Explained

How Micro-Influencers are Navigating the New Instagram Algorithm

By Editorial Staff

As one of the most popular social media platforms with billions of users, Instagram is constantly undergoing updates, especially when it comes to their algorithm. Recently, Instagram underwent a controversial algorithm change that has benefitted accounts with huge followings while simultaneously presenting engagement issues for micro-creators. These influencers with followings ranging between 10K and 100K have seen a significant drop in reach and engagement and are now scrambling to find solutions to boost their analytics once again. Let’s break down the facts: 

What’s New with the Instagram Algorithm? 

The Instagram algorithm is always changing based on the mass amount of data it gains every minute. As Instagram has said, the algorithm is powered by machine learning, so the app’s feed ranking is always adapting and improving based on new data. Just like TikTok’s algorithm and For You Page, your Instagram feed isn’t only based on who you follow, but on who and what you like. However, for those who may not have noticed a difference, Instagram’s latest algorithm update has seemingly lessened micro-creators’ reach.

To put it in simpler terms, if your audience isn’t engaging with your content, Instagram will show your content to even fewer people in the future. But why is this happening? Micro-creators speculate it’s because Instagram wants to promote its advertising system. The old algorithm helped creators reach more people without having to pay Instagram to promote their work. Because of this, creators weren’t taking advantage of the advertising system and instead were using their own successful methods to push their content.

Here’s what else has changed

  • Filters: With the old algorithm, reach would increase if you used an Instagram filter. Now, Instagram seems to be pushing content that is unedited and “natural”. While the reasoning behind this is unclear, it could be the app’s way of addressing backlash about beauty standards on the platform.
  • Spamming: The new algorithm discourages creators from posting more than once a day to avoid spamming the feed.
  • Following/ Unfollowing: To boost their followings, many micro-creators will follow a bunch of Instagram users and later unfollow them after they’ve earned extra followers. This tactic has been around forever, but now Instagram has discouraged it by giving those creators who follow and unfollow other users in a short period of time a smaller reach.
  • Emojis: Commenting an emoji or two under a post you like is no longer counted as a useful comment by Instagram and will not benefit a creator in terms of engagement. Instead, comments with more than four letters are considered helpful comments.

View this post on Instagram

Hey:) thought I would do a lil poster just about how you can help out all small business accounts now that the new Instagram algorithm has changed it so much for us! Feel we were all just setting off in our stride and starting to really succeed and now this new algorithm has really screwed a lot of us over with majority of our posts only reaching 10% of the people that follow us! Which seems so pointless because they need to see our posts more than anyone! But to summarise saving posts is a life saver at the moment and the more saves a post has the more people will see it so please if you see a post click save! Only takes a second and means the world 🤍 (Other accounts welcome to share, and CHECK OUT THE REST OF MY ACCOUNT if u have the chance) x Please check out my most recent posts to boost their reach! 💛 *EDIT: I do not know who the original source/discoverer of this info was, it is just what has become known over the last couple weeks in the small business community so thought I would share – I am not claiming it is 100% correct as like I said I do not know where this info originally came from so do not comment/msg asking for sources or resources to back it up, I am simply relaying the information that I have been told* ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #clayearring #clayearrings #homemadeearrings #polymerclay #polymerclayearrings #earringsforsale #earringsforsales #etsy #etsyshop #statementearrings #earringsofinstagram #jewelleryofinstagram #selling #florals #summer #aesthetic #art #brighton #hobby #depop #colourful #forsale #smallbusiness #supportsmallbusinesses #acrylic #paintedearrings #paint #painting

A post shared by liv’s homemade earrings (@livs_earrings_) on

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How the Instagram Algorithm Works

On Instagram, every like and comment is now more important than ever. If you’re wondering how the algorithm works now, here’s the step-by-step breakdown:

  1. As you attempt to grow on Instagram, you post a piece of content.
  2. Instagram then shows your post to 10% of your total audience.
  3. If your audience likes and comments, Instagram will show your content to more users. Thus, more users and engage and your post can end up on the Explore Page or rank higher on a hashtag page.
  4. If your audience doesn’t like and comment, Instagram will reduce your reach so you don’t grow. Or, if your audience does like and comment but no one engages with your content after Instagram showed it to more users, Instagram will subsequently reduce your reach to halt your growth.

Creators have also noticed that the new Instagram algorithm values shares and saves over comments and likes. In fact, there’s a ranking system creators have for specific Instagram interactions available on the platform:

Rank of ImportanceInteraction
1Saves
2Shares
3Comments
4Likes
5Profile Visits

Why are Saves so important? They’re basically a Like multiplied by two. They signal to Instagram that a post is extra valuable, so shares can actually help immensely with reach or getting a piece of content on the Explore Page. As for shares, they’re similar to Retweets on Twitter. They introduce your post to more people to boost your reach when you can’t pay for promotions.

How You Can Support Your Favorite Instagram Micro-Influencers 

Many micro-influencers have spoken out about the recent changes, including popular Disney Instagram creators and small business owners who’ve been hit hard by the new algorithm. If you want to help out your favorite micro-creators or want to know how to help boost your own account, here’s what you can do to avoid a small reach:

  • Like, Comment, Save, and Share: Liking posts, commenting with more than four letters, saving a post, or sharing it to friends/your Instagram Story are great ways to help someone boost their post’s reach while letting them know you appreciate their efforts.
  • Interacting with Followers: For the micro-creators out there, interacting with your followers is a foolproof way to show them that you appreciate their support while increasing your reach. Reply to their comments, reply to their DMs, and like their replies to encourage them to keep interacting with your posts.

  • Spread Information: For many micro-creators, the changes with the algorithm have hurt. But many have realized that their followers may not be as well-versed in algorithm changes and therefore don’t know the right ways to help. To encourage their followers to help, micro-creators have taken to their feed and their Instagram Stories to share educational information about the change. This is a great way to spread awareness to not only lend a helping hand to other creators but to boost your own engagement at the same time.
  • Watch Your Analytics: As a micro-creator, you most likely have an Instagram Professional Account as either a Creator Page or a Business Page. With this account, you have exclusive access to your Instagram analytics, which can show you anything from your general demographics to how many impressions on a post you share. These insights will help you figure out how to successfully keep posting well-performing content to see how your audience is engaging.

This article was written by Selena Ponton

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