How to crack the Instagram algorithm! (no bullshit!)

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I’m the first one to ask the question, “why does Instagram hate me?” 🤣
We’ve all been there in small businesses...feeling like you’re constantly reinventing your content, trying to stay fresh, keeping up with hashtag trends and reading every blog under the sun about how to increase engagement and likes to grow your account. 
I’ve had my fair share of arguments with Instagram (of course not to them, most of them just go on in my head!) however, despite a few moments of anger and self-deprecating thoughts like “why are they punishing me?” I’ve recently come up with a few answers of my own.... 
  Girl holding phone taking a photo for instagram
  1. Instagram doesn’t hate you. It doesn’t give a shit about you because it’s a robot!
Well, not entirely…Tamara Green recently spoke at one of my networking events for women in small businesses and made the point that Instagram, much like many of us, cares about numbers and keeping its users happy but not in the same way we do because it’s not a person! I had given Instagram a voice in my head and would constantly ask myself questions like ‘why is Instagram punishing me?’ In reality of course, it has no personality! As soon as I realised that, I started asking myself questions based on it being a computer, like ‘how can I prevent errors and increase the reach?’ or ‘how can I jump through some of the invisible hoops in the system?’  After all, Instagram is just a program made up of lots of ‘if’ formulas and I just need to take the yes route instead of the no.
Girl with arms wide open wearing black slogan t-shirt
  1. How to get Instagram to say yes to you… 
The most recent change Instagram is supposedly releasing in the UK any time now, is removing likes, because Instagram doesn’t want the app to be driven by competition. Instead, they want to focus on delivering the tools that make it as efficient (and exciting) as possible for you to connect with your community. We’ve all done that thing where we share our feed posts to our stories and put a gif over the main image saying ‘tap here’ or ‘new post’ so that people will have to actually visit the feed post in order to view it, therefore hopefully increasing likes and comments, right?! So, I put it to you, shouldn’t we be sharing our feed posts to our stories because we just want as many people as possible to see it? Isn’t that more beneficial to us? Should someone reply to my story with a DM instead of commenting on the feed post, it is highly beneficial because I will be engaging with my followers one on one and giving my undivided attention, meaning more chance of extended conversation and the opportunity to get to know them. Long term, that will gain a much better result in keeping them as a follower and potential customer and be crucial in building my community.  
Girl telling story to 2 other girls
  1. Use every communication tool available to you
One of the most recent tools Instagram has made available on stories is being able to open a DM chat on a subject you’re talking about, meaning anyone who views the story can request to join the chat and take part in a much larger conversation. Is it starting to make sense now? It’s all about driving a community feel and engaging with your follower base. The chat tool doesn’t do anything for instant likes etc on feed posts so often gets ignored but it is an incredible tool for creating conversation and getting to know your own community. It creates opportunity for them to get to know you and vice versa, meaning they will continue to follow you and potentially buy from you because they don’t just like your posts, they like YOU. 
 Group of women at a Pink Clouding women’s networking event looking enthralled
  1. Meet your fellow grammars…
I have 2 paths of my business, one being business to business and one being business to customer. For the business to business sector, I run my Pink Clouding Collab Club for women in business to get together and support one another with lots of opportunity to learn from another and collaborate. I recently did an event for this and almost 30 women turned up. It’s incredible seeing all the new faces and always awesome seeing some of my business besties again! Without these women, I have no idea what I would do sometimes so for me, meeting up with them is a MUST! It presents the opportunity to create real friendships and relationships that last and is integral in building your community, brand and social media accounts! I’ve also been to Milton Keynes to set up my stall in a handmade and vintage market in the Centre:MK where I got to sell my products for the entire weekend, meeting my customers face to face and making conversation with them, getting to know about snippets of their personalities and lives. Those moments make a lasting impression within all of us! Again, this continues to build up my community around my brand and ensure I get to know my customers and followers, creating loyalty and trust. Not only is it really enjoyable but it’s massively rewarding too as I have made life long friends that will now be with me through all walks of life! 
2 women laughing as friends
  1. Stop giving a shit about the wrong numbers! 
Stop researching hashtags, stop reading blog posts (after this one 🤣) and stop focusing on the likes. I’ve had posts with hundreds of likes that don’t make me any money and others with 20 likes that have 3/4 sales. Your success is not measured by one single focus of numbers. There are loads more of way more important numbers for you to focus on (that’s another blog post haha!) that in their multitude will define your success. No single parameter is ever responsible. So, focus on creating content that means something to you and is relevant to you as the more relevant it is, the more likely you are to jump on your stories and talk about it too, increasing the conversation and community input. Captions will be easier to write and flow more freely as well, therefore attracting more attention. 
I’m not writing this blog as any expert on the matter and you can see I am still growing myself. I’m just someone who had a realisation and thought it might be helpful to share and hopefully inspire some of you…So, you want to know the answer on how to crack the Instagram algorithm?
It’s all driven by just one very important thing.
COMMUNITY
 
 
All photos courtesy of Carla Corigliano 
Location of photos The Fox and Peony  

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