The Instagram algorithm is invisible and hard to understand so I have drawn a number of rules from my personal experience. Following the rules gives you peace of mind but there are differing experiences and the algorithm often changes. There are Bookstagrammers who can tell when it changes but I cannot. What works for one account does not work for another.
The Instagram algorithm is especially upsetting for Bookstgrammers because we are not social media professionals, nor photo artists. We are not bloggers. We are not part of the comment pods like fashion and lifestyle bloggers. We are on Instagram because we love books and have found a community to share our love with. I would not be posting on Instagram if it was not for books. Most of us want our book reviews to reach people with whom we can discuss books and our ability to so is being reduced. If a photo does not get enough likes in certain timeframe no one knows about the post. It is therefore important to attempt to understand the algorithm to maximize the chances of posts reaching your audience.
I have noticed that some of the older popular Bookstagram accounts are no longer increasing their follower numbers. The accounts which are growing are less than 2 years old starting after the new algorithm began. These new account owners have no idea what a different world previously existed. Before the changes you could hold a giveaway and gain many new followers in the following week. It was that easy. For us old Bookstagrammers stuck in the old happy days we find it difficult to change. The older your account, the more of your follower accounts get deleted. Many people have stopped using old accounts which Instagram then deletes.
Here is an algorithm checklist for Bookstagrammers:
1. Avoid editing the caption as long as likes are being received. What should you do when you have made a spelling mistake? I recommend not to edit but leave it for a day or two.
2. Make sure all the hashtags you use are relevant to the photo. Instagram looks at the photo content and if the hashtags are not relevant it will reflect negatively. Use as many hashtags as possible. The more you use the more exposure you get. Instagram does not punish you for using too many. The maximum number allowed is 30.
3. Work on big trending topics. One of my most liked photos was about Virginia Woolf posted on her birthday. Seasons, Christmas, Easter, Halloween themes attract a lot of interaction. Any important events in your life are worth mentioning.
4. Who you contact via direct mail does not affect the algorithm. Instagram understands where the traffic is coming from. Telegram and WhatsApp comment groups are not working anymore.
5. The Algorithm loves consistency. Using the same filter is not enough. Be consistent in what you post. If you think posting just book photos is being consistent, it is not. You need to post only a certain type of book photo. Be creative but not too creative.
6. You might cheat the algorithm with buying likes and followers but it is not a good idea. People notice the fast change in numbers and that your likes are coming from fake accounts. If you live in Saudi Arabia and all your likes are from fake Russian accounts people notice. If you get 500 likes from accounts who do not follow you in the first 5 minutes after uploading, people notice.
7. Post stories before and after posting a photo. The algorithm takes into account all actions of engagement. The more engagement, the more likely your posts will show up in your follower’s feed. Make people watch your stories longer. The Algorithm likes any action in your stories. Use hashtags and location tags as it makes a difference. If people want to follow you they can find you that way.
8. Be careful when you repost a photo. The algorithm understands when it is a repost especially when the repost is your own photo. It probably will not get as many likes as the original post
9. Call to action. If people react to your photo the algorithm takes it as a sign of interest. Encourage people to take action. The Instagram algorithm calculates the amount of time spent viewing your photo to determine its worthiness.
10. Last but not least, post good content. For example ask artistic people how you can improve your photography. Take a photography class or watch YouTube.
These are a few things you can keep in mind when posting photos on Instagram. There are many more and many you will learn from your own experiences.