With more than a billion active monthly visitors, Instagram is the third most popular social network, making it an important marketing venue. However, Instagram’s algorithms are prone to updating at the least opportune times. When you think that you have figured everything out and can follow an established routine, something changes, and you no longer get nearly as many likes as you are used to. Why does it happen? How can you make sure your account remains popular? Let’s find out.
1. Use of bots, automation tools and engagement pods
Instagram has been fighting automation tools for years. While it is still possible to use them on the platform (which is evident if you consider how many bots and automated accounts you still encounter), they are far less prevalent than before, and Instagram is constantly on the lookout for new ways of limiting “unauthentic activities”. If you heavily rely on automating activities like DMs, comments, follows and unfollows, you constantly run risks of getting penalized.
2. Banned and spammy hashtags
One of the easiest ways to get on Instagram’s wrong side is to use the wrong hashtags. What constitutes wrong? Firstly, there are banned hashtags. Anything related to topics Instagram’s administrators believe to be inappropriate or sensitive gets into this category. Broadly speaking, it can be anything referring to race, gender, religion or any other controversial topic. However, not all banned hashtags are apparent – there are plenty of seemingly innocuous ones like #alone, #brain or #pushups that fall into that category. Then, there are recently blacklisted tags. These usually refer to holidays – around the appropriate dates, hashtags like #thanksgiving or #christmas appear in such numbers that Instagram blacklists them without warning, penalizing everybody who uses them after blacklisting. Finally, there are spammy hashtags – anything like #like4like or #followme. Using any of these will result in your getting shadowbanned – i.e., your posts will not show up for your hashtags or in your followers’ feeds. Needless to say, it will ruin all your marketing efforts – you can buy Instagram likes all you want, but it will not help your promotion efforts until you lift the shadowban.
3. Using Instagram’s newest features
Instagram always makes extra efforts trying to popularize its newly added features. For you, it means that being among the first to jump on the bandwagon can bring you even more significant dividends than you may think at a glance. One of the recent examples is Instagram Reels – 15 to 30-second clips set to music. While the platform’s administration promotes it, everyone who uses it will gain an extra advantage of this boost.
4. Using DMs
DMs are one of the most important engagement tools on Instagram. For example, if you often DM an account, it rises to the top of your Stories feed. It means that you can use it for promotion purposes to your advantage by encouraging your audience to DM you with their queries or feedback or even just emoji reactions.
5. The number of hashtags
You can include up to 30 hashtags, but it does not mean that you should include this exact number. Opinions on the optimal number of hashtags differ: some suggest using the maximum allotted number, others recommend limiting it to 10-12, still others believe that the best solution is not to exceed 2 or 3. You should test what works for your account – your results may differ depending on your topics and areas of interest.
Instagram’s algorithm changes all the time – what works today may not work tomorrow. The only way to stay ahead of the game is to keep an eye on your statistics and try out new things when you notice that you don’t get enough likes.