Instagram Hacks: Separating the Useful from the Useless

Are tired and overwhelmed by all the crazy Instagram hacks you hear on a day-to-day basis, only to be left wondering which ones actually work and which are just gimmicks and a complete waste of time and effort? I feel you! As someone who runs a digital marketing agency and coaching business, I can totally appreciate how confusing this can be! That’s why I thought I’d debunk some of the crazy hacks I’ve heard and share what actually works so you can know what’s useful and what’s useless. 

Hack #1: Use popular hashtags to increase your reach

Nope! This one is a total waste of time. Especially in 2023 where we know now that Instagram places far less weight on hashtags when it comes to how they distribute your content. Not only is it harder to stand out from the competition when you use really large popular hashtags, but often these larger hashtags are more vague which means you’re less likely to reach people in your niche. 

So what’s a hack that works instead? Since Instagram uses hashtags as a form of SEO to categorise your content, you should use hashtags that are specific to the content you share. For example, if you run a local cake business based in Melbourne, Australia that specialises in wedding cakes and you’re sharing an image of a two-tier, white and gold cake, decorated with buttercream you could use the hashtags #MelbourneWeddingCakes #ButterCreamWeddingCake #Twotierweddingcake #whiteandgoldweddingcake. Using niche hashtags will help the Instagram algorithm understand what your content is about so it can show your post to a more targeted audience interested in exactly what you do. 

Hack #2: Use engagement pods to boost your Instagram engagement and reach more people.

An engagement pod is basically a group of Instagram users who agree to support each other by liking and commenting on each other’s posts. This became a popular strategy when Instagram switched from showing posts in chronological order to displaying posts based on user behaviour, causing many users to experience a drop in engagement. By joining an engagement pod, members could guarantee quick engagement on their posts and hopefully get more visibility in the algorithm, reaching more followers.

Here’s why this is a total waste of time though. 

Firstly, the engagement you receive when participating in these types of pods is often forced and not genuine, and they don’t lead to the type of engagement that truly matters, such as comments and shares from your ideal clients which can hurt your brand’s reputation in the long-term. 

Secondly, participating in engagement pods is super time-consuming. Some of these pods have 20 – 30 members who post daily, so you end up spending all your time trying to keep up with commenting on all of these posts. And thirdly, engagement pods aren’t sustainable. People often lose interest when they realise how time-consuming this strategy is and how little effect it has on their results. 

What actually works is using your time wisely to research what topics your ideal clients and customers actually care about and creating content around that so you can generate real engagement that will actually drive results for your business on Instagram. 

Hack #3: Run a cash giveaway to grow your audience.

This is a complete waste of time and money! While giveaways can be a great way to grow your audience on Instagram, they must be very thoughtfully and carefully crafted in order to be effective. 

Giving away a broad appeal prize like $500 cash or a brand new laptop will be sure to grow your following however you can bet that as fast as you grew that following, you’ll lose them just as quickly. The followers that you don’t lose will likely never engage with your content or become actual clients or customers of your business because they were only ever interested in the prize you were giving away. 

If you do want to run a giveaway, you can implement this strategy if you offer a prize that’s unique to your business or niche. For example, using the cake business we mentioned earlier, you could run a giveaway where you give away a $500 voucher to your bakery. Not only will this encourage entrants who are actually interested in your business and products but it’s also a great way to get people to your store where you can develop a further relationship with them. 

Hack #4: Engaging in following loops.

If you’re not familiar with follow loops, they’re a tactic where a group of Instagram users team up to gain a large number of followers in a short period of time, usually within 24 hours. Here’s how they work: the first user in the loop creates a post and tags the next user, who then tags the next user, and so on. The goal is for people to click through and follow each user until they reach the beginning of the loop again.

While this strategy may seem appealing, I have two major issues with it. Firstly, it’s very time-consuming as there are typically a lot of people involved in the loop. Secondly, the quality of the followers gained tends to be low. These followers may not be genuinely interested in your business or content and are unlikely to engage with your posts or become customers of your business.

In my opinion, follow-loops are a complete waste of time. Instead, your time would be better spent building real relationships with the people who do follow you and creating content that resonates and attracts your ideal clients and customers. 

Hack #5: Write longer Instagram captions.

Back in the day, a lot of Instagram experts recommended writing long captions to keep your followers engaged for longer and thus improve your post’s performance in the algorithm. And honestly, it was a pretty solid strategy at the time. But now, things have changed. Attention spans are shorter than ever and people have become tired of reading long captions. Unless your caption is really well written, people get bored and lose interest pretty quickly. So it’s time to ditch this outdated hack. But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you can’t still share valuable information and show off your expertise. A strategy that’s actually working incredibly well right now is creating carousel posts. 

A Carousel is a feed post including up to 10 images. The idea is to break up your content into smaller, more easily digestible chunks shared in an interesting way across each carousel image. Using carousel posts to share your knowledge is a great way to keep your followers both interested and engaged. According to a study by Social Insider, carousel posts bring higher engagement than image and video posts, especially in the case of smaller profiles with under 5,000 followers. Specifically, the study showed that carousels outperform images and videos, reaching an average engagement rate per post of 1.92%, compared to 1.74% for images and 1.45% for videos.*

So don’t be afraid to share in-depth information on Instagram, just remember to break it up into bite-sized pieces. This will make it more interesting and easier for your followers to consume and digest.

So, moving forward, how can you tell the difference between useful Instagram hacks and useless ones? My recommendation is to look for hacks that are backed up by research and evidence and be wary of hacks that promise overnight success or quick fixes. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is so use common sense and always ask yourself if the hack makes sense for your unique business and audience.  

While Instagram hacks can be tempting, not all of them are created equal. Focus on creating high-quality content that resonates with your audience and use research-backed hacks to enhance your Instagram strategy. If you need further help, don’t hesitate to reach out because I created my agency to help people just like you beat Instagram overwhelm so you can leverage it to grow your brand and get more clients and customers. 

If you found value in this post and want to learn more about how you can work 1:1 with me to master Instagram marketing so you can reach more dream clients and customers, without the overwhelm, click here to apply for a free strategy call with me where we can chat more about what it would look like to work together! 

Click here to How to CRUSH Instagram Reels in 2023 (Even if you’re an introvert).


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