the easy strategic implement it once was, and what of User Generated Content? Only time will tell-

So, with all this talk of algorithms, how do they actually work on social media, and what does it mean when it comes to your business?

Why Do they Exist?

Before algorithms and “for you” pages, many social media sites merely sorted their content chronologically and, if you decided that you liked what you saw, you’d simply follow that person so that they pop up on your following page. But, over a decade ago, Facebook changed everything, opting to sort your posts in terms of what you would more likely respond to. But why?

The purpose of an algorithm is to filter out irrelevant content or content that’s not high quality. This is because with so much content available today, it’s important for social networks to prioritise content they think a user would like to keep them engaged.

As a marketer that sounds great right? As it gets your content in front of the right people. But sometimes that can fall flat. Because an algorithm’s job is to filter out lower quality or irrelevant content, if you’re not optimising your posts effectively, it can actually mean you get drowned amidst the sea of other content regardless or find yourself put in front of the wrong audience entirely. This is the argument in fact posed by many an Instagram user.

At the end of the day, it is your job to ensure that your content is high quality, relevant and appealing. For example, on Instagram, Carousels get three times more engagement than other post types while Reels are currently boosted so people use the feature. This means your brand should take advantage of these things in order to get seen and if you aren’t, this is likely why you you’re struggling.

Ensure you keep an eye on any algorithm changes to see if you need to tweak your social media strategy. This is something that will likely become all the more important with Instagram’s new change.


So How Do I Get Seen on Instagram?

Did you know that Instagram has the second biggest engagement rate of social networks at 0.60 percent (lagging behind TikTok’s whopping 4.24 percent, but way ahead of Facebook’s 0.15 percent.)

This means that if you aren’t taking advantage of it, you should be, and we don’t mean just posting pictures and leaving. Stories, Reels, Carousels – your options are endless.

Aesthetic First

Instagram is a visual medium, so ensuring you look good aesthetically is crucial. No blurry pictures, no weird cropping (because yes, Instagram is square!) – the algorithm will simply toss you in the bin. Think clearly about your brand’s aesthetic – from your profile picture down to your highlights, and ensure your grid is cohesive and looks good.

Find your Niche!

In order to gain a following on Instagram you need to understand your demographic, similarly to if you were anywhere else! Gauge who you want your followers to be, and act accordingly! This will also help you to hop onto the right trends (usually on reels) and to optimise your content so that the algorithm acts in your favour!

Furthermore, keep your professional page professional, and leave your personal or random photos for your private, non-business account. I have three different accounts on Instagram – personal, art and writing, as the three together would not be cohesive enough to attract followers.


How can people find you if you’re not tagging your posts? Instagram limits how many hashtags you can use in a single post to 30, but you can use as many as possible that are relevant to the post! It’s also recommended to mix up hashtags between really popular tags and more niche ones – that way you won’t get drowned out by popular tags consistently, but will be discoverable there, and whilst the niche tags won’t get you seen by as many people, you’re more likely to be seen. You can also make your own hashtags or put a spin on a trending topic!


Followers will want to visit your profile more if they know you are interested in talking to them in the comments, through direct messages, or even in a live stream. Reply to comments you get on your posts, and tag people and places in your posts, as long as those tags are relevant to the picture or video that you’re posting! Also, head on over to accounts similar to you and comment on their posts too – social media is about building connections, so build them!

Use Stories

Another way to be interactive is by using Instagram Stories. Much like Snapchat, you can post videos and photos that your followers can see, allowing them to send messages if they like them. It’s spontaneous, unpolished content that lets people know what you are promoting and the personality behind it. It also allows you to share links, which you can’t do on Instagram posts.


Final Thoughts

So, with Meta updating how Instagram will work, you may find yourself at an advantage as a smaller account, but don’t feel tempted to sit and wait for the algorithm to do your job for you. Optimise your account, make an effort, and you will be rewarded for your hard work!