Top Ways to Cheat the Instagram Algorithm as a Freelancer

Yes, you read that correctly. It seems as if Instagram algorithms don’t do small artists any favours. Simply understanding how the algorithm works, and how to optimize your content strategy for it, is the best way to gain an advantage when it comes to gaining more traffic.

So, how do Instagram algorithms even work?

Ultimately, Instagram’s algorithm (or multiple algorithms, to be precise) is designed to serve users the content they are most likely to engage with. The solution is therefore to give the algorithm exactly what it needs to do its job properly.

Here are some tips on how to master your content in order to finesse the algorithm:

Be consistent

Essentially, when it comes to the algorithm more you put in, the more you’ll get out. This is because the algorithm is constantly learning from you. Every post you share, hashtag you use, and engagement you make gives the algorithm an indicator of what your account is all about. You should consistently post similar content that is diverse within a niche. The easier the algorithm can “categorize” your account and its content, the more likely your posts will appear for users who have shown a previous interest in your niche. Once the algorithm has a strong indication of your niche, your profile is more likely to be shown to relevant audiences in Explore Page results.

Your captions should encourage people to comment and share

If you accompany a great photo, video or reel with a caption that encourages people to interact you’re more likely to tap into the algorithm. This can be as simple as asking your community a question or prompting them to tag a friend in the comments to enter your latest giveaway.

Fit the SEO

In the early days, Instagram’s categorization of content relied heavily on the hashtags a user included in a post. Now, however, Instagram allows users to “search by keyword” in many countries, which indicates the algorithm is also processing visual content and caption semantics. If you go to “Advanced Settings” in the publishing flow, and select “Write alt text”, Instagram uses image recognition software to automatically generate a description if you don’t manually input alt text, however, this is often inaccurate or lacking in detail.

Share when your followers are online

The more engagement your post receives, the more likely it will be served to more users. Furthermore, you can tell how well a post will do within the first 24 hours. One of the best ways to get immediate attention and engagement is to post when the majority of your followers are online. You can find the answer in your analytics section on the app.

Use Instagram’s features to their best ability

To stay on top of the wave, jump on the latest features and fast. Instagram gives extra prominence to new features to help drive adoption, so getting to grips with them while the competition is still low can be a huge advantage. Take Instagram Reels for example. Instagram has prioritized Reels in users’ home feeds over the last 6 months — with early adopters seeing major results.

Know your hashtag strategy

The old school hashtag however still plays a strong part but today it’s more about quality than quantity. Using hashtags with a healthy volume of posts, but avoid oversaturated ones, taking inspiration from trending posts in your niche are great ways to tap into new audiences.

Find your Reel niche

Reels and TikToks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Instagram has confirmed that the Reels algorithm will deprioritize Reels with a TikTok watermark, and favour original Reels content instead. Similarly, low quality or blurry content will be deprioritized. Therefore, the best way to hack the Reels algorithm is to create original, high-quality content, right within the Reels editor.

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