How to not care about the Instagram algorithm and post anyway

July 7, 2019
You can’t win at Instagram anymore. Quit the platform, quit caring or evolve.

It’s 2019, closer to the end of the year than the start. We all know how rapidly Instagram changes, having lived on the app for years now.

We use it to build our brands. I personally use the platform to stay relevant, gain new customers and earn social proof.

But something’s changed in recent times. In fact, every few months it seems something happens and our posts get less and less engagement. The last major drop I noticed was around June 8 2019. There seemed to be another one at the start of July. 

We’ve read all the ‘hacks’ about ‘beating the Instagram algorithm’ and nothing is working.

Yet, crickets. Crickets riding on tumbleweed, chirping into the abyss.

Yes, we post quality content (I’m a wedding photographer, so every image I post someone has paid me to produce). We engage with other accounts. We post at the same time every single day using a reputable scheduling app. We reply to all our comments. We write meaningful captions intended to elicit responses. We aren’t shy about introducing ourselves on camera.

Yet, crickets. Crickets riding on tumbleweed, chirping into the abyss.

This feels personal. I’ve spent so much of my time since April 2015 on Instagram and I have gone through the motions of feeling cheated. I am literally doing everything right! How is it fair that my work which is better than ever is now being seen by virtually no-one?

screenshots showing lower instagram engagement since july 2019
Left: a typical Instagram post from Feb 2016. Right: a typical post from July 2019. Likes have dropped from over 500 per post to fewer than 30, despite an authentic follower increase of over 300%.

That’s why I’ve needed to shift my mindset. And the surprising thing is, it’s actually been a very healthy, positive change.

I’ve reexamined carefully my reasons for using Instagram. As I mentioned above, I want to stay relevant, gain new customers and earn social proof.

Getting fewer likes, comments and followers changes nothing concerning those goals.

I can still use Instagram to stay relevant by posting every day, and sharing me and my customers’ personal stories.

I can still gain new customers by hashtagging strategically (less is more now though!) and using location tags.

And I can still earn social proof by having more followers than the average account. It may never seem like ‘a lot’ to me, but to a potential customer, it’s impressive enough.

The only thing that the new algorithm affects is my own ego.

The only thing that the new algorithm affects is my own ego. And that should never be a part of my reason for being in business and on Instagram.

Know that whoever was meant to see your post, will. You’re not meant to appeal to everyone – you never were.

It’s been very trying, because when we see our engagement drop, our first instinct is to be so outraged we want to throw in the towel completely.

Dig a little deeper, though, and I see this as an opportunity. Engagement is down for practically everyone, is it not? So now, when you leave a like or comment on someone else’s account, they are more likely to notice it, as it won’t get lost in the sea of other activity on their account. And maybe they’ll even reciprocate!

As others in our niche may leave out of frustration and disillusionment, it’s our chance to continue and to shine.

It’s our chance to continue and to shine.

Although it may seem like it, the important thing to remember is that Instagram isn’t a competition. Unless your sole reason for being on the platform is to gain millions of followers, it really doesn’t matter how much of a following you have, how many likes or comments you’re getting.

The key is to figure out your own personal reasons that compel you to post. It might be to:

  • build a community
  • generate a buzz around a product
  • convert followers to customers
  • show that we are active and relevant
  • showcase user-generated content
  • show behind-the-scenes of our work 
  • create a beautiful curated feed
  • keep as a visual diary or microblog
  • inspire, educate and inform

I think for most of us we will find that dropping metrics have zero bearing on our actual Instagram goals, and more to do with ego and stuff that isn’t actually helpful to hold onto. There are so many reasons why we can shine brighter than ever on our favorite social platform.

 

san francisco city hall wedding photographer
Zoe Larkin is a San Francisco-based wedding photographer & fine art graduate originally from London. She specializes in photographing intimate weddings for joyful, free-thinking couples. Zoe creates raw, personal images that evoke a range of emotions, combining documentary photography with a stylized edge. Her work has been published on A Practical Wedding, Offbeat Bride, Equally Wed, Catalyst Wed Co, Love Inc Mag among others. She adores simplicity, kindness & Earl Grey. Zoe is an equality-minded vendor that celebrates diversity in all its forms. Read more about Zoe here