The Classic Brunette: 7 Ways To Understand Instagram (All About The New Instagram Algorithm)

Monday, June 5, 2017

7 Ways To Understand Instagram (All About The New Instagram Algorithm)

What is a shadow ban? Is it real? How to understand what the new instagram algorithm is all about and how to benefit from the changes. Increase engagement through instagram stories, direct messaging, and owning your content.

Instagram has not been a very nice friend lately. If you use the app on a regular basis I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about. The changes that have been rolling out for Instagram have had a major impact on how photos are being shared on the app and how much interaction we get on our photos. And let's be honest....it's not going so well for us users, especially if you're a blogger. I know I've personally had my fair share of frustration with the app lately since engagement has been down and it's stopped showing me photos from people I actually want to see. (If anyone from Instagram happens to read this, bring the chronological ordered feed back!!) However I know that sitting around and fuming about the situation isn't going to solve any problems.

Now a little background info for those that aren't aware of the full situation. Instagram is now 100% owned by Facebook and is practically turning into it. The algorithm that was recently set up is VERY similar to what happened to FB a few years ago and it's expected to get even more similar in the near future. What does this mean exactly? It means everything is out of order on your feed so you won't see new updates from your favorite friends or bloggers as often (Or at all!) and Instagram now suggests things they THINK you'll like. Which means if you recently followed your uncool cousin that posts 1000x pictures of the same meal because they followed you and it would be rude not to follow a family member back, you'll most likely see their photos over a close friend you followed years ago and only posts once in a blue moon. Not right in my opinion, but what can you do? Well, let me tell you.


1. Do What Works For YOU

Instagram used to be somewhat cookie-cutter when it came to bettering your profile. Post at popular times, engage with your audience, post great photos, and your followers will slowly go up. Although this has kind of stayed the same, it isn't as easy anymore (not to say it was easy to begin with, but now it's much much harder). What works for someone else might not make sense for you. I know bloggers who have had huge success with automated like systems, however that's not something I'm willing to test out just based on what type of engagement I want to receive back. Others will post early in the morning and get a ton of likes while when you do so you might get crickets. You have to be willing to test out new ways to increase engagement and follows until you find out what works for YOU. This goes for content as well. You see someone post a pretty flat lay with some flowers, a pair of sandals, and a magazine (all that you happen to own) and their likes skyrocket, so you decide to post a nearly identical photo. Don't do that. Yeah you might rake in the likes, but that's just being a plain ol' copycat! Find your own unique way to succeed and I promise you'll get more benefits than by copying everyone else. 

2. Content Should Come First

Just think about why you follow the people you do. Is it because they are constantly liking your photos? Maybe it's because they followed you and you like to follow everyone back? Or possibly you just really enjoy their bio because it's catchy and fun. Although these reasons could possibly be part of the reason for earning your follow, you know that the real reason is because you love their content. You don't want to be scrolling through a feed of mediocre content that doesn't make you want to engage right? Well neither do your followers! This doesn't mean that all your Insta photos have to be pristine and perfect, but maybe plan a few out and have them edited in a similar way (Check out how I edit my photos!) Make sure your content game is strong and then follow through with everything else. 

3. Back Up Your Content With Engagement

Although content is extremely important, it isn't everything. Yes, you'll get a good number of followers and engagement when you have amazing content, but that doesn't mean they'll stick around for long! Keep your audience engaged by engaging them right back. Like and comment on their photos, but MAKE IT AUTHENTIC. Nowadays there are so many automated like and comment services out there that make these things almost unimportant to the regular Instagrammer. Although the big services like MassPlanner and Instagress were shut down, it doesn't mean the automation has stopped. When you decide to comment on someone's photo or video, do it with authenticity. Start a conversation with the person and they are 10x as likely to respond to you and check out your profile. This goes for your own photos as well. Responding to every comment with an actual, meaningful response will really surprise your audience because it just doesn't happen that often. Now, I know that's an area I too have to work on (because let's be honest responding to comments gets difficult when you're busy) but keeping your audience engaged and coming back for more is SO important in this new Instagram world. And something that a lot of people seem to forget is that the people that are commenting are, well, people! Try to respond to every comment (Like I said, I'll be trying better from now on!) because it's a real person on the other side that you're responding to!


4. DM'ing Is The New Comment

You might be thinking...really? DM's are so so so important now that everything is being automated. People seem to have stopped checking comments half the time since there's never anything of substance. However, when I get a DM, I'm always on the lookout and ready to respond. It shows that the person took the time to reach out to me and share their thoughts. This is also easy to do since Instagram stories allows you to DM from a specific photo or video. It's basically handing you an opportunity to connect with someone! I've found that I can easily build up a conversation with someone when they message me on Instagram and it is a great reminder that people appreciate what you post. It's a crazy cool thing when people message you and want to talk about your content! This isn't to say forget about comments altogether (see above!) but understand that you might make more of an impact on people if you share your thoughts directly with them. And hey, you might just make some awesome connections in the meantime!

5. Stop Freaking Out Over Shadowban

If you haven't heard this term yet, then you might be out of the loop. Essentially it is the thought that your posts aren't making it to your audience or showing up in your hashtags. Spoiler alert, no one knows if it's real, and it probably isn't. I admit, I fell into the trap of thinking I was shadow banned for a hot second but then I just came to the conclusion that the new algorithm sucks. Everyone's engagement and following is down. It's not just you. It would be nice if we had a simple explanation and way to solve it, but the truth is we just have to work harder to get back to what we used to have. 

6. Make Use Of Instagram Stories

Instagram stories is a HUGE way to make an impact on your audience as well as others! I typically get more engagement on my posts when I post to Instagram stories as well. With the new algorithm making it more and more difficult to be seen, Instagram stories almost guarantees you stay on your follower's radar. If you post often enough you'll remain on the main page of Instagram and your followers can see that you posted a story recently. Through my stories I like to share random snippets of my day and if I have a new blog post or post on my page I'll let my audience know about it. Though I'm not sure how to track how much this feature helps, I do know that I am having more eyes on my content and can therefore make sure my audience can keep up with my latest news!

7. Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

Hate to break it to y'all, but Instagram could disappear at any moment. The next big thing could come around and drive Instagram into the ground. All the followers that you spent time building up could be gone in a flash. Yes, it's important to work on building up your audience and reach via Instagram, but remember that YOUR BLOG is the only thing that you truly own. (If you're a blogger that is, if your main focus is other social media let me just slyly suggest that you create a blog for larger content...) Don't let your blog fall by the wayside just because you're experiencing some sort of success on Instagram or any other social platform for that matter. Convert those Insta followers into readers and you are golden.



I would love to know your thoughts on this new algorithm and Instagram in general! What has helped you succeed in these trying times? Have you found a trick that boosts or deters engagement? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

Also, if you feel like giving me a follow you can do so HERE 😊

76 comments:

  1. Very interesting! I used to rely on figuring out popular times when posting but it's not as easy anymore. Interesting about the DM'ing too, never considered that, I always think I'm bothering them with a personal message...

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  2. Great tips about Instagram. I recently just had to get over the new algorithm and work harder to make it to the explore page. It takes a bit longer but it still works! Great tip about IG Stories I have not been using them to my advantage.

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  3. Noteworthy read. Thanks for breaking down the new algorithm, Ive read other bloggers complain about it especially their engagement. But I think we shouldn't chase likes and comments superficially, I believe if we remain authentic and true to what we want to share then no algorithm can challenge that. Thousands of followers are wonderful, but if we are helping just one woman feel good about herself and inspired to push forward, its worth it, right? :)

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  4. Thank you so much for this! I've been trying to figure out how to grow my Instagram following and it seems like there's nothing but gloom around IG lately. Super helpful!

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  5. I love Instagram and always feel like I've made some genuine friendships there, but they don't convert to blog subscribers too often. When all the new algorithms started, I must admit that I got frustrated and I haven't been posting very often. I really want to get back to it though. Thanks for these tips and encouragement. :)

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  6. Yes! This is spot on!! I totally agree with everything!

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  7. Instagram is my favorite social media. And it made upset when I started to feel frustrated and stressed with the app. So right now I'm just engaging a lot and starting to enjoy it again. Thanks or the tips!

    xx, Melissa
    https://elephantontheroad.com

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  8. This is really interesting. I haven't noticed much change in my engagement, but there has been a little bit of a dip in getting new followers!

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  9. Yes, yes, yes! This post is absolutely amazing. I was alarmed when I first heard about the shadow ban and then just said, "meh." I need to focus on my blog. I love that IG has taken all the awesomeness of Snapchat and used it on their platform. I am SO many more followers on IG and they actually see, as opposed to Snapchat. Thank you for the quality post! I followed you on IG, I am @entirely.erika :)

    - erika
    www.entirelyerika.com

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  10. I've been so frustrated with the changes but you're right the only thing we can do is keep engaging and creating great content. Pinning this now to my blog board!

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  11. Such great tips, Sami, and I loved your point about returning to the content of your blog! I love Instagram and it's become my main social media channel, but the algorithm is proving to be so, so frustrating - particularly when I spend so much time styling and editing a photo, only not to receive as many views on it as I'd like. Still, I'm working on continuing to engage with my followers and I'm glad to know after reading your post that I'm on the right track!

    xo Jaime
    Angloyankophile

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  12. This is so true and so helpful. I agree and it is so unfair what is happening. Sometimes I see hardly any new posts even though I follow so many people. I've been engaging more and it is helping but I'll take your tips and suggestions in mind to help it out. P

    Jackie | fashionxfairytale |

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  13. I totally agree! The new algorithm is very difficult and just annoying. I would love to see a post about any suggestions you have for gaining followers!

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  14. Very interesting thank you for sharing this info!!! super helpful!

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  15. Thanks for the info, very helpful tips and I totally agree with you. Hopefully IG goes back to what we knew and what worked for us.

    Thanks,
    Chigi
    www.chigisworld.com

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  16. The new Instagram algorithm is driving me crazy too. I don't know anyone that actually likes the instagram algorithm, it's just so frustrating. You make some really great points though and I agree focusing on content and engagement are the keys to success on Instagram.

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  17. I agree that the new Instagram algorithm is bonkers, but what I really found interesting is the DM'ing tip. I'm terrible about paying attention to my messages because I didn't often use it before the algorithm change. Definitely going to give that a shot! Great tips! :)

    - Brit
    www.bewrit.com

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  18. The best lesson I've learned from the whole Instagram Algorithm mess is that I need to continue focusing on MY blog, and stop worrying so much about my numbers on Instagram. In the end, it's just a social media sharing app, but my blog reflects the work I put into it in a real way.

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  19. This is crazy informative - thank you! I've been trying to up my personal engagement - liking comments and making sure to reply when it's appropriate. Thank you for the advice!

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  20. I couldn't agree more with #7! Never put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to networks you have zero control over!

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  21. UGHHH The new algorithm is so annoying - thank you for all these tips and the info! It's so helpful to read someone else's perspective!!

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  22. So true that Instagram can disappear anytime! I love how blogging is nice because it's yours and nobody can take that away from you.

    http://www.myclusterofthoughts.com/

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  23. This is such a useful post! I gave up on instagram a while ago because I felt like I was being pulled in a million different directions but I do make a point of checking DM's and responding :) I'm definitely pinning this

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  24. Good tips! I read a post on Social Media Posse (I think) about the shadowban not existing, but it actually being to do with AI things. Might interest you to read! Business accounts are definitely getting hit more with bad engagement in my experience, so I'd recommend not switching to a business one if you haven't already. I run 5 accounts and the business profiles all suck now :(

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  25. You've got some great tips on here! I am so tired of hearing about the shadowbanning and I totally agree with not putting all of your eggs in one basket!

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  26. This was a great post. Instagram has really been irritating me as of late so I haven't been on and using it very much. I just really burnt myself out trying to figure out how to get my content out there to others and putting in so much effort for very little in return. Now that I've taken some time away, I'm ready to get back into it but focus on my content and engaging with others and what happens happens. You're so right that your blog is the only thing you truly own and that's where your focus should be.

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  27. This is so helpful, Sami! I know we've both been struggling with our engagement. I've decided to quit worrying about numbers and to just enjoy instagram and it's pretty pictures! Time to stop stressing. xoxox

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  28. Such a good post. I can't stand how everyone is always freaking out about shadowbanning. Like just keep swimming lol

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  29. #7 is the BEST tip for sure! I also love using IG stories versus posting photos. These are great tips, Sami!

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  30. I've definitely been getting frustrated with Insta lately. I wish it would go back to haunt everything in chronological order instead of me seeing posts that people put up days ago. Yikes. These are great tips though. I still haven't made use of Insta stories, so I definitely need to look into that.

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  31. Wow so informative! Thanks for sharing!

    Sabrina | Gypsy Tan

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  32. I definitely miss the old Instagram days. It was my favorite platform since I'm so visual, but slowly but surely it's getting frustrated.

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  33. Great article, couldn't agree more especially with the shadow ban thing. Did you notice the massive change they did with stories? I shared the location + added a hashtag and the audience went waaaay up.

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  34. Youre so right about all of this especially with DM'ing!

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  35. I did not realize how powerful DMing is! It is a little discouraging... I am having a hard time getting a following on Instagram, but I am trying to do it as organically as possible. So, I guess slow & steady is the way to go. Trying to stay positive!! Thanks for these tips xx

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  36. I've been using IG Stories more lately and it's been a great way to engage with my followers.

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  37. Yes to everything you wrote!!! Especially the part about Insta stories and engaging via DMs. I love watching my fave bloggers' Insta stories and then DMing them about something they said.

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  38. Thanks for sharing! This has been super helpful! I got pretty bad recently about consistently posting on Instagram - just haven't had time to create enough quality images - but now that I've been back in the game for a while, I'm definitely seeing these changes. They suck! But there are ways to work around them and I think you hit on all of them very well. Thank you!
    xoxo Lauren | Glitter & Grandeur

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  39. I'm glad you said to stop freaking out! People need to calm down :)

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  40. I actually kind of like the new algorithm on my personal account - all of the accounts that I kind of half-heartedly follow end up at the bottom of my feed so I can just do a quick scroll through them while knowing that my favorite content is at the top. However, as a blogger, this is super frustrating because I want to see a ton of people's posts and I want people to see mine! I'm a super big fan of Instagram stories though - I never use Snapchat anymore!

    Hannah | the swirl | http://theswirlblog.com/

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  41. This is very helpful. My only thing is I'm okay with FB owning Instagram, but since FB allows you to choose how you want your feed shown (chronological or top news) I wish they would offer the same option for IG. I literally scroll and scroll and just see the same people over and over half the time, which is frustrating.

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  42. I wish Instagram would go back to the way it was! I have been using insta stories more often to draw traffic to my new posts and my blog.

    Xx,
    Amanda || www.fortheloveofglitter.com

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  43. This is a great post! I really like how you said it's important to focus on content and your blog. I was just saying the other day how Instagram could start charging or could be beat out by another app, and if you don't have a strong and loyal blog following, then you'll be SOL! Thanks for sharing these tips and insights! xo, B | www.theblistblog.com

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  44. Holy moly, I learned SO much in this read. Amazing!! As a new blogger to the social media scene, Instagram can be rather intimidating at times. It seems like such a powerful tool for bloggers because it's so visual. I feel like it could really make or break my blog as I'm just getting out of the gate but you're absolutely right about not putting all your eggs in one basket. There could easily be another "big thing" right around the corner that would make Insta obsolete (though I hope not!). I was blown away by the power of DM'ing + Insta storied you mention. I'd love to take a deeper dive into understanding that. This was a very helpful + inspiring post. I'm headed over to a few others of yours to continue learning!!

    Thanks for enlightening us, Sami! :)

    Cheers!
    Mallory

    www.CheersYears.com

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  45. This is SUCH a great post girlie!! It's been rough on the 'gram the past month or so, that's for sure! I love your tips - I'm hoping they take note of just how many people HATE this change and do something - anything - about it. Engagement is down for us all which is the only thing making me not want to quit using it all together!

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  46. I love this post! I totally agree with everything you said. Everyone needs to chill and just figure out what works for them rather than blaming a possibly non-existant shadow ban.

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  47. I used to put so much emphasis on Instagram but since all the changes I've definitely learned to spread my content on other social media platforms.

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  48. All great tips :) I'm not worried about the shadow ban coz I'm still new lol

    http://thesophiadiaries.com/bujoinspiration/bujo-ideas-pinterest

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  49. I wish Insta wouldnt have changed. I hate everything about the new algorithm but I do my best to engage with my followers and try to find new blogger to engage with.

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  50. Such a helpful post! I kind of just started going with the flow in terms of all of my social media. While I'm still obviously working on getting followers and getting people to engage, I'm not all that worried about all the background stuff.

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  51. SO TRUE!!!!!! The less I've focused on IG and the more I've focused on my blog... the better both have gotten!

    xx,

    Lacey
    http://theglittergospelblog.com

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  52. Instagram is so frustrating some days. I adore stories and get so much interaction with followers through it. It is usually different followers than those that comment on my posts which is interesting.

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  53. I'm totally using the stories feature instead of Snapchat... 0_0

    -Alix

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  54. These are great tips! I totally agree! Do what works for you & your followers! I also love instastories! Many folks didn't when it first came out, but I enjoy it!

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  55. This is so insightful! Thank you so much for sharing this awesome post!!

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  56. I am still trying to figure out Instagram stories!!

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  57. I love instagram stories! I think I like them more than snapchat now!

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  58. I agree with Maegan! I love Insta stories! And this was a great post. I feel like I know this, but it was good to get the reminders to focus on content, stay visible on stories, and engage!

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  59. Agree with those many of these points, I totally love Insta Stories! And I agree that content and engagement are SO important!! Thanks for sharing this!

    xx Mollie

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  60. These are great points you made, Sami! Instagram has become a real pain in the butt lately, but the secret to success is constant engagement! Thanks for sharing these!

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  61. Great post! I implemented most of these tips a few weeks ago and have been loving the stories feature.

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  62. Such a great post! Thanks so much for sharing lady!

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  63. Hello! Thank you for these lovely tips! I had been having these issues as well lately so this post is a big help! :)

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  64. I LOVE this post! Especially the one about stop freaking out about shadowban. While I'm as annoyed with the algorithm as the next person, I'm tired of focusing on it. All I can do is put my best content forward, keep improving my quality, engage more and hope for the best. I've been turning on post notifications for some of my favorite accounts so I can see them when they post.

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  65. Totally agree! I love DM's! I'd prefer to talk one on one than through comments.

    xx. The Coastal Confidence - Aubrey
    http://the-coastalconfidence.com/

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  66. I did a super similar post awhile ago and it's all SO TRUE.

    Coming Up Roses

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  67. These are all so true and important to keep in mind! Instagram has been a bit of a bummer lately but it doesn't have to be.

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  68. This is so helpful! The new algorithm has definitely been frustrating everyone!

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  69. Loving all these tips! Instagram has been so frustrating lately. I definitely need to work on engaging more!

    -Tristan

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  70. This was sooo helpful! Instagram has been so frustrating lately, but I really need to start implementing some of these tips!

    xx,
    Lauren

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  71. OMG so many wonderful tips! I have noticed that Instagram stories has been so helpful driving traffic to my page!

    xoxo
    Oby Grace
    http://www.obygrace.com

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  72. What a great list of tips! Didn't know what was affecting that I was having less engagement and new followers in the last couple of weeks. Thank you so much for explaining. Now I know what was failing.
    xoxo Nina

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  73. These are all such great advice! I've been trying to use Insta stories more and I have seen such great responses from my followers, I love it!
    xoxo,
    Amy | Pastel N Pink

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  74. Your last point is EXTREMELY important!! I've been trying to grow my email list for this exact reason!

    Kayla | kaylablogs.com

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  75. I've been trying to stress less about Instagram! When everything changed, I went CRAZY and had to take a step back. Thank you for your advice :)
    xx Carly | www.thecarlycollective.com

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