July 24, 2016

How To Handle the New Instagram Algorithm

Sydne Style gives blogger tips on how to grow your instagram followersWelcome to my new weekly column: Sydne Style Real Talk. I’ve been wanting to start this for a while now. I get so many questions about blogging that I thought it would be great to have a space where we could chat about obstacles we’re facing and how to overcome them. Every week, I’ll be introducing a new topic from social media to branding to dealing with negative comments and keeping your momentum going. If you have any specific themes you want covered let me know! Given all the recent changes, I figured Instagram would be the perfect place to start.

Instagram’s New Algorithm

Like many of you, I was completely freaked when Instagram decided we could no longer see our feeds in chronological order. And I’ve certainly felt the aftermath. I reached a plateau for a while, where I wasn’t getting new likes or increasing comments. To say I felt discouraged is an understatement. I put so much work into my feed and now people weren’t seeing my pics! But you have to change with the times. So I brainstormed with my fellow bloggers on what we could do to keep growing. And here are some ideas we came up with:

What Content Should I Be Posting?

The most important part of Instagram is the content you post. When I first started over 260 weeks ago, I wasn’t worried about editing and perfection. I mean my first photo was a DIY mani in bad lighting! Instagram used to be about showing people instant snaps of your life, something Snapchat has now taken over. Before the algorithm, I became obsessed with my feed. I saw other blogger having consistent color stories and beautiful layouts. But now, it’s not just what your overall feed looks like. Every. Single. Picture. Counts.

My friend Jacey did a great post on what people want to see in their feeds. Overall, the feedback was pretty consistent. People want more personality and less perfectly curated editorial shots. It’s a tricky balance. Sometimes I find my simple outfit photos do best while other times, a gorgeous shot of a gown flowing in the wind on a beach gets the highest engagement. I’m trying to mix it up these days with more everyday, relatable outfit pics and less stylized shots.

One little tip I have about this change: unlike many bloggers I don’t have an Instagram husband (that topic will be coming up soon!). So every month, I go on a day date with a friend and we snap pics of each other in outfits that we plan on wearing later in the month. That way, if I don’t have someone around to take photos of me one day, I can pull from my archive and it’s the same outfit you see on Snapchat. I’ve also tried to overcome feeling embarrassed by asking strangers to take my photos. When I was on my own in NY, a stranger snapped this shot for me and I ended up loving it!

When Should I Be Posting?

With the new algorithm, timing is everything. I never used to pay attention to when I posted. I would just upload whenever I had a cute photo. I learned about Iconosquare while I was on a blogger trip earlier this year. It was a game changer. You can see times and days your posts get the highest engagement. Now, Instagram has an Insights feature as well. My new strategy is every morning I go onto Insights and see when my posts perform best that day. I generally post 3-4 photos/day so I’ll set a reminder on my phone to upload at the those times. Personally, I find around 8am, 1pm and 7pm do best on average. But I definitely recommend doing some analyzing of your own since everyone is different.

What Are Some Ways to Increase Engagement?

In addition to content and posting schedule, engagement is now key to growing your Instagram following. I’ve tried numerous strategies and be forewarned: they’re all exhausting! In the past month my hand has been cramping because I feel like I’m always on my phone! First, I started by turning on post notifications. Big mistake. It’s incredibly annoying to have your phone constantly flashing when you’re trying to do work. Next, I tried creating a list of Instagrammers I wanted to follow. I literally had a spreadsheet (yes, I’m very Type A). I would go on my spreadsheet three times a day and consistently comment on the same people. That worked really well but it’s very time consuming.

Another strategy is direct message groups. Many bloggers have groups in direct messages. Every time you upload a photo you share it to that group and everyone is encouraged to like and comment on the photo. This works very well, but the problem is you’re allowed to have 15 people in a group. I’m hoping Instagram changes that.

So I don’t become overwhelmed, I’ve decided to join a couple groups and set aside 5 minutes twice a day to scroll through my feed and comment. I’ll keep you updated on the process.

After you get people to engage with you, it’s important to respond to them. This was another lesson I learned and these days I try to respond to each and every person who leaves a comment on my photos (thank you to everyone who does!). I’m also trying to ask questions in some of my posts so I can learn more about my Instagram family and they can learn more about me.

Does My Overall Feed Still Matter?

Yes. Your feed is what new followers look at first. While the most important part is each individual photo you want to make sure your overall feed reflects your personality. I’m not saying you have to have the perfect color scheme (I know for me that’s way too much to think about!). But I try to mix up my layout with outfits and my interests, like my favorite foods and my rescue pup, #bunnybell. I use a free app called UnUm so I can see what a photo will look like in my feed before posting. It’s been a game changer!

So let’s get the conversation flowing…

  • What type of Instagram photos do you love best?
  • What type of Instagram photos do you not care about?
  • When do you generally look at Instagram?
  • What are your tips for keeping up with the new Instagram changes?

Photo by Jodee Debes

Dress: H&M (in store but similar here)
iPhone case: Sonix
Rings: Charming Charlie
Nails: Essie “Coconut Cove”

I hope you guys enjoy this new Sunday column and I can’t wait to chat with you about all these topics!

Leave a Comment


  1. ChicBargainista commented:

    Thanks for this thoughtful post. I’ve been using Iconosquare for a while, it helps. There’s really no science though about what people will like , as you pointed out here. Nice piece Sydney.

    Published 7.24.16 Reply
    • Sydne Summer commented:

      Glad you liked it! I know, it’s so crazy. But love hearing people’s thoughts about what they like now!

      Published 7.24.16 Reply
  2. The Budget Babe commented:

    Love this series!

    Published 7.25.16 Reply
    • Sydne Summer commented:

      Yay! Happy to hear!

      Published 7.26.16 Reply
  3. realshortshorty commented:

    Super helpful. I didn’t know about all the latest dashboard options!

    Published 7.25.16 Reply
    • Sydne Summer commented:

      So glad you found it helpful!

      Published 7.26.16 Reply
  4. Tess Felber commented:

    This is awesome and so helpful! I’ve been trying to really up my instragram game lately and I love the idea of the blogger groups- how would I find one to join?? I started commenting on a lot of photos per day and agree it works but does get exhausting! Thank you for sharing!
    xox Tess | Sequins are the New Black

    Published 7.25.16 Reply
    • Sydne Summer commented:

      Create one! Basically it’s a direct message group, and you can invite up to 15 instagram handles. I would suggest looking for people similar to your style and dm them and ask them if they’re interested in being part of a group you’re starting. Hope that helps!

      Published 7.26.16 Reply
  5. Love these tips Sydne! I’m right there with you in trying to figure out what works best, but I completely agree that taking time to engage with other/similar accounts and building rapport with them goes a long way.

    Haven’t thought a DM group, but I’m headed to a conference in a few weeks – gonna have to pitch that idea to a few of the ladies I’ll be down there with.

    Published 7.25.16 Reply
  6. Chris commented:

    This is an interesting issue, and I understand why it is so much of a concern for bloggers. I follow just over 800 people/companies and I would guess that close 80% of them are bloggers or related. I try to scan down through my feed four or 4 times a day, more or partially more if things are slow. I know that doesn’t get me to every one of everyone’s post but when the alternative is unfollowing people…

    I got tired very quickly of people saying “turn on your notifications” when the IG feed change was first brought to light and I don’t view that as a solution either.

    Published 7.29.16 Reply
    • Sydne Summer commented:

      I agree, the turn on notifications was really annoying. It’s altogether a difficult issue to figure out!

      Published 7.31.16 Reply
  7. Alexandra and Isabella commented:

    Thanks Sydne I found all your blog post really helpful and interesting. I too have been struggling with instagram for my blog and will use some of the things you said to try and get more interest. As for the four questions you put at the end of you post. I like seeing a lots of different phots (outfit’s, food and others) but one that show use who you are and what you love. Isabella XX Blog Fromchtonz

    Published 8.1.16 Reply
    • Sydne Summer commented:

      So glad you liked it! We’re all in the same boat on this one 🙂

      Published 8.1.16 Reply
  8. garry hilton commented:

    Reels are fun videos you can share with followers on your Instagram account. They have audio, effects, and creative tools. You can share them on your feed and publicly in Instagram Explore to reach new audiences.

    Published 2.24.23 Reply

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