You heard it here first folks.
One of the obsessions of small business owners, and influencers, is the tricksy and elusive Instagram algorithm. I love math as much as the next person…as in, I’d rather drown in lava than have to deal with it. Yet, the Instagram algorithm still finds itself nested deep in my brain just as much as everyone else sometimes. I didn’t get my likes, and I want to figure out why! It’s understandable that someone would want to learn more about the way Instagram’s system of prioritizing content actually works. It’s also understandable that people would want to know if it is stopping them from reaching their goals.
Let me put your mind to rest though. The Instagram algorithm is not nearly as important as you think.
Now before I share my thoughts and experiences, I need to remind you that I’m talking to small business owners and influencers here. I do believe the algorithm matters more in certain situations than another, and I do believe it’s important to understand how it works on a basic level. However, I’m willing to bet that an overwhelming majority of the world doesn’t need to dwell on beating the algorithm so their family picnic photos can be seen by more people.
What the heck is an algorithm you ask? Ok, maybe I should have started here. This is the decision making formula that Instagram uses to prioritize whose posts get seen where. It’s kind of the like brain behind all those Starbucks photos you see in your feed everyday.
Alright, let’s do this. I present to you, three reasons why the instagram algorithm doesn’t matter as much as you think.
[#one] Your best customers, fans, and friends, will find you!
Think about the last time you decided to buy one of those insanely expensive venti frappes as your favorite coffee shop. (I’m not judging…I’m just trying to get more stars too you know.) You woke up, got out of bed, had second thoughts about having ever had children, and then decided what this day needs is a $9 cup of caffeine. You were tired and unmotivated, but you knew if you got as far as the Starbucks drive-through, you were set! So after hustling your Hasselhoff, you finally arrive and earn those much deserved six stars, putting you just 144 stars away from getting a free beverage.
Nowhere in this little scenario did you completely forget about what you wanted to buy, or where you wanted to get it, just because a decadent iced coffee didn’t pop up in your feed. The truth is, the quality of the product and your relationship with the establishment transcends any algorithm. Your customer besties and ex-lovers will always find a way to see what you’re up to even if your posts don’t get thrown in their feed everyday. This is why building a genuine relationships with your followers is more important than finding tricks that get your content seen by more people.
[#two] It is mostly out of your control.
This is perhaps the most important thing. I’m not sure why I made it number two. 🤷🏻♂️
I’m sure we could all do a better job with not being obsessed over things completely out of our control in a more general sense than this. I’m going to stick to the point here though. There’s almost nothing you can do! Let’s say you did figure out exactly when to post, how to post, what to post, where to post, and even found the right trendy photo filter to make your posts look like everyone else’s posts, it’s going to change soon anyway. Instagram’s systems, and that of all the social networks, are constantly updating their systems so you can’t figure them out. Those who DO figure them out, don’t figure them out for very long. It’s just not worth the sweat.
It’s more worth your time to be figuring out how to improve the content you share and the stories you tell. Instead of spending that time getting everything just “right” in your posts, spend it on brainstorming and general creativity. Get all up in your audience, and try to isolate the three things they like seeing from you more than anything else. This is a far better use of your time. Great photos and stories are timeless, and there’s never any getting it just “right.” If I could go back ten years, I would have spent far less time trying to scheme the systems to get ahead, and I would have spent far more time becoming a better communicator while building better relationships with my clients & followers.
[#three] It makes you into a robot.
I’m not talking about cool robots like Daft Punk or Wall-E. I’m talking about boring robots, like the kind that eat your iPhone cables while vacuuming your floor.
When you become consumed with checking off the boxes needed to please the Instagram gods, you end up doing the same thing everyone else is doing. You end up dumbing down your brilliantly creative mind, just for a few extra likes.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be smart here. Use the right hashtags if you how. Tag the right people if you know who. Use a cool new photo filter if it truly makes your photos look better. I’m just saying that when we please the mind of a robot, we become a robot ourselves. Most of the time when I see an influencer account on Instagram, they could easily be mistaken for just about any other influencer account in a heartbeat. This isn’t because they’re boring or dull. This is because they’ve conformed to a standard that has become so common place that it isn’t even interesting anymore.
Post photos and videos that you love. This means things that will make your followers laugh, relate with you, or so damn envious that they must buy what you just bought. As a general rule, if you had to do something different than what felt right to begin with in order to conform to the “Instagram Standard” that everyone’s trying to live up to, you went too far.
You’re incredible. Just be you. People will appreciate it even if the robot doesn’t know how. Don’t just check the boxes. Use all that pent up creativity to do new and exciting things with your feed. Love the game AND the player. Be a professional in your field, but don’t forget to also be an individual.
As always, there are a plethora of more advanced strategies to pump up your social audiences as well. So check out our Instagram Sponsorship Opportunities and consider partnering with us to give away awesome stuff to your followers. Also, if you’re really serious about your brand and social influence we’d love to work with you one-on-one as well. 🙂