Instagram tips

Instagram: Insta-blame culture (and why we should avoid it)

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Instagram’s getting a load of stick at the minute: They’re shadow-banning us. They’re making us invisible. They’re de-valuing our hashtags and therefore us!

It’s much easier to blame others than to accept responsibility when things aren’t going right. We come up with clever, trick-the-system ideas. We try to score extra points by using fewer hashtags. Or we group together in comment pods.

We try anything that might send a big fat F*** YOU to Instagram and its daft new rules.

But instead of looking for somebody or something else to blame, and inevitably projecting negativity onto others, we could take control and figure out what’s really wrong. We could focus on what we can do better.

My Instagram account is growing steadily, around 10,000 new followers a month, and my engagement remains consistently high.

I haven’t come up with any clever ways to trick the system. I haven’t reduced or changed my hashtags. I don’t use comment pods. Here are a few ways you can take control and avoid Insta-blame culture.

Comment pods Vs traditional engagement

I’ve read mixed reviews about comment pods. Some people have likened pods to “brutal popularity contests straight out of Mean Girls”. Some have made new friends through pods, which is great.

Pods appear to make liking and commenting a responsibility, instead of a choice. Surely a like or comment from a non-pod member means more? By forcing the numbers, could comment pods be offering a false sense of achievement?

What can we do?

People are using comment pods to increase their engagement. Maybe the way to increase engagement is much simpler: engage more.

No secret group, no rules, no pressure. Just good old-fashioned communication. Talk to our followers, reply to their comments. Make time to go through our feed and comment on posts by people we follow.

That way, we can’t go far wrong, surely?

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In light of the shadow-banning/hashtag algorithm frenzy, Instagram released a statement telling us they were working on the hashtag problems, and that we should concentrate less on hashtags and more on creating better content.

They’re not saying stop using hashtags, they’re not important, but rather if you’re engagement has dropped, instead of blaming Instagram or hashtags or anything else out of your control, take responsibility for the things we can control: our content.

Instagram limit hashtags to 30. We’re allowed to use 30. That’s 30: three-zero. There are at least 30 hashtags for our aesthetic and target audience. Hashtags are really important for audience growth on Instagram.

Using, say, five community-oriented hashtags is far better than using forty popular hashtags. But using thirty hashtags that fit our aesthetic and target audience will drive engagement. So use them.

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Make better stuff

Hashtags are great for exposure, but they can’t make bad content better. But content is about more than just nice pictures.

It’s about the work you put in.

It takes time to make good content.

Without it, without engaging with people and using hashtags effectively, we won’t grow our audience.

I write more about my process and making better pictures here.

How are you being affected by Instagram’s changes? Are you noticing changes in your engagement? Have I missed anything you feel is important to the debate?

7 thoughts on “Instagram: Insta-blame culture (and why we should avoid it)”

  1. I’m not sure what’s going on at the moment. I was growing steadily for a long time, but then it slowed to a crawl and now it’s actually started to reverse and I lose more followers every day than I gain. I feel like I’m trying to be smart about hashtags by using the best ones for me, I’m trying to engages as much as I can, and I *hope* my content is good enough. But truthfully I feel very stuck. I don’t know what’s going on.

    1. Hiya, Freya. I’m sorry to hear that. Your photography is gorgeous – I’ve been following you for a long time. I suppose each user is different and we all appeal to different audiences – and some of those audiences may be bigger than others. My account has grown more rapidly since I started to post stuff at home – even though my account became popular when I was travelling. So maybe it’s a wider audience thing. There have definitely been a lot of changes since I started using Instagram, but I guess it’s stuff out of our control. All we can do is post the stuff we love and remain an active part of our communities.

  2. Hello Carolyn ! Thank’s for writing about this ! I’m really happy to see that not all of us IG “nerds” are affected by the algorithms ! That it is still possible to grow and be sucessful despite it ! My engagement has dropped severely. I’m now thrilled by 1000 likes, before it was normal for me with up to 5-6000 likes. I’m also loosing more followers then I gain …. I’ve been feeling a bit sad about this for a while now, but …. I like my feed better now than before, I’m more happy with my images and work then before, so I’ll just keep on working with my pictures and captions, and enjoy the pleasures that photography gives me !

  3. I agree, and I actually love that companies such as Instagress are being shut down, it’s making Instagram a much more authentic community! I used to get dozens of comments on my posts by people who clearly never actually saw or read them, and I’m so glad that’s starting to wane. I’m over the bots and the “trying to beat the system.” It’s not supposed to be a system. It’s supposed to social!

  4. I agree and I am so glad that Instagram has started cracking down on companies such as Instagress. I used to get dozens of comments on my posts by people who clearly never saw or read them. What’s the point? Instagram isn’t supposed to be a system to beat, it’s supposed to be a community of people. Organic growth is the only way to me. It means people are following you to be connected to you. Not to try to use you to get more followers or engagement.

  5. I am glad to see it’s not just me, others seem to be losing followers too, I thought it was something I was doing or not doing. Well, I try not to take it personally but I do work hard at all the things. But in the end, I just love the platform and will carry on!

  6. I really like your positive message with regards to this. Yes, the algorithm is a pain in the ass and yes, as much as it shames me to admit this, seeing my followers and likes diminish can be upsetting. But, I think it has made me think more about what I post, why I post and the people I interact with. Being more thoughtful about this platform can only be good for actually creating an honest account and content. I’m fairly new to your account, but it’s safe to say I’m in love! 💕

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