I Questioned Someone Who Works At Instagram About The Algorithm & How To Beat It

04 May, 2017
Cosmopolitan's Self Made Summit
Photo by Kaye Ford.

A few weekends ago I was invited to attend Cosmopolitan's first ever 'Self Made Summit' with Very, which was a day dedicated to budding (mainly female) entrepreneurs, digital nomads and blogger types with lots of scheduled panels with industry experts, food, networking, beauty pop-ups, more food, business advice, and oh did I mention food?! Despite having run this blog the past six years and spending the past three working within digital marketing and PR, I was still eager to attend as I'm always keen to further my knowledge within both blogging and marketing. Plus, it gave me a great excuse to wake up early on a Saturday morning when I would usually be nursing a hangover.

The event was held in London's rather fancy County Hall in Westminster, just around the corner from the London Eye. The day began with a helping of a breakfast buffet followed by Cosmo's editor-in-chief, Farrah Storr, host a keynote interview with fashion mogul, Olivia Palermo. Notable points that came up during the interview were Olivia's interview were the importance of developing boundaries between work and business, being able to rely on a loyal team to have your back and the charm of working with just a pen and notepad in the digital age.

'From Blog To Brand':

Next up was my first panel of the day which was titled: 'From Blog To Brand'. The panel's lineup consisted of ex-Made In Chelsea personality turned jewellery designer, Rosie Fortescue, notable blogger, author and Youtuber, Fleur de Force, blogger and Real Techniques makeup brushes founder, Sam Chapman,  and Sedge Beswick from global influencer and social agency, SEEN Connects. As a blogger (and also someone who works in outreach), it was insightful to hear what exactly an influencer agency looks for in a potential partner when planning a collaboration. It was unanimously agreed across the panel that a lot of influencers nowadays will grasp at any opportunity sent their way despite it not suiting their own demographic or niche. It can be tempting for smaller bloggers to work with brands who are ill-suited to make a quick buck, but it can be damaging to your blog's brand in the long run.

There was also talk of influencers creating unattainable lifestyles on social media with designer handbags by the truck load and jetting off to holiday resorts every other week, when their humble beginnings were built upon 'Primark Hauls'. Whilst this isn't something that bothers me personally (let's face it, I'm more interested in reading about someone's £1 charity shop find anyway), as I believe it's fine for your content to change as your lifestyle does, it seems there was some concern of portraying an unattainable lifestyle to the majority of their followers.

'Make Me Famous: The Power of Social Media to Launch a Million Pound Brand':

My second panel of the day after a quick coffee stop was based around strengthening your brand through the power of social media, with a panel that included the very funny Louise Pentland from Sprinkle of Glitter, well-known author and fitness blogger, Clean Eating Alice (who actually hosted a group workout with Adanola I'd been to a fortnight before), MIC's Hugo Taylor who founded his sunglasses company, Taylor Morris Eyewear and Instagram's own Jen Rowan who works alongside small, developing businesses.

As a social media manager by day, and using social media to promote by blog by night, this was the panel I was most eager to attend. Most of the talk was specifically centred around tailoring your Instagram channel for your brand rather than any other social media channels. A point that was emphasised quite a bit was building a theme around your Instagram content, which is actually a social media 'rule' that I personally loathe. I've found myself sucked into the theme scheme in the past, but it led to me completely falling out of love with Instagram as a creative platform. As someone who has grown up studying as an artist (yep, I could paint once), I've always been a messy creative and far from a perfectionist, and I think this falls into my Instagram habits too; I'm just far too lazy to manage a theme.

At the end of the panel, I approached Sarah to ask her the one question that's on everyone's minds right now regarding Instagram; What the heck is the deal with the new algorithm and how do you beat it?

As I expected, Sarah gave me that knowing smile as she had heard this question multiple times before. It's become one of the biggest hurdles that a lot of bloggers and independent businesses have faced in the past few months with some abandoning the platform altogether.

Instagram's algorithm works similar to that of Facebook's algorithm, (in case you didn't know Instagram was acquired by Facebook just before the algorithm update was rolled out), which only shows you the updates of the people you interact with on a regular basis - have you noticed that you probably don't have a clue what Doris from high school is up to now despite being Facebook friends? It also works to draw out content and new stories that Facebook feels will personally interest you, and discards the rubbish that it feels like you won't want to see.

She also emphasised of making the most of Instagram's analytics and posting during peak periods when your followers are online. Instagram Insights are only available via business accounts, so if you're still using a personal profile then it may be worth switching over to benefit from these statistics you can have to hand on your posts.

Sarah was advised that you should experiment with your visuals to see which content performs better for you; if you post something and it totally flops, then learn from it and assess what went wrong. Her advice does kinda come into play when I assessed my Instagram feed - my following was built initially on fashion focused posts, but my feed has grown into much more than this in the past couple of years. It's noticeable how much better my Instagram posts do tend to perform when they include myself as the subject, as opposed to what I may be eating that day. Whilst I'm thoroughly chuffed my face gets more attention than a burger, it is sometimes frustrating that when I do branch away from fashion, my posts don't perform as well despite the time and effort put in.

Have you tried anything to conquer the dreaded Instagram algorithm yet? If so, what have you found to have worked or not worked?



  1. Some nice bits of advice here! Especially the whole experimenting with visuals!

  2. Found this really interesting to read and I would love to have sat in on some of these panels! I personally haven't found a way to navigate the new Instagram algorithm yet, in the trial and error stage I am still completely on 'error'!

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

  3. Love the sound of this summit - some amazing speakers too! I've noticed I get a MUCH better reaction on IG when I post in the evening, which is obviously the time when my followers are most active. Definitely makes a difference if you can pay a bit of attention and figure out the patterns. x

  4. The summit sounds amazing! I've definitely noticed my followers are around early evening! Probably when they've just put the kids to bed!

  5. This sounds like a great event. I'm a bit stuck on Instagram at the moment and rapidly falling out of love with it.

  6. Oh I loved this post - so interesting. I have no clue with Instagram other than I just love it! Kaz

  7. This sounds like such a great event with a nice variety of people in attendance! In all honesty, I haven't really noticed the Instagram algorithm. I still see posts from people I follow from high school that I've never interacted with once and I seem to be one of the few people whose engagement has actually increased. Instagram themes however, do really annoy me. I don't mind if that's what someone wants to do but I feel like the "everything must be white" theme needs to die out already. I want to see creativity on Instagram, not the same white background with the same props but a different product over and over again.

  8. I heard so much about this Cosmo event and I'm gutted I wasn't able to go. The Instagram algorithm is so annoying!

  9. I found this so interesting. I am not enjoying Instagram atm I love to use it to share my photos but hate that my feed will now show me things that are days old on top rather than most recent as I feel I miss so much and I really wish you could filter to change so that you can view more recent posts rather than just those they think you want to see!

  10. It is important to be aware here that there is a lot more to Instagram than just the number of followers you can acquire increase your followers on instagram

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