Instagram Algorithm Myths: A 2019 Guide to the Facts


Let’s be honest: if you’re not on Instagram in 2019, you’re missing out. The popular social media site has quickly become a mobile “must have” in the past few years— and for good reason. Instagram is becoming the platform where content creators and influencers can make their livelihood, grow a community, and establish themselves in the digital world. That being said, the Instagram algorithm — AKA how Instagram determines who sees your posts and why — remains somewhat of a mystery to most. 


Luckily for us, we have a digital department that’s savvy in all things tech: including Instagram and how people can actually grow their following and boost their engagement. We’re here to debunk some of the popular myths that you’ve heard about Instagram algorithm and what’s actually happening.


MYTH: Shadow banning is a thing.

FACT: We’ll give you the facts according to Instagram, and our own opinions. If you aren’t familiar with the term, here’s what it is: allegedly Instagram will hide your content from being viewed by your followers if you use too many hashtags in a post, use the same hashtags too often, or use hashtags that are too broad. Instagram has consistently said that shadow banning is not something they do. BUT: we feel differently (and so does the internet). Multiple users have conducted tests on hashtag use and the results say otherwise. So what’s the truth? We’ll let you be the judge. 


MYTH: Hashtags don’t work.

FACT: We’re going to cut this short: hashtags DO work. The question is, do you need them? Chances are, if you have a huge following, people will simply end up finding you through re-shares, explore features, etc. So, no, influencers with a cult following probably won’t benefit from using hashtags. But for a smaller account, hashtags can do wonders if you keep them relevant to the post. Have a picture of a sunset on the beach, but you used a skincare hashtag? Forget about it. Instagram users are ALWAYS looking for inspiration and new products so keep the hashtags #relevant to the post and topic. And don’t ever use the overused ones like “#love” or “#happy.” 


MYTH: Chronological order is coming back. 

FACT: Nope. Hate to break it to you, but the way content is ranked in the feed is here to stay. According to a tweet from Instagram, “What shows up in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you most engage with [plus some other factors].” Your feed is customized to your tastes and it will evolve over time. The algorithm does account for the time a post goes live, pulling those closer to the top, but it will never be in consistent chronological order. The takeaway: get comfortable with your feed as it is. 


MYTH: You should only post once a day, otherwise people will unfollow you. 

FACT: Nope! That’s the benefit of no longer having a chronological feed: your posts won’t be shown in order, so you won’t be spamming anyone’s feed. If you can increase the amount of content without sacrificing quality, then go for it! Also: it’s your account. Do what makes you happy.


MYTH: Switching to an Instagram Business Account is bad for engagement.

FACT: Nope. Instagram released a statement clarifying that there was no difference in the feed presence, so changing between the two would have zero effect on reach. Need further proof? Check your insights and compare your the number of unique people that saw your post (reach) and the overall number of times it was seen (impressions) and evaluate if a specific style of post had a history of under- or over-performing. 


MYTH: This is a test. Instagram has changed its algorithm so that only 10% of the followers see a post. If you see this post, please like and comment, “yes.” 

FACT: You’re tired of seeing those posts on your feed too, huh? Instagram cleared up this rumor on their Twitter and it’s a total myth. Your feed is personalized to you and evolves over time based on what and who you engage with. What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc. We can all agree that those posts are annoying AF.


MYTH: I can just buy followers and get verified.

FACT: Hard, hard no. Instagram is actually cracking down on bots, and so are agencies and brands. There are programs nowadays that can determine how much of your following and engagement is real versus paid for. Once you buy those bots, you ruin your account and risk getting blacklisted by companies as a fraud influencer. It’s simply not worth it; do the work and actually grow your presence.



Image by @thegreylayers.

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