Instagram Algorithm Myth Confirmed: Boosting Discovery

Rumors are always flying around about Instagram's algorithm and how to boost visibilty while avoiding the infamous shadowban. This is how I increased my reach and (I think) confirmed one of those IG myths.

As a designer who sells art B2B for the most part, social media is great, but I don't necessarily rely on it to drive most of my sales. Yes, art directors can find my work on social media, but I am not frantically running around to gain followers. My niche is small enough that if someone is looking, they will find me. 

That said, getting almost no engagement on Instagram kinda stung.

We all love a good pat on the back and a couple of emojis, am I right? I have a business profile on IG which has its pluses and minuses, but I love having analytics. I have a small following, but it grows steadily. Recently I was messing around in the app and found the “Discovery” section of the in-post analytics. Mine said ZERO. I didn’t remember seeing it before, so it may be a newer feature. I looked it up:

The Discovery section of Instagram post analytics tells you how many people saw your post that were not already following you. So you really, really want to raise that number. 

When you have views from non-followers, the insights for the post show you where they saw the post and how many impressions it got. They can see it from their home page or hashtags. The function allowing you to follow hashtags has been available for a while now, but I haven’t used it yet because I don’t want a ton of posts clogging my feed. Anyway, others seem to like the feature, so hash-tagging is important to boost discovery. 

This is how I increased my visibility:

I had already heard the rumors going around that IG doesn’t even show your post to your own followers sometimes, so I wanted to boost that number AND my visibility to the rest of the IG users. I saw a few articles suggesting that Instagram shows preference to accounts that contribute to the IG community, so I started getting on the app more often. I had been using it every three days or so, but now I spend around 15 minutes a day on Instagram. 

I usually just scroll through and at most like a few items, but that doesn’t show Instagram’s algorithm that you are interacting with others on the platform. 

Now I am making a point to like several posts every day and comment on a few as well. This is also great because it reminds me to show my fellow artists some Insta love. It also helps improve my feed because IG shows you more posts from the accounts you engage with. During this time I also had been taking a break from posting for about a week. When I posted again, 35% of the impressions were by Instagram users that were NOT following me! Eventually, that number went down because my followers began seeing the post, but that 35% within the first 45 or so minutes was a pretty good indicator. 

It makes sense, if you think about it. The creators of IG wanted to create a platform for interaction and culture, not a place for businesses to churn out content and give nothing back. Of course, they are fine with it if the companies are paying tons of cash for advertising. But we little guys are stuck with mostly organic traffic, so we have to be aware of aspects of the algorithm that can minimize our reach. Really, 15 or so minutes a day is not a bad investment when aiming for quality, organic traffic.

Verdict: this Instagram algorithm myth is probably reality. You have to engage to get engagement. If you want to increase your visibility on Instagram, get on the app and show your favorite accounts some love!