Alex Willkie

What’s up guys? @AlexWillkie here!

Now we’re gonna get into the “don’t” part of the do’s and don’ts of Instagram. It’s gonna really pertain around the Instagram algorithm mainly but I’m going to throw in a little bit of content stuff here.

For one, you don’t want to do mass actions. Instagram is going to give you about 1,000 actions a day if you have a mature account (older than 3 months) and about 300 per day if you’ve got a new account. You really don’t want to do more than 1,000 actions a day. That includes anything – posting, liking, commenting, following, etc. Any of those things are going to be called an action. You’re probably thinking “A thousand? That’s a lot a day.” Well if you lead into more actions through engagement groups, that’s where you get into hot water. Follow, unfollow – those are very common to lead you overboard and kinda fuck your account up. I’ll get into that a little bit later.

Secondly, you don’t want to do anything that’s going to be seen by Instagram as community harming. This is where the massive actions come into play. Hundreds of millions of profiles have been created and Instagram has data of what typically happens when people make these profiles. If you extremely violate those norms, Insta is going to realize and see you as a bot account, which are notorious for spamming and NOT contributing to the community.

They’re really trying to cut down on those bots right now, so they’re going to penalize you for it. What they’ll usually do is pull your reach back first. From there, your engagement is going to suck. Then it’s gonna lead you to get ‘shadow banned’ and eventually, you’ll get straight up banned. That’s why you typically don’t want to do any sort of automation or taking mass actions too quickly. You wanna stay away from that as much as possible.

You want to stay away from shitty low quality engagement as well. So, what does that mean? I mean like rounds groups – stay away from that shit. You want quality engagement groups. (Rounds groups is when you have thousands of accounts in the same group, hundreds of people sign up for a certain time that they want engagement and in turn will engage. You typically have within 1 hour to engage on every single account in the group or you can get kicked out)

I don’t like Rounds Groups or mass engagement groups because they give you false readings and they don’t actually add to your reach at all. They can maybe help you briefly hit some hashtags, but if someone has more quality followers that are liking and commenting and staying on the platform longer, they’re just gonna trump you in that category as well.

So you don’t wanna be doing that stuff, it’s gonna really tank your account.

If you don’t believe me start looking up accounts, any niche, that has 80,000 to 130,000 followers. You’re going to find that a lot of the accounts you see are dying out. They’re engagement is going to be around 2,000 or 3,000 likes per post and that means they’re likely pulling in about 1,000 of those likes from rounds groups and getting some actual engagement from their audience.

This means most of their engagement is fake, no bueno.

What that would translate to in reach is probably around 10,000 to 15,000 people who they actually reached with that post. That’s not very good for an account that has 130,000 followers. Typically you want to be reaching at least 15% – 20% of your total audience per post. On top of that, they’re likely not reaching anyone outside of their followers – also not very good. That’s not how you grow.

Instagram really is honing in on that and they’re pulling back. That’s why you’re gonna find a lot of these accounts that died out around that mark. It’s very rare that people hit 200,000, rarer at 300 or 400. Still, even some multimillion-follower accounts can die out this way, meaning that they have failed to engage with their community. This is a large part that can fuck it up for you, honestly.

Another thing you want to stay away from is multiple logins. Basically, if Instagram sees you post on your account, then like two seconds later you’re getting a log in from like the Philippines or something, that’s going to look sketchy to Instagram and that’s going to put you down in the algorithm. You don’t want to be doing that. This comes into play a lot, right? Automation tools, anything that you need to put your password into, whether it’s a rounds group bot, auto-posting, follow-unfollow, all of those things are logging in on a server drastically different from where you are located. Right there is a red flag for Instagram, especially if you’re logged in and doing something while your bots logged in and doing something. That’s a recipe for danger right there. If you’re doing two things at the same time, logging in from two drastically different places, it’s not a good sign for Instagram. You want to stay away from that as much as possible. Which leads me into my next point –automation follow-unfollow.

I really do get why people do automation. I mean, I’d prefer to just set my posts up for the week. That’s easy, I just let it ride. That’s not what Instagram is about though. It’s not like “Here’s my stuff!” and then you’re gone. No. It’s like “Here’s my stuff!” then you engage with your community. You make stories about it, you write compelling captions, you follow-up with people. They want to keep you on the platform, not have you schedule something then fuck off. How is that going to benefit them at all? It won’t. I understand why people want to do it, but it’s not the feasible thing. Right now with Instagram there is a lot of things happening where they’re allowing automation on a microscopic level. So like HootSuite or Buffer, they have direct posting. I still don’t recommend this because Instagram is still gonna look at the multi-logins as sketchy. I don’t honestly believe that Instagram’s police bot has adjusted for that yet. Another reason I wouldn’t do it is because I recommend people post hashtags in the first comment.

Another thing you don’t wanna do is use the same hashtags over and over again. If you’re posting five times a day with the same set of hashtags, you’ll get yourself into trouble. It will appear to Instagram that you may be just spamming hashtags. I’d recommend having some variations that you can swap through.

The Follow-unfollow strategy… same deal. People seem to think that the way to find more followers for their local account is to follow, then unfollow. Well if you follow-unfollow no one gives a fuck. Even if you’re a local community, there’s so many better ways to increase your amount of followers.

Utilizing stories, live streams, utilizing local influencers, local hashtags, etc. Even if you were going viral and you didn’t want all that virality, it would still give you the engagement you needed to penetrate into your local market. Now you can post in the geo-tags of the suburbs where your clients or potential clients could be. There’s just so many ways to increase your followers. There’s no reason to do the follow-unfollow method. Instagram’s going to pull your reach back (since you look like a bot) so now you’re gonna have to lean on follow-unfollow more and more. I don’t think there is ever a situation where you should do that.

Don’t do excessive pitching and promos. Whether it’s your business or your personal or it’s you doing promos for people, you have to ask yourself before you post anything – “Who gives a shit?” Personal accounts are horrible for this. It’s all about me, me, me and there’s no real personality behind it. That’s why a lot of accounts are stagnant. I haven’t posted shit on my personal account in a long time. Maybe by the time you read this, I might actually have my shit together. Anyways, it’s really hard to craft your story. You really need to frame your account correctly and have a purpose behind it for yourself, then make content for it. You need to figure that step out first.

Again, these are the things you don’t do. Massive actions, multiple logins, automation and follow-unfollow; low-quality stuff. The whole reason behind this is because Instagram is leaning more and more towards categorizing your account and fitting you into the algorithm. They put you into your niche and decide what members would engage on your account right now. Try not to do those things, guys.

@alexwillkie out, peace.

About Alex Willkie

INSTAGRAM MENTOR As Instagram marketing director at Unicorn Innovations, Alex helps businesses monetize their brands and command a greater online audience. A typical day for Alex includes team meetings, strategizing, posting and streaming live video. This routine must be working, because it has resulted in a crop of new success stories. As a valued social media consultant, Alex Willkie knows personally how to grow an online presence. In less than a year, Alex’s Instagram beauty account, (@beautifybasics), has grown to 5 million followers plus. His mission is to share his expertise to help other business scale their online presence. When Alex Willkie was growing up in Manitoba, Canada, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do in life. Having excellent role models like his grandfather and dad taught him that if you want to reap success, sometimes you have to plant a little risk. So, tired of taking orders in the traditional workplace, Alex invested his own savings toward his vision -- and it worked. Action-oriented from his workday to his competitive gaming spot, Alex gives 200%. He has learned firsthand that with a strong will and a zealous outlook, you can do the unimaginable – and help others do the same.

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