Instagram’s algorithm is a’changing. Long gone are the days of simply slapping an Instagram filter on an image and pushing upload expecting every follower to see your post. If you’re looking to grow your Instagram following in 2018, we’ve put together a few tips to help you navigate the Instagram waters.

Give a little, get a little

Commenting is the secret sauce nobody tells you about. You must comment on other people’s content AND respond to the comments received on your own content.

Extra- tip: When commenting on other people’s posts, make sure your comment is longer than four words otherwise Instagram won’t recognize it as an authentic comment, which ends up ruining your chances of improving your algorithm odds.

But why?

If you post engaging content that sparks comments, Instagram rewards your content, and broadens who sees it. Here’s the real kicker. You know those comments you worked hard for? You have to respond back. And quick. Your content will get dinged if you don’t respond in a timely manner. Think of each comment as if a friend was asking. Don’t ignore them, let them know what coffee shop you were working at. The insta masses are clamoring.

Two peas in an Instagram pod

For the past couple of years, Instagrammers have been attempting to hack the system by joining Instagram pods. Being a part of a pod means that once a pod member posts, everyone must madly rush to that person’s post and engage with it aka comment/like. As you now know, comments make the Instagram world go ‘round. This tactic worked for a while, but Instagram got wise and created the dreaded Shadow Ban.

“Shadow Ban”…..like The Lion King?

“You must never go there, Instagrammer.” Being shadow-banned is Instagram’s way of punishing you for using the same hashtags repeatedly or receiving inauthentic engagement on the reg (i.e. instagram pods). If you get shadow-banned, you will be virtually undiscoverable to people who don’t follow you. Which means those hashtags you thought long and hard about are irrelevant. You’ll know if you’ve been shadow banned if post engagement starts to slip. The only way to remedy is to lay low and stop using hashtags for a bit. Once you start to hashtag again, make sure the tags are relevant to the image. Keep your chin up!

Extra-tip: Mix up your hashtags! Don’t use the same grouping each time you post. Make sure your hashtags are completely relevant to the post. Otherwise Instagram will see it as spam and then you’ll get #ShadowBanned.

An image doesn’t speak for itself…

Captions matter. Emoji’s don’t get the job done the way they used to. People want valuable content right in the caption. Think of it as micro-blogging. Also, word on the street is that editing the caption within 24 hours of posting hurts your post, so get it right the first time! *sigh*

The moral of the story

Instagram rewards those who use the platform as it was intended, to connect. It’s not about posting, then leaving the app only to come back to check your insights. Nope, you’ve got to engage and #BeAuthentic.

While you’re at it, check out our Instagram hashtag #HollandStorytellers. Shameless plug, we always give a follow back.