The current world of Instagram
Algorithms, pods, and shadow bans
The world of Instagram is a very different place today to what it once was.
It used to be a place where people could go to share visual information and meet with likeminded people a world way. It was a way to express creativity and ideas in what grew to become an incredibly accepting and supportive online community.
For me personally, it lead me from being a food blogging hobbyiest, to finding a passion for photography – specifically food photography – and having a place to share my work and attract potential clients, as well as connect with other photographers to share advice, ask questions, and give and receive support and encouragement. It was also the platform I used to launch the Food Photography + Styling Guides and attract an audience back when they launched mid-last year.
But the Instagram of today is a different world entirely. There is now an algorithm in place which dictates what you see, pods which potentially allow users to boost their posts without the intervention of any ‘bots’ or buying likes (though they also might have negative consequences? See below…) and shadow banning which can make it incredibly hard for new users to find you.
THE INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM
The algorithm is basically some clever logic in the background that works out which posts to display in your feed. It looks at a number of factors such as accounts you interact with, and popularity of posts to determine what is displayed.
Prior to the algorithm being implemented, you would see posts appear in a chronological order, which made it a lot easier to keep up with posts as and when they were posted. The changes have made this a little more difficult – especially for smaller accounts starting out.
I won’t go into it too much here as the algorithm has been a dirty word in the Insta-realm for nearly a year now, but if you want to find out a little more the article below is quite comprehensive.
Read more about the algorithm here…
Pods are private groups of Instagram users that have a group message in the IG chat area, and comment when they release a new post so that the others in the group could go and comment and like that post to boost engagement and visibility.
I have mixed feelings about the pods. For a start, they also take up quite a bit of time – to get the most out of them you need to like and comment on everyone’s posts immediately, so that this is reciprocated when you post.
They also feel a little cliquey. I’ve had a few people contact me privately asking what they’re all about, how do you get in one… I was invited into one a little while back, and because it’s not mine I feel like it’s not my place to invite anyone else in, but it also makes me feel a bit like it’s high school all over again with elite groups. I have felt bad seeing others comment that they aren’t members of a pod, and it feeling a little left out – I personally loved Instagram when it was one big happy family, so I’m still not sure how I feel about these pods…
I’m also not convinced that Instagram wouldn’t be doing their hardest to put a stop to them or try and penalise people who are in pods… Of course, this is just my opinion, I don’t have any proof on this one, just a bit of friendly speculation… 🙂
And lastly, I’m not even sure whether or not they actually work… If you’re in one, I’d love to hear your thoughts?
Shadow bans are a relatively new thing. In a nutshell, this is where Instagram ‘bans’ your accounts so that they don’t show up in the feeds for the hashtags you are using. This seems to be part of Instagrams grand plan to encourage us all to pay for advertising which WILL be seen, apparently (although I can’t say I’ve ever had much luck with the few attempts I’ve had at it!)
My account has been directly affected by the shadow ban, with nearly all of my recent posts being hidden form the hashtag feeds. Note that I did use to have a template for hashtags (that is, I kept a list of all the hashtags I felt relevant to my usual posts in the Notes section of my phone and would copy and paste them into the comments for each new post). I’ve stopped doing this now, though it doesn’t seem to have changed my engagement much as yet. Will keep experimenting!
Read more about shadow bans here…
What to do, what to do?
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any clear-cut solutions to any of these issues. It seems the algorithm is here to stay, and whether or not the shadow banning will stick around… who knows!
There have been a load of suggestions made to combat these – such as pods to circumvent the algorithm, and changing the way you hashtag to beat the shadow ban, but the jury’s still out on how well each of these actually work.
While there may not be an immediate solution, I think it’s important to remember back to why we all came to Instagram in the first place.
- Keep being creative, keep experimenting
- Try something new! This is always scary as we feel we may lose followers, but if someone is going to unfollow you for one post that’s slightly different to your normal content, is that really a follower you want anyway?
- Support the community! Instagram has always had an incredibly supportive community, and I think we need to draw on that more than ever! Share others work that you like or their projects to help them along (you can do this by resharing, mentioning it in your own posts, as well as in your Instagram stories. Make sure you tag them in the story though so that others can easily navigate to their page and find their content)
And in light of this, I have created a little something for you all that will hopefully help to bring a little love back to the IG we once loved…
The Instagram Inspiration 12 day course is something I created to help inspire those that have lost their inspiration, to teach those that want to learn, and to encourage those that really feel they could use some support right now.
To make it accessible to everyone, the course is 100% free!
You can find out more about it and sign up here –
Instagram Inspiration course #alittleIGlove
Sharing is caring!
With all the changes to social media, it means it’s much harder to reach people organically, and therefore if you liked this post and you think others would to, please share it with them. Likewise, if you’re planning on doing the challenge and think others would benefit from it to, please let them know 🙂
What about you? Have you been impacted by the algorithm and shadow bans? I’d love to know your thoughts and any other solutions you may have – comment away below x
Sign up to for exclusive content and special offers