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Instagram's Algorithm Update

Instagram is changing its algorithm once again and there’s a lot to know about the update. They’ve claimed that all of their changes are to better serve the purpose that the application was created for – real people sharing photos and being actively engaged in conversation with followers, rather than just building numbers. We’ve compiled the information we’ve read about the changes so that you can keep up to speed on how Instagram works.

Post Exposure

When you create a post, only 10% of your followers will see it at first in order to gauge the interest of your audience. If you have high engagement from these 10% at the start, Instagram will then show it to the rest of your follower base. So, if your followers aren’t actively engaged when you put up a picture, there’s a good chance your posts are never going to be seen by people who matter.


Instagram is now restricting post exposure based on your engagement. In other words, in order to get engagement, you have to give it. If you aren’t responding quickly enough to a majority of comments, Instagram will restrict your exposure. You need to respond to your followers within 60 minutes or your posts’ visibility might decrease.

  • Bot-like comments won’t count as engagement – meaning the comments that are short and general remarks like “Great pic!” or “Love it!” Even though you might not be a bot, when you comment short notes with an emoji or two, Instagram will sort you into this group and disregard your engagement. A good tip is to comment with 4 words or more in order to count as engagement.

  • Create relationships with followers and use engaging captions, don’t just post to get likes. The main purpose of Instagram’s change is to encourage the Instagram community to form actual conversations between people, brands, and influencers.

  • Switch over to a business profile to get your personal analytics. This will help you more effectively engage with your followers because you’ll be able to see their demographics, when they’re most active, and what content of yours they engage most with.


Stories are a great way to help you out with engaging your followers even if your posts aren’t necessarily coming up on their feeds. The stories shown first are accounts you engage with the most and having them at the top of the feed will guarantee more eyes on your profile.

There are also two new story features:

  • GIFS (moving stickers)

  • Landscape orientation (you don’t have to unnecessarily crop anymore)


Hashtags are a great way to gain exposure to followers with the same interests as your audience, but Instagram is making it harder to use them without getting yourself banned.

  • Don’t use 30 hashtags in a post. Although technically allowed, it is considered spam now. Instagram wants you to be more genuine with your choice of words so use less (5-7) and find ones that are key to your account and specific photo.

  • Don’t use the same hashtags over and over again, otherwise it will look like spam to Instagram algorithm, so use unique ones every time you post or rotate a bunch in and out.

  • Don’t use hashtags in a comment of your post, otherwise they won’t display under search results. Use them the body of what you write as the caption.

  • Don’t edit your caption for 24 hours after posting OR delete and repost. This will mess with the exposure Instagram allocated for your followers and will end up lowering your visibility. If you really need to delete a post, you’ll be better off posting a new photo completely.

  • Do get followers to follow the hashtags that you use most frequently!

  • Do use hashtags that are popular to get more visibility, but don’t use the most popular search results. Your post will get buried under all of the others and you won’t be able to switch to new hashtags.

Shadow Banning “Bot-Behavior”

Instagram has started doing what people are calling “shadow banning,” or blocking a user and their content in a way that the user doesn’t realize that they’ve been banned. They’ve done this for several reasons which are outlined below.

Comment pods

If you don’t know what comment pods are, it is when you get a group of people to like and comment on a post as soon as it goes up. These were formed to get around the last algorithm in order to push your post to the top of followers’ feeds. But, you can’t do these any more, otherwise you’ll be recognized as a bot and be shadow banned.

Excessive Hashtags

There’s a lot more to hashtags in the new update than the potential to get yourself banned, as mentioned above.

Excessive commenting

Commenting or liking excessively in a short time span will make Instagram sort your behavior into bot behavior, and will most likely shadow ban you as spamming.

There’s a lot of information for these new changes, but it’ll help you get noticed in the long run if you stay on top of algorithm modifications!

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