The Instagram Shadowban: What It Is & How to Remove It

header image Instagram shadowban - no signs on pink background

You’ve probably heard of the Instagram Shadowban by now. Or maybe you’ve seen dozens of posts about Instagram accounts’ reach and visibility plummeting. As well as content not appearing on the Explore Page!

More reports, theories, and complaints pouring onto social media every day, even as Instagram denies its existence.

So is it a cover-up, or is there a much simpler explanation? Looking at statements and articles over the past three years, we think there is a pretty straightforward reason. And, some tips on what to do if you are shadowbanned.

Ready to investigate?

What is the Instagram Shadowban?

Instagram shadowban – what is it? There seems to be more theories and rumors about the shadowban floating around out there than solid fact. 

Basically, an Instagram shadowban refers to the platform limiting your content reach by restricting visibility. The primary “indicator” of a shadowban is your hashtagged content not appearing on Explore pages to anyone but your followers. Your reach and visibility for posts being severely limited is another result.

This is frustrating for personal accounts, creator accounts and business accounts working on their Instagram growth!

Our first important clue? Shadowbanning is a term lifted from a similar action on Twitter. It’s not an official term, but rather a popular one among social media users.

What do Facebook + Instagram Say About the Shadowban?

Instagram and Facebook have both denied the existence of a shadowban. Here’s a timeline of statements from the company on shadowban. 

2017: Instagram for Business published a message about hashtag search, hinting that this was a result of issues with the system.

 2018: Instagram hosted a group of reporters at its headquarters to explain the Instagram algorithm. They were told the shadowban does not exist.

2019: Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri answered at least two questions related to shadowbans.

Q: Shadowbanning: It’s not a thing, right?

A:Shadowbanning is not a thing. If someone follows you on Instagram, your photos and videos can show up in their feed if they keep using the feed. Being in Explore is not guaranteed for anyone. Sometimes you’ll get lucky, sometimes you won’t.”

Adam Mosseri

Q: Why I don’t see my post under hashtag?

A: “Some people don’t realize this but we don’t actually show every post with a hashtag under that hashtag. We try to show people the ones that they might be the most interested in. This is to try and keep hashtag pages interesting but also to avoid spam and abuse.”

Adam Mosseri

Things started to make sense with the Instagram shadowban in 2019. That’s when TechCrunch broke the news on an update from Facebook and Instagram. That update may be the best explanation for what’s actually going on behind the scenes.

And as Carolina Hadas succinctly put it (after her own scuffle with Instagram over hashtag restrictions): 

“Shadowban is a term that Instagram doesn’t use. They’ve never used it, they’ve always denied it was a thing. It doesn’t mean that the things included in the shadowban label are not happening.”

Carolina Hadas

This is the element we feel has been missing from the whole conversation around shadow bans on Instagram! It makes sense to deny the existence of shadowbanning, because Instagram doesn’t call it that. However, based on actual user experience, the shadowban experience is definitely a thing.

Let’s dive into what’s actually happening on Instagram, and why posts and visibility are getting restricted.

Reduce, Remove, Inform: The Instagram Borderline Content Policy

Understanding “shadowbanning” on Instagram and what that actually looks like takes some research. Let’s look first at their parent company, Facebook’s remove, reduce and inform strategy (Active since 2016.)

This involves removing content that violates our policies, reducing the spread of problematic content that does not violate our policies, and informing people with additional information so they can choose what to click, read or share.” – Tessa Lyons + Guy Rosen, Facebook

Tessa Lyons + Guy Rosen, Facebook App

The important part here is Reduce. As a Facebook Product, Instagram also reduces the visibility of questionable content that hasn’t violated Instagram Community Guidelines outright.

“We’ve started to use machine learning to determine if the actual media posted is eligible to be recommended to our community.”

Will Ruben, Instagram Discovery Product Lead

Instagram moderators label borderline content while reviewing policy violations. Instagram’s algorithm then uses those labels to identify borderline content and suppress its reach.

So yes – Instagram is reducing the reach of borderline content from hashtags and the Explore page. In essence, a shadowban. Which explains the drop in engagement users are seeing as a result.

What is Borderline Content on Instagram?

Borderline content on Instagram refers to content that is inappropriate but does not violate Instagram’s terms of service or Community Guidelines.

Instagram published a brief article in the Help Center in 2019, but it doesn’t really define borderline content.

But the screenshots in the presentation shared by TechCrunch give us some examples:

  • Content depicting violence
  • Graphic or shocking content
  • Sexually suggestive content
  • Posts with misinformation
  • Spam messages

There’s no way to know for sure what constitutes as borderline content yet. here are some actionable things you can do to avoid posting it.

Plus, some tips on how to fix a “shadowban” on Instagram if you think you’ve been hit with one.

How to Check if You’ve Been Shadowbanned

If you can’t already tell, the “shadowban” policies on Instagram make discovering if you’ve been penalized pretty difficult. There is no sure-fire way to know if you’ve been shadowbanned, but here are a few tests to run that should give you a pretty good idea:

  1. Test your posts

Send a new post live featuring a very popular hashtag. Have a few people who do not follow you test the content under that hashtag to see if your post shows up. If it doesn’t you might want to look a little deeper. 

  1. Check your hashtags

One thing that Instagram has verified is that there are certain controversial hashtags that they have hidden. If you see a message under that hashtag that is being hidden, you might have used one of these selected hashtags. 

  1. Review your Instagram insights data

If you’re suddenly seeing a huge drop in impressions engagement outside of your follower base, there is a good chance you’ve been shadowbanned. 

How to Remove an Instagram Shadowban

So, you think you’ve been shadowbanned. Unfortunately, no one is exactly sure how long a shadowban has negative effects on your account. Several users have said two weeks, while others suspect it could go on for longer.

Here are some things that you can do to hopefully set things to right with your account as soon as possible.

1. Stop Any Activity That Goes Against Terms of Service

This includes using cheap engagement tactics like Instagram pods for likes, comments, and followers. Or using any kind of Instagram bot activity to automate engagement. The Instagram algorithm is hard to fool. Any apps that have dodged the crackdown on bot activity won’t be able to for long.

There’s no concrete evidence that activity like this gets you shadowbanned. But, it’s better to play it safe. At a minimum, you could have your account locked for 24-48 hours – or be shut down completely.

2. Revoke Permissions For Any Unapproved Third-Party Apps

There are a ton of apps out there that require access to your Instagram to work. Do you use an app to monitor follows and unfollows, look for hashtags or automate engagement? Bad news: these are all major no-nos.

You should only allow permissions from approved and trusted Partners of Instagram who have permission to access Instagram’s API.

Luckily, Tailwind is an Approved Instagram Partner. You can conduct hashtag research, schedule posts, plan your Instagram grid, and monitor analytics right inside our app!

9-grid visual planning in tailwind

See for yourself with a [sc name=’free-trial-of-tailwind-for-instagram’] here, no credit card required.

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3. Avoid Using Banned or Restricted Hashtags

Using restricted hashtags can limit your engagement. Using these hashtags over and over again could result in your Instagram account being shut down.

Always check your hashtags carefully. Make a habit of doing a quick search before adding new hashtags to your mix to make sure they aren’t restricted.

If you do use a restricted hashtag, you can edit your post and remove just that hashtag.

Hashtag finder in tailwind

No need to remove all of them – just the restricted ones!

Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder tool is great for staying on top of your hashtags. Plus, you can make sure you’re not posting restricted or banned hashtags. You can search for a good mix of hashtags related to your image, and save them into lists!

4. Reach Out to Instagram Support

Followers can’t see your feed posts or find you on the Explore page? It’s worth dropping a note to Instagram Support to see if they can review. To do this, Go to your Profile > Menu > Settings (Cog icon) > Help > Report a Problem.

Don’t mention a shadowban, just let them know your followers can’t see your posts and it’s negatively impacting your business.

5. Don’t Act Like a Bot

It’s true – posting, commenting, and liking too frequently in a short time frame will get you put in Instagram timeout. This is also true for following and unfollowing accounts rapidly.

Instagram considers this unusual engagement rate bot activity. It will put a hold on your account to prevent you from engaging for anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days!

6. Avoid Getting Reported

Reporting is one of the main ways content is flagged. Or, the algorithm might mistake your post for borderline content. Make sure you’re posting content in line with Community Guidelines. Furthermore, make sure your content is in line with your follower’s interests.

7. Take a Break From Instagram

According to most users who suspect they’ve been shadowbanned, taking a break from Instagram was the most effective fix. Avoiding the app for a few days is worth it for a fresh start!

Just remember: when you come back, proceed with caution.

Have you had any experience with shadowbanning or having your reach reduced? Let us know in the comments below!

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An Insider’s Scoop on the Instagram Algorithm

It’s no secret: the Instagram algorithm is a mystery. Efforts to understand it, work with it and even outsmart it have fallen flat for users time and again!

Instagram itself has come out in recent days explaining more about how the Instagram algorithm benefits content – and penalizes harmful or abusive content (Shadowban, anyone?)

However, we recently got a little more insight into the algorithm, and specifically how to make it happy!

If you’re a follower of social media news, you may remember an article from an influencer coming out about her call with Instagram in December 2020, and the insider scoop she got about working with the algorithm.

At the time, social media partners – and even we – were a little hesitant to buy into the methods she reportedly was told.

That is, until Chloe Alysse was invited to a similar Partnership call from Instagram about a week ago! 

(It’s important to note that Chloe was contacted because of her successful Instagram Creator status in the sustainable fashion space, not because she was a Tailwind employee.) 

On the call she received a ton of tips and had her questions answered about how the Instagram algorithm really works, and most importantly, how to work with it to get your content seen.

Buckle up, because we’re picking Chloe’s brain over everything she learned in this article, including when to post, what to post, and how to set a strategy for your Instagram content that the algorithm will really, really like.

How to Make the Instagram Algorithm Happy

We know, we know. The Instagram algorithm seems fickle, and even tried and true recommendations from Instagram experts that used to succeed no longer seem to pass muster.

Is it even possible to make the algorithm happy?

Since my blog is not my full-time gig, I usually just post when I can find the time – I don’t give it the same focus that I do for my work here at Tailwind!

For a while, that didn’t seem to matter to the algorithm. Then, all of a sudden, my engagement tanked. When Instagram reached out, I was so excited but also hesitant to believe there was actually a solution.

But get this – it’s only been two weeks, and I’ve already noticed a major difference!

Chloe Alysse

The answer is definitely yes. The key lies in going back to the basics, and understanding what the purpose of an algorithm is, and how it “speaks” and “listens.”

Algorithms operate and learn through patterns and codes. Therefore, when you create a pattern on Instagram, the algorithm can then understand your pattern and know what to do with it!

There’s a method to the madness, and we’re breaking it down for each major type of Instagram content. Keep reading to find out more!

When to Post on Instagram (And Why!)

Consistency is key on Instagram.

Yeah, you’ve probably heard that a lot; it’s a word tossed around in expert advice…er…frequently. But, that expert advice is on the right track. Maybe the key that’s been missing is understanding exactly how consistent you need to be!
Here’s the scoop: It’s not actually about posting daily.

Your consistency on Instagram needs to be a lot more specific – because the factor that matters most is not that you post on a certain day, but that you post at the exact same time on the same day repeatedly.

I’ve never been great at batch working, but after having my conversation with Instagram, I decided to commit to it for this test. For so long, I’ve just posted whenever I could find the time.

Not only is batch working helping me to feel prepared and productive, it allows me to post at the same time each day, which has really helped my engagement so far.

Chloe Alysse

That’s not all though – the consistency train keeps on rollin’. It has to be that same type of content at the same time on the same day in your schedule. 

For example, if you usually post a carousel Instagram post at 3pm on Fridays, posting a single photo post next Friday is going to confuse the algorithm.

The trick is to remember that I have to post Reels and feed posts on the same day each week. For example, Mondays are feed post days for me and Tuesdays are Reels days!

Chloe Alysse

The less confused the algorithm is, the better when it comes to getting your content seen! 

Perhaps it’s because each piece of Instagram content serves a different purpose, which we’ll get into in a little bit.

First, let’s talk about setting a schedule on Instagram that works with this new information.

Setting Your New Instagram Posting Schedule

Sure, you could throw a dart at a clock and pick a random time that you’ve decided is your time to post. However, you can make a more informed decision here that results in maximum engagement with your audience.

Take a look at your Instagram Insights (located in your Professional Dashboard), and make note of the times when the peak audience is on Instagram in your time zone.

Or, kill two birds with one stone and head on over to your Tailwind Instagram scheduling dashboard!

Tap “Edit Time Slots” in the top right corner of your dashboard (above your Instagram 9-Grid Preview).

First, you’ll want to double check that your timezone is set correctly in the bottom right corner of your Weekly Posting Schedule screen.

A view of the Tailwind Instagram scheduling dashboard, showing a weekly posting schedule with times on each day of the week highlighted in green.

Next, take a look at your time slots! Your Tailwind SmartSchedule generates a posting schedule based on peak audience times on your Instagram account. You can stick with as many of these as you like, or add your own custom time slots! 

Though posting at peak times when your audience is on is important, consistency is even more important. And generally, adjusting your time slot an hour or two either way will still garner you plenty of engagement.

If you want to reach the level of consistency you need, it’s important to fit your posting times to your lifestyle and when you’ll be available to post and engage – not the other way around!

The most important tip I received was to make sure this schedule is realistic. Since I know I can’t post every day, I decided to commit to posting three times each week.

My Instagram partner encouraged me to think of this like a workout schedule. If you do yoga on Tuesday and Thursday mornings each week, you’ll see more results than if you do yoga every single day for a week and then skip the rest of the month because you wore yourself out!

Chloe Alysse

And if you can’t commit to posting every day, don’t beat yourself up! It’s better to post two or three days a week with precision than all over the board five days a week (in our opinion!).

The great thing is, once you have your cadence and your chosen time slots down, you can schedule the right content type to the right days and times months into the future with Tailwind’s Instagram scheduling tool.

Just pop your posts into your drafts and schedule away!

You can even double-check how they all look together with our Instagram 9-grid preview tool and make any adjustments to your feed before hitting “Schedule”.

With times and dates seeming so crucial to great performance with the Instagram algorithm, there’s never been a better time to try out an Instagram scheduler that can help keep you and your content on track.

Trust us on this – sign up for a free trial of Tailwind for Instagram today!

A view of nine Instagram post drafts in Tailwinds Instagram Scheduling 9-Grid Preview Visual Planner, with draft in the top right corner and the posting days and times at the bottom of each image.

What to Post on Instagram

Okay, we’ve talked about when to post to Instagram, and the why’s behind it. Let’s get to the next juicy topic: what to post on Instagram.

The first tidbit here is to generate content that appeals to your community (of course). You’ll want to understand why your community is following you, and then show that type of content.

This serves a few purposes. One, you’re going to get higher engagement on posts that speak to your followers’ interests and the original reason they hit that follow button. 

And while it may be tempting to experiment with new content topics and types, you’ll want to introduce these carefully, and tie them back to your original purpose as much as possible.

“Since my niche is sustainable fashion, I’ve decided to keep my feed posts within that topic and use Reels (which are meant to be for a wider audience) to experiment with other types of content like home decor and vlogs.

Before chatting with Instagram, I never would have thought to think of content planning this way! “

Chloe Alysse

The second reason? The algorithm, of course! The less curveballs and wild posts you throw out there, the more your followers – and the algorithm – will understand what your content is about and connect it to people interested in those topics.

Finally, an interesting tidbit to remember about creating all types of content on Instagram (before we dive into the specifics), is that the algorithm reacts more naturally to posts and Reels made and edited with the Instagram camera.

Instagram Feed Posts 

Instagram views feed posts as memories that you want to keep. In other words, evergreen content that will live forever.

This makes sense when you think about it – an Instagram feed post won’t disappear unless you archive or delete it.

Viewers can scroll down your feed and see posts from years ago, if they have the time to dig!

Each feature has its own purpose. While Stories are a way to share in the moment snapshots and Reels act as a mini trailer to reach new audiences, feed posts are all about the moments you want to remember forever.

They’re for your core audience, who are around cheering you on every day! Thinking about each feature differently has really helped my content planning!

Chloe Alysse

Instagram Reels

In contrast to feed posts, Instagram views Reels as a mini trailer for something you really want to show people. We know from the Reels algorithm update that tutorials, recipes, and humorous content work really well here.

We also know that as the newest feature to hit Instagram, the algorithm is focused on distributing Reels. Meaning reach and engagement for your account is easier to get with Reels than it is with a feed post or Story – at least for right now.

And as the latest Reels feature, Remix is getting a ton of that algorithm love, too. When you’re thinking about your content on Reels, strategize some Remix-able content and urge your followers and viewers to give it a try! 

Another Instagram Reels algorithm success tip? Make sure your song is part of the Instagram library – even if you upload it yourself!

Not doing this could result in your account being flagged, which will negatively affect engagement and reach. That’s what we’re all after, right?

So, to make the algorithm happy, make Reels. In fact, make lots of Reels. Chloe says:

“If you want to grow, Reels are the way to do it. Instagram always focuses on their latest features, and right now, Reels are in the spotlight!

That doesn’t mean you can ditch feed posts and Stories, but it does mean that your content calendar should feature Reels 60% of the time and feed posts 40% of the time.”

Chloe Alysse

Instagram Stories

One insight that surprised us from this call was that the algorithm works differently for Stories – where the name of the game is engagement.

“For Stories, the algorithm works completely differently. You can post whenever you want! My Instagram Partner did recommend at least once a day, but you don’t have to plan these out in advance.

Sharing behind the scenes and real-time moments are perfect for Stories!”

Chloe Alysse

Times and posting frequency don’t matter quite as much with this type of Instagram content. Posting at least one Story a day is good for your account, and you can post more! Just be careful not to oversaturate.

Instagram Hashtags and the Algorithm

With new updates like Instagram Search and hashtags being restricted for a good part of last year, some burning questions on hashtags came up on Chloe’s call, and she got the scoop.

Here are the best practices for using hashtags in an algorithm-friendly way:

Hashtags for minimalist fashion on Chloe Alysse instagram post

One surprising detail I learned had to do with hashtags! I thought it was best to use all 30 hashtags, but it’s actually better to carefully select 15.

Three of these hashtags should be tailored to your brand or niche, and the rest should be an attempt to find your ideal audience – so long as they still relate to your content. So think about who might enjoy this post that doesn’t follow you already, and use your remaining hashtags to attract them! “

Chloe Alysse
  • Use no more than 15 hashtags at a time
  • Dedicate at least 3 but no more than 5 that are tailored to you and your brand specifically
  • Use the rest of your hashtags to find NEW people, and keep them related to the content itself
  • The best hashtags to go for have 50,000 posts and relate to your content.
  • The rest of your hashtags should focus on other niches (again, find NEW people!)

And we know you’re wondering – what does the algorithm think about hashtags in the description versus in the first comment?

The answer is, it doesn’t matter where you put your hashtags. However, if you put them in a comment, you need to do it immediately. These two things should happen at the same time – which is why if you’re not using Tailwind’s Hashtags in First Comment feature, you should try it out!

With Hashtags in First Comment, the hashtags are posted immediately in the first comment as soon as your post is pushed live. There’s no clicking around to drop a list you’ve copied and pasted into the comments, wasting valuable seconds or minutes!

Bonus Tidbit: Why Am I Losing Instagram Followers?

One nasty side effect of losing followers, sometimes huge amounts in a day, is that it impacts your confidence in your content. However, there’s a much simpler explanation going on behind the scenes, and it isn’t that your followers hate you!

Instagram is purging bots, fake accounts and spam accounts DAILY, and Creators seem to be getting the worst of it. For some reason, Chloe says, Creators are targeted a lot.

Instagram is not exactly sure when this started happening, but they’re trying to clean up the platform. So if your follower growth chart looks a little like a rollercoaster, take heart that it may be some bad actors vanishing – and being replaced with real, authentic followers.

Test It Out for Two Months, The Results May Shock You!

With all these scheduling strategies for your Instagram content, plus hashtag tips, you should see a difference in your reach and engagement on Instagram in two months!

That’s two months of committing to an Instagram schedule and sticking to it. Seems like forever, but the results may shock you! You can even get your followers in on the action and tell them about your new posting schedule. Get them ready and excited for your content to arrive on the right day and time!

Plus, with an Instagram scheduling tool like Tailwind, these strategies could literally not be easier to implement. From adding your preferred time slots and scheduling the right content to each, to searching for a mix of hashtags to expose you to new users with our Hashtag Finder tool, we’ve got you covered!

In fact, you can schedule so far in advance on Tailwind, you could set up all your feed posts for the next few months today, and spend the rest of your time creating Reels for your followers!

Want to try it out? Sign up for free today!

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Our team member Chloe had the chance to speak to Instagram about how to create content with the algorithm in mind. Read the latest insights here!

New Instagram Reels Algorithm Update (+ Tips!)

Instagram Reels on orange background

The launch of Instagram Reels turned heads around the world, and users flocked to the new medium to create engaging content for their followers!

But with the rise of Instagram Reels came a rise in rumors and theories about the Instagram Reels algorithm – we’re sure you’ve heard some of them!

If you’re confused about how Reels works, and how to get the most chance of reach and engagement from your content, we have good news.

On February 9, Instagram released some important clues about what will be prioritized on Reels – and what will be deprioritized by the algorithm! 

Also, we found a way to make your life (and social media management) a bit easier with our new feature. Now you can plan, schedule, and post Reels with Tailwind!

Read on to find out if your Reels content is in line with the new algorithm update, or if you might need to make some changes to your Instagram Reels strategy!

How the Instagram Reels Algorithm Works

The exact algorithm behind Reels remains a bit of a mystery, but we know a few things for sure.

Instagram is encouraging adoption of this new tool, which means Reels content is front and center on the platform right now.

Reels appear in larger squares on the Explore tab, are suggested to users in their feeds, and have the star spot on the Instagram navigation bar (right in the center!)

All of these features spell a big opportunity for uses to have their Reels content seen by existing followers – and potential followers!

However,  some types of Reels content now have priority, and some will start declining in the algorithm. We’re going over what you need to know in the next section!

Changes to the Instagram Reels Algorithm You Should Know About

A few changes to the algorithm and some new best practices from Instagram will help guide your Reels content strategy. Here are the most  important points:

Reels Reposted From Other Platforms Won’t be Recommended

And yes, this  includes TikTok videos! Here’s what Instagram had to say about it:

“We’ve heard that low video quality reels (i.e.blurry due to low resolution) or content that is visibly recycled from  other apps (i.e. contains logos or watermarks) makes the Reels experience less satisfying.

So, we’re making this content less discoverable in places like the Reels tab.”

Humor and Entertainment Will Be Recommended

This one should come as less of a surprise, but after surveying users and observing interactions with recommended Reels, Instagram is doubling down on engaging, light and humorous Reels.

“People tell us they want to see entertaining, funny, and interesting content in places like the Reels tab, and we’ve gotten better at recommending that.”

Heavy Text Reels Are Out

Like the recycled content we mentioned before, Instagram has hinted that Reels content made primarily of text over the images won’t be as likely to be recommended. This applies to other formatting styles too, like videos shot in horizontal mode, and videos with borders around them.

Tips to Make Reels Content That the Algorithm Likes

So now that you know some of the confirmed changes to the way the Reels algorithm operates, here’s some tips from Instagram on how to make Reels content that is more likely to  be recommended!

Make Reels that Are Entertaining and Fun

Use your Reels content to inspire a laugh, a smile, surprise and delight or has an unexpected twist. Even if you’re someone who likes to post tutorials and recipes, consider a humorous slant for your Reels content – and save the in-depth explainers for Posts and IGTV!

Make Reels That Are Inspiring

In this tip, Instagram clarifies “start a trend that others can easily participate in.” That makes sense when you see how popular Instagram challenges are, with many users making their own  versions of popular Reels prompts.

When approaching content this way, think of a viral factor to your content. What can you challenge other users to recreate themselves? Look to current Reels and TikTok trends for inspiration.

Make Reels With All the Creative Tools At Your Disposal

Reels is equipped with text options, filters, camera effects and music! Use all of these when possible in your Reels content.

And if you can create a Reel directly in the app rather than uploading a video, this will make the editing process much easier!

Make Reels That Are Experimental!

Stories brought brands and Instagram users a little freedom away from their feeds (Stories only live for 24 hours, while a Feed is forever!)  and Reels is an  opportunity to do the same thing.

Don’t feel so constricted by your brand or aesthetic that you don’t step out of the box and play around with new ideas or challenges. You never know when you might become the next big hit!

Try something new, be yourself and have fun!

Make Reels that Are Entertaining and Fun

Use your Reels content to inspire a laugh, a smile, surprise and delight or has an unexpected twist. Even if you’re someone who likes to post tutorials and recipes, consider a humorous slant for your Reels content – and save the in-depth explainers for Posts and IGTV!

Make Reels That Are Inspiring

In this tip, Instagram clarifies “start a trend that others can easily participate in.” That makes sense when you see how popular Instagram challenges are, with many users making their own  versions of popular Reels prompts.

When approaching content this way, think of a viral factor to your content. What can you challenge other users to recreate themselves? Look to current Reels and TikTok trends for inspiration.

Make Reels With All the Creative Tools At Your Disposal

Reels is equipped with text options, filters, camera effects and music! Use all of these when possible in your Reels content.

And if you can create a Reel directly in the app rather than uploading a video, this will make the editing process much easier!

Make Reels That Are Experimental!

Stories brought brands and Instagram users a little freedom away from their feeds (Stories only live for 24 hours, while a Feed is forever!)  and Reels is an  opportunity to do the same thing.

Don’t feel so constricted by your brand or aesthetic that you don’t step out of the box and play around with new ideas or challenges. You never know when you might become the next big hit!

Try something new, be yourself and have fun!

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Instagram recently dropped some hints about the Reels algorithm. Find out what changed, and some tips for making Reels that get engagement and reach!

Get Your Content Discovered With the Instagram Search Update

New Instagram search update on pink background

If you’ve gone to type anything in your Instagram search bar lately, you may have noticed things look a tad different.

Now when you type in a search term, magnifying glasses next to suggested searches pop up instead of the usual list of Instagram accounts.

And if you click on one of those magnifying glasses, it’ll take you to an explore page of content about that search term!

New Instagram search update

This is a big shift away from how search worked previously on Instagram and creates a new opportunity for getting discovered by wider audiences on the platform.

Let’s take a look at what changed, and what it could mean for you below!

Instagram Search 2.0

Before November 17, the closest we came to a keyword search was Instagram hashtags, usernames, and locations.

And even if you searched a particular hashtag, the results would be limited to posts that the hashtag was used on, or that location was tagged in.

Thanks to the new Search update on Instagram, you don’t actually have to include the keyword in your post for it to appear in a search stream. But, it certainly helps!

Not much is known about exactly how the Instagram algorithm decides what a post is about, but factors including the caption and elements of the image itself definitely play a part.

For example, a few posts not directly related to peacocks also appear in the search feed, with the only correlation being the colors in the videos and images.

And that’s not all – you’ll see an additional selection of possible categories and search terms at the top of the screen.

Here, you see “peacock photography, peacock cichlids” and “peacock painting” all suggested.

However, not all searches are supported. General interest topics can be searched for, but anything that falls outside of Instagram community guidelines is out.

Peacock search term on Instagram

If you type in a controversial or unsupported search, you’ll only see the regular Top, Accounts, Tags, and Places screen.

How to Get More Reach with the New Instagram Search

You may be wondering, what does this mean for me? The answer is, more opportunities to get your content found! That’s a welcome relief these days, as Instagram accounts complain of falling interaction and restricted hashtags.

Now, your content can automatically appear in relevant search streams – appearing where it needs to be at the time that people are searching for it.

And even though it seems you don’t actually have to put your search term in your caption, it’s a good idea to take the extra step.

Taking a few minutes to optimize your caption for Instagram search before you hit publish could mean your post is seen right away!

Presently, the new search feature is only available in English in Canada, the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.

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A major change to Instagram Search may make your content even easier to discover for casual Instagram users. Find out how it works here!

Making Instagram’s Algorithm Work for You

Making Instagram's algorithm work for youThere has always been speculation surrounding Instagram’s mysterious algorithm; and trying to separate the truth from rumors can be daunting – and time consuming.

But recently, Instagram put many of these rumors to rest and has spoken out about how the algorithm works; no more speculation about what appears in your follower’s feeds and why it appears there (or doesn’t)!

Let’s take a look at what Instagram shared with us all, and more importantly, how you can make Instagram’s algorithm work for you.

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How Instagram’s Algorithm Works – and How to Make it Work for You

In an unexpected move, Instagram revealed six ranking factors that determine where your content appears in your followers’ feeds: interest, recency, relationship, frequency, following, and usage. Of these, three are most important – and are those you can use to your advantage: interest, recency, and relationship. Let’s take a look at each and how you can use your new-found understanding to make your Instagram marketing even more effective.

Instagram Algorithm Factor #1 – Interest

Instagram uses machine learning to analyze user engagement to determine “interest” – what types of content people want to see.

The result? Content that Instagram thinks your followers are interested in appears higher in their feeds.

For instance, if someone often likes or comments on photos and videos containing dogs, they will see more dog posts in their feed. Each feed is personalized for every user!

How to Make it Work for You:  Find out What Your Followers are Interested In and Post That!

Analyze Your Content

Analyze your posts to see what generates the most conversation and engagement with your audience. Tailwind’s Post Inspector makes it easy to sort your posts based on number of likes, number of comments, and date published.

Reviewing posts that received a higher number of comments or likes will help you create more engaging content.

Tailwind’s Post Inspector provides valuable insights to small businesses and marketers

Besides analysis, you can always just ASK what interests your followers! Instagram recently launched “Questions” stickers for stories, which allows you to add a specific question to a story. Your followers can reply to your question right in the story. Use these questions to ask your followers what they’d like to see from you.

I ask my followers on my account @dananicoledesigns what they would like to know about blogging and SEO to feature their questions and my answers in my stories

Post more of what your followers are interested in and you’ll consistently reach more of them.

Instagram Algorithm Factor #2 – Recency

Although Instagram isn’t going back to publishing a chronological feed (there is just too much content!), the algorithm does take into account how recently a post was published.

Newer posts will have prioritization over older ones, so the home feed will be fresher.

How to Make it Work for You: Post At The Right Time – and Often

Since newer posts have a higher priority in the feed, you should post during a time when most of your followers are on the app.

You could figure out when the best time to post is to manually jot down the engagement you receive by testing different posting times. This can be tedious, however, and could change as your following grows!

Tailwind’s SmartSchedule can help you easily choose the optimal time to post each day so you can reach as many followers as possible. Our SmartSchedule makes personalized recommendations about when to post for your Instagram account.

Tailwind’s SmartSchedule helps you figure out the best times to post

Post Often

Instagram places a higher priority on newer content over older content, so post often to ensure your content isn’t getting lost in the feed.

But how often should you post?

Our study indicates you should post at least once a day to Instagram! Posting daily is easy with Tailwind’s Post Scheduler for Instagram. Feeling stuck for ideas? Start with the Instagram JumpStart – a great way to get in the habit of daily posting.

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Instagram Algorithm Factor #3 Relationship

Instagram also takes into consideration the relationship you have with each of your followers.

Followers who routinely interact with content from your account or who are tagged in photos with you are considered to have a stronger relationship with you. So, engagement = relationship!

How to Make it Work for You: Create Content That Generates Conversation and Interact Often

Because “interest” is determined by engagement, your content should above all encourage people to engage. Each “like” or comment signals Instagram to show more of your content to that follower.

How to Increase Instagram Engagement:

Through skillful use of captions. Try:

  1. Asking a question and replying to the answers you get (to encourage future engagement)
  2. Using emojis (emojis can increase your engagement by nearly 43%)
  3. Including a call-to-action such as “double tap to like”, “@mention a friend who would love this,” etc.

Instagram stories, Instagram Live, and IGTV also offer many ways to encourage audience engagement. For instance, you could create a story poll, which gives your audience a quick way to voice their opinion. Everyone likes to give an opinion! 

Once you get some engagement on your posts encourage your followers to continue interacting with your content by replying to their comments – even asking follow-up questions, which can keep the conversation going.

Make Use of User-Generated Content (UGC) 

User-generated content is content that your followers have created that features your products or services. When you repost user-generated content, you can legitimately tag yourself and that follower in a post together (never tag someone not involved just to elicit engagement or imply a relationship).

Not only does sharing UGC help you develop a relationship with your follower in the eyes of Instagram, it fosters trust with all your followers, AND you’re also cutting down on the time it takes to create content!

If you plan to repost content to your Instagram be sure to first ask for permission, tag yourself and your customers in their photo, and give proper credit in the caption.

@Starbucks uses UGC on their Instagram account

Tailwind’s Instagram Scheduler makes reposting photos to your own account incredibly easy (and Tailwind automatically includes attribution in the caption, so you don’t need to worry about forgetting it)!

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Busting Instagram Algorithm Myths

Along with addressing how the algorithm works, Instagram also came out to bust some persistent Instagram myths.

Instagram Myth #1 – The Dreaded Shadowban

First, the infamous shadowban is not real and Instagram isn’t purposely hiding any content because you used “banned” hashtags. Instagram busted this myth during a recent conference, so we can finally lay that rumor to rest!

Instagram Myth #2 – Switching from a Personal to a Business Account Will Decrease Your Reach

There has also been lots of speculation about whether or not using a personal account or business account makes any difference in your engagement rate. Many people switch back and forth to test which type of account provides the most engagement.

But Instagram has also confirmed this rumor is also untrue.

Business accounts offer analytical insights and give the ability to post directly to Instagram with approved schedulers (like Tailwind), so those who have been hesitant to make the switch from personal to business can now do so without worrying about engagement dropping.

Instagram Myth #3 – Instagram Rewards Users Who Use Certain Features

Instagram also noted that using different features of the app (such as Instagram Live and stories) will not in itself give an account any special priority in the feed.

Instagram Myth #4 – Instagram Favors Certain Post Formats

Instagram doesn’t increase or decrease reach depending on post type. If you notice the videos you post receive lower engagement, your audience likely isn’t that interested in watching your videos – but the lack of engagement is NOT a technical “penalty.”

Paying attention to content that receives higher engagement can help you continue to provide your audience with the types of content they want to see and want to engage with.

In Conclusion

Instagram opening up about their algorithm will really help creators understand how they can get their content seen in the feed!

The three main factors that Instagram considers when trying to place your content in the feed are:

  1. Interest
  2. Recency
  3. Relationship

With that in mind, you can increase your reach by:

  • Interacting with your audience
  • Posting frequently and at the right time
  • Creating content that encourages your followers to interact.

Isn’t it great when a platform gives us the formula for success? How are you going to change your posting habits now that you know a bit more about how Instagram’s algorithm works? What’s your Instagram plan? Let us know in the comments below!

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Making Instagram's Algorithm work for you