OWNING the Instagram Algorithm (Personal Branding 101)


What works to grow your Instagram following
today is completely different than what it was even just six months ago. So this is my account six months ago, and
I was kind of stagnant and stuck. And now, this is my account today. Everything I’m going to share with you in
this video is exactly how I have grown my account and more than anything, really grown
my engagement. It felt like I wasn’t even getting found in
the algorithm. It felt like only a tiny fraction of my audience
was able to see my posts six months ago, and now I’m racking up a lot more engagement on
my photos. In this video, I’m going to share the four
factors to owning the Instagram algorithm and my Post Less, Reach More strategy. Let’s bring it back to January 22nd of 2019
when Instagram released this statement. Instagram tweeted, “What shows up first in
your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well
as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of your posts, how often you use
Instagram, how many people follow you, et cetera.” “We have not made any recent changes to feed
ranking and we never hide posts from people you’re following. If you keep scrolling, you will see them all. Again, your feed is personalized to you and
evolves over time based on how you use Instagram.” Interesting thing to note here is that Instagram
actually hasn’t really changed at all. Their algorithm may seem like it’s gone through
ups and downs, but it really hasn’t changed all that much. It’s how we interact with it and how saturated
the platform became with using the same strategy over and over and over again. So the key really to owning the Instagram
algorithm is understanding the algorithm, and understanding that it’s pretty much remained
the same from day one. It’s just that we have to adapt how we use
it. So four things to note are: In the statement
it said, “Posts and accounts you engage with the most, timeliness of posts, how often you
use Instagram and how many people you follow.” I paid super close attention to those key
phrases within that statement and started implementing some changes on my account. And that’s really what led to skyrocketing
growth and engagement on my account. So let’s dive in to those four things. Let’s start from the bottom up. So the first thing is how many people you
follow. Now, before you go and follow like 1,500 people
at once, that’s not really what this means. It’s more so about looking at Instagram as
a business because it is a business after all, and the business is built on social interaction
and retention on the platform, meaning how long are people staying on the platform. And if you can get people to stay on the platform,
then Instagram is going to like you a lot as an account and benefit you in the algorithm. So a couple of things that I do. You may have noticed that in everyone of my
YouTube videos, I always say, take a screenshot. You can do that right now, and share it out
on Instagram and tag me. When you do that which a lot of you do, so
thank you, you tag me and it shows up in DMs and I’m able to comment back and forth with
you. And that shows Instagram that I’m keeping
people on the platform. I’m actually driving people to the platform
and I’m creating relationships within the platform which increases the retention, which
increases the worth really of the business. Because the more retention, the more people
on the platform, the more advertisers want to work with Instagram. That’s one big thing. Other little tricks to create real relationships,
and less about following more about relationships is DMing people out of the blue. So when people follow me, sometimes I’ll just
send them a voice mail and say, “Hey, welcome. How is it going,” and start a conversation
because again it’s keeping people on the platform, and I get to build real relationships. The other thing is in my stories, I’ll do
polls or I’ll ask questions and that spurs engagement with my account. So it’s showing Instagram that I’m actually
building a solid foundation with my audience and I care about building relationships as
opposed to just distributing content. So what happened was and the way that we were
interacting with Instagram that wasn’t working is we’re using it just to distribute content
and wait for the lights to roll in. That’s no longer how you can use Instagram. Now, you have to use it super actively. So, when you’re doing a post, ask questions
in the comments, get people to comment in your post. Comment back and forth with them. Create that sense of engagement, comment in
the DMs, create conversations in the DMs. Don’t sit back and wait because Instagram
wants you to show the platform that you’re actually creating retention. That’s tip number one to owning the algorithm. Tip number two, that was made very clear in
that statement from Instagram is timeliness of posts. That one little phrase really triggered me. When I started experimenting with about six
months ago was I stopped curating my feed. I stopped taking these picture perfect, highly
edited photos and I went for real, raw, in-the-moment photos, and guess what? Those photos and videos have 10x the engagement
what my perfectly curated feed had before. So you have to think about the facts here. Instagram is called Instagram for a reason. It is about capturing your life in videos
and photos in real-time, so right here, right now. That was the whole ethos and purpose of the
platform when it first started. So I’m not saying you have to do every photo
in the moment right now because you still want it to be quality and you want to have
a caption that really engages people. But having more real, raw, authentic-looking
photos is an amazing strategy today to get more engagement and get more reach with your
content. Think about the value of Instagram as a platform
itself and how we all used to use it when it first started which was taking photos wherever
we were, posting them up and not thinking much about it as opposed to spending like
five hours editing a photo and then posting it. It seems and appears based on my experiment
that Instagram is moving more so towards in the moment, raw, authentic moments. And that’s what’s really working in the algorithm
right now. The other part about that statement that was
a big clue was how often you use Instagram. The final thing I’ll say about timeliness
of posts is it’s also about the amount of time you keep people on your posts. You know it works as far as photo/video content
moving towards real, more authentic imagery, but the other thing is having longer formed
captions which is something that I’ve started experimenting with and seen an insane amount
of results from is a big factor. Why? Because if someone is sitting there reading
your caption, what does it mean? It means you’re keeping people on the platform
longer and also keeping people on your content, your post longer which tells Instagram that
this must be a really good piece of content and people are spending that much time on
it. The length of your captions is also really
important factor and storytelling, weaving stories into them, you can look at all of
mine to get some ideas and some prompts, but it’s a really good way to boost you in the
algorithm as well if you’re keeping your eyeballs on there far longer. I don’t know about you, but trying to think
of a really great photo, video and caption on a daily basis, I literally would get nothing
else done. And I used to use that strategy. I used to post every single day of the week. And I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. If you can do that and you have the bandwidth
to do that, great. But I’m about quality over quantity. I do the same thing here on YouTube. I would rather put out a piece of content
that I know is guaranteed to get reach because I know I’ve done every single step behind
the scenes to get that reach. When it says how often do you use Instagram,
it’s not saying you have to post every single day. I actually at this point, post the least I’ve
ever posted yet my account is growing the fastest it’s ever grown. And so this is where my post less reach more
strategy comes into play. What I mean by this is you want to be very
strategic and intentional with the post that go in your feed and post them in a way that
you know is going to get engagements. So I made a whole other video on this on how
I post Instagram with all the steps involved to max out your engagement and reach, so you’re
going to want to check that out afterwards. We’ll put it in the links below. But outside that, it’s about using stories. I don’t post on my feed every single day but
I pretty much use stories on Instagram every single day. Why? Well, as I said earlier, the more that I use
stories, the more I’m keeping people on the platform and the more I’m building the retention
on the platform for my audience which then shows Instagram that I have an engaged audience,
and that they should push me in the algorithm more. You don’t have to be posting every day in
your feed, but you should be active in some way, shape or form on your stories on a daily
basis. I also have this video on Instagram Story
Hacks which should you help you with that. We’ll link to that in the description below
as well. But just think about being on it, and not
necessarily having to post every day but being on it in an intentional way sharing value
even if it’s just on your stories or doing live streams because all of that leads to
people being on the platform longer, which of course Instagram loves. The final piece is post in accounts you engage
with, which was said in the statement as well. So there’s a couple of things here. One factor is getting people to engage with
your posts, obviously, which I mentioned. I made a whole video on exactly how to do
that to max out your reach with your posts, so check that out in the description below. The other piece here is that it’s again telling
you that if you want to own the Instagram algorithm, and Instagram is literally telling
you this in the statement if you paid really close attention. This is what I’ve been experimenting with
over the last six months and you’ve seen the growth that I’ve had, if you’re using the
platform actively. Meaning that on a daily basis, something that
I do is I go in and I comment and I like and I share content from other accounts, because
again, that tells Instagram that I’m actually using the platform. I’m actually active on it and I’m influencing
my audience because the things that I’m sharing, they’re getting more involved in and they’re
sharing that content on their stories, et cetera, et cetera. So it doesn’t mean you have to be on the platform
every single day. I usually map out 10 minutes a day to go in
and engage with accounts with the similar audience to mine, talk to people on the comments
of some of the posts and captions on these accounts to further my reach and to my build
more relationships and get people over to my account. But 10 minutes max, that’s all you need. Go and engage with other accounts outside
of your own because again, that’s keeping people in the platform. It’s keeping you in the platform and it’s
telling Instagram that they should favor your account because you are actually active and
you’re not sitting back waiting for people to come to you which is a strategy that just
does not work anymore. I wanted to share one final note with you
that I think should be really encouraging because when it comes to building your personal
brand, especially online, there are so many factors that go into it. And there’s a lot of advice out there to look
perfect, to have a perfect aesthetic, get a photo shoot done, et cetera, et cetera which
all of those things can work but I am noticing a big trend especially in my own experiments
and in my own account of reversing and going back to real, raw and authentic content as
I mentioned earlier and seeing the engagement spike when I did pieces like that. Another account that I follow who I love,
@JennaKutcher, she is a friend of mine and just an amazing human and content creator. And she did a post recently that shows you
just how fake and misleading Instagram can be and just how much people are craving real
and raw content, and her post went a little bit viral. So I want you to take a look at this. She’s basically showing that within a couple
of seconds, she was able to alter what her face looks like and her body looks like using
an app on her phone and then she could just share that altered version up on Instagram. And people went crazy over it because we all
know that this is happening and we’re all craving real. Don’t be afraid to show up as who you are
authentically, real, raw. That’s what people want now. We’re sick of seeing photoshopped, same aesthetic,
same preset, all day every day. It’s not interesting anymore. So take it from someone who has almost a million
followers on Instagram, Jenna, and the trends that she is moving towards. And for me too in doing these experiments,
I’ve really realized what the platform is favoring and it is favoring more authentic
content. I hope this helps you in building your personal
brand. Let me know what tip you’re going to take
from this, and actually start implementing. If you haven’t subscribed yet, make sure that
you hit that subscribe button and the notification bell to be notified when I post new videos
every single week. And I wanted to acknowledge our comment of
the week. I read your comments. I appreciate them so much. I know there’s million other channels out
there, so I love and appreciate that you are with me and watching this content and I hope
that it’s making a difference in your business, your brand and your life. That’s what I’m here to do. So thank you, thank you, thank you for all
of your comments. Thanks so much for watching as always and
I will see you in the next video.

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61 thoughts on “OWNING the Instagram Algorithm (Personal Branding 101)

  1. Thanks so much for watching! Let me know which tip you’re going to take from this video and start implementing right away 😊

  2. Love your video and account so much! I have a YouTube account as well, go check it out VictoriaClaireOfficial!

  3. Love this! Instagram is such a mysterious game to me. I just can't seem to get anywhere near the numbers I want no matter how many "hacks" I try. I love that Insta seems to be going toward more authentic, because that's what I'm all about! Keep it real people!

  4. Just subscribed to your channel. You have by far the most unique and practical tips to grow instagram. And thank you so much for these videos

  5. I really struggle with deciding what to post on my feed vs what to share in stories. How do you determine that?

  6. Your videos have literally been my education for starting up my platform on social media. I'm doing everything in reverse. I just spend the entire year away from social media and wrote my first book, finishing my third draft with my editor and now, I'm building my brand. Love your videos!!

  7. Interesting how the opinions and experiences based on what I read in the comments differ.

    Anyone who's interested in building each other up on IG: @janvierexo
    I follow back, like and comment on your pics so go ahead 💖

  8. Great video! Thanks for the Instagram tips. So excited to get these going on my page. LOVE the trend for RAW and AUTHENTIC on social media. It’s time for real humans to shine ✨

  9. I have generally kept my post's to a quality and tried to use stories everyday. In fact it's my story posting that has lead to the next phase of my social engagement and has gotten me so excited to create new content and engage. All of these are great points and it seems I won't have enough hours in the day. How to you balance properly and actively engage? It seems like the toughest test? Thanks…

  10. Using real and less polished posts I get, but what if you're on the platform as a photographer? Surely the quality of your image is then a huge part of the post??

  11. I’ve loved and played with cameras and photography before any bandwagon happened, and before I really even knew what “photography” was.. (my Dad had old camera equipment from when he was younger, he just never became a photographer) and it makes me sad that when I talk about being a photographer, literally every millennial in the room says “Oh me too!” It’s so saturated now, and “abused.” It almost makes me cringe. I just feel like so many people are becoming “photographers” because of Instagram and phone camera special effects, that it’s drowning out the ones that have always had the passion, and the call. I only started throwing myself into trying to make an income with my pictures a couple years ago. That was never a possibility to me, it seemed to good to be true. Social media is making it easier than ever nowadays though, if you just figure out all of these ALGORITHMS. I get confused, because I know making a social media income off of photography, and to start freelance work, you typically need a decent sized following (eyeballs looking at your content) for anywhere to want to contract with you and pay you. I post sincere posts that I absolutely love, and put my passion into, and I get like maybe 20 likes. But Debbie over in the corner takes a flip phone quality selfie turned at an awkward angle with a peace sign thrown up and she gets 482 likes, and has 8k followers. Are they bought? Idk. It just confuses me sometimes. Because when people see my work, I get super happy. Photography makes me happy nonetheless, but I definitely want to gain some influence and reach, and make money off of it now eventually. I feel like I follow the algorithms well, but I can’t get very much engagement. 🤷🏼‍♀️ If anybody would like to critique my photos and let me know what they think, please. I would appreciate the love (or hate.)
    @sierrarees

  12. This was eye opening and amazing! I'm off to completely change (okay not completely, but definitely change) the way I approach instagram. I love that it all makes sense!

  13. Sunny, your videos with no for real are the most fruitful advice and most helpful on how to use Instagram !!!! thank you … this is my Instagram I would love that you take a look on it and maybe give me the honor to follow me 🙂 @ussama.saleh.binmiskeen

  14. Instagram is extremely draining. I don’t know how you can live life, be on Insta, Fb, YT, create content and allll the other things like keep genuine relationships w the ones you follow. Algorithms are stupid and messed up!

  15. Hi! I’m a new user ( for business) but I have multiple problems with my link in the bio. Can you advise what to do? Thanks second question…honestly I tried all the organic strategies but when the account is small the problem is a vicious cycle…this account is small therefore I don’t follow… the only ‘bulking strategy that woks so far is follow foe follow. So stupid but honesty the only one that is helping me in reaching a ‘credible’ size.. suggestions? Thanks so much for your content…

  16. I think you are so amazing! Your videos have helped me so much! I'm learning so much. I'm very new to this world but very excited to be getting started finally. The tip am taking away is commenting and engaging in other pages that are similar to mine. Thank you Sunny!

  17. Sunny, I'm definitely going to work on daily IG Stories and check out your IG Story Hacks.
    You were my first Instagram guru back in the day and I love your energy & your content! ❤️❤️❤️

  18. Sunny, I have recently discovered your channel and absolutely love the content – i have a question for you i want to sign up for flick for Instagram tag research but says i need instagram business when i go to my account i have the option for business or creator which one do you use and which one is better ? I hope you see this kind of at a stop sign until i can get this answer ! Thanks in advance

  19. Awesome video Sunny, thank you! I’ll be intentionally setting aside 10 minutes a day to engage and add value on other related accounts. I’ll also start to engage more within DMs on those related accounts. Thank you!

  20. Love your feed, I am just starting out all over again to learn as much as I can about branding, social media so far of all the feeds I have seen I feel like yours is the best, its informative without being overwhelming, your knowledge of the subject matter is great and inspiring thank you so much for posting this for us.

  21. Thanks sunny! Such a great tips! Really appreciate this. I’ve def seen a decline and I find that when I post less I actually do reach more! It’s nuts.

  22. Step one: Be a female
    Step two: Be attractive
    Step three: Sell a dream
    Step four: Profits
    I think I got it down! Thanks! 😋

  23. Thank you so much for this video!! I've watched several videos now and learned so much in a short period of time! Great content across the board!!

  24. The tip I’m taking away is definitely engaging more. I’ve always felt I had to post a lot to reach ppl but recently have just been engaging more and I see the difference! Great video. Thanks for the advice!

  25. Personal branding on IG!
    1. People you follow
    • Drive people that follow you to engage with you on the platforms
    • People follow you, welcome them ‘thank you for following’ etc.
    • Ask people to comment and create conversations in dm (create retention)
    2. Timelines of posts
    (Raw moments and pictures might work more instead of perfect looking pictures) – maybe every now and then show that side of you to get more engagements “INSTA(NT)gram”
    3. How often you use instagram
    • Have longer captions – if they read it means people is spending more time on your page
    • Story telling
    • Quality > Quantity (More IGstories > Posts)
    4. Posts and Accounts you engage with
    • Like and share other accounts and posts to engage with others’ audiences that is similar to yours (10mins a day is good enough)

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