For years, Instagram has been the most popular platform and Instagram’s reach has been huge.
Sold to Facebook in 2012 for 1$ billion, Instagram was a big hit and during one period surpassed Facebook in popularity even though it never had as many users as Facebook.
After it launched back in 2010, it gained one million users in only two months and, in June 2018, it hit a huge number of 1 billion monthly active users.
This video and image-sharing social media platform is the 4th most downloaded mobile app of the decade and is also responsible for the rise of influencers.
It was at the forefront of advertising, precisely because of the aforementioned influencers and their impact on what their followers would buy. That is why many companies have focused on advertising on Instagram as the most effective method of advertising.
While all of these stats are pretty impressive, the truth is that Instagram’s reach has actually been on a decline since 2019.
It can be because of TikTok or people just getting tired of influencer marketing and ads, it is undeniable that this platform isn’t as popular as it used to be.
Let’s analyze the situation in detail and come to a conclusion together – Is Instagram dying in 2021?
In this article you will read about the following:
- Difference between reach and engagement
- Instagram reach
- Instagram engagement
- Is Instagram popular in 2021?
- How does the Instagram algorithm works?
- Instagram trends for 2021
1. Difference between reach and engagement
Today we will mention reach and engagement many times. It is necessary to understand and analyze them to conclude the real situation is in terms of Instagram popularity in 2021 and beyond.
But first, we want to talk about the difference between reach and engagement since a lot of people don’t understand it completely.
Reach and engagement differ significantly.
The difference is not difficult to understand at all.
Reach is the number of people your Instagram post has reached, hence the name.
So these are all those viewers who have seen your content. This is something to pay attention to when you want to increase the number of followers. Organic reach is especially important, but there will be more about that later.
When we talk about engagement, it is easiest to explain it by saying that engagement includes likes, shares, comments, and any other direct interaction between you, your content and the users.
It is clear that reach and engagement are not the same and that success in expanding the reach, for example, does not have to have any impact on engagement and vice versa.
Therefore you need to pay attention to increasing both individually.
2. Instagram reach
Now that you know what reach is and how it differs from engagement, you also need to know what organic reach is.
Organic reach is not a consequence of paid promotion and similar tools. It is created exclusively “naturally”. This means that people didn’t come across your content in a targeted way through advertising.
Organic reach is one of the most important factors for SEO and many other things. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve organic reach on Instagram due to changes in the algorithm, which we will focus on later.
We will answer the following three questions:
- Why organic reach on Instagram is in decline?
- Can you buy reach?
- How to increase reach?
Why organic reach is in decline?
It’s no secret that Instagram is killing organic reach. The same thing that happened to Facebook is now happening to Instagram.
The organic reach on Facebook went from 16% in 2012 to 2.27% in 2015, and it’s only dropping.
If you are wondering why the answer is simple: both Facebook and Instagram don’t want you to build and reach an audience organically.
Instead, they want you to pay them to achieve this.
So, THEY`RE KILLING ORGANIC REACH and forcing you to pay for their advertising services if you want to build an audience and following on their platforms.
Can you buy Instagram reach?
The answer is very simple – yes, you can.
But don’t think that this is a solution for low reach, a small number of likes, and other problems you have been facing lately due to changes in the algorithm.
Although many websites offer the opportunity to buy followers, likes, and anything else that will affect your reach and engagement, it will not have any real benefit for you.
We are not saying that these sites are unreliable. Most of them will give you what you paid for, but the point is that it will bring nothing but empty numbers. As you know, Instagram has even made the number of likes invisible, so it means nothing to you anymore.
Now they are implementing an option to allow people to choose whether they want to see a number of likes or don’t, but it still won’t be useful to you.
We know it’s tempting to get tens of thousands of followers in a single day and that everyone has thought of doing it at least once.
However, this is not a shortcut to choose.
That way you will jeopardize your credibility, performance metrics will become unreliable and all this doesn’t guarantee higher reach nor bigger engagement.
You can lose everything you have achieved so far because you want to take a shortcut.
How to increase Instagram reach?
There are ways to help you increase Instagram reach legally and efficiently. This requires effort and time in planning and creating content.
Ways to increase reach are:
- Creating a posting schedule
- Find out about content types
- Saveable and shareable content
- Content exclusively for Instagram
Creating a posting schedule
Although the algorithm has not worked properly for years and displays the posts by the time they are posted, you still need to have a clear posting schedule.
If you are posting at the wrong time or very irregularly, you will significantly reduce your reach.
Instagram Insights can help you create a schedule so you can see which days and at what time of a day your posts have the greatest reach. This will mainly be influenced by the different time zones of your followers and so on.
Once you have that information, it will be much easier to make a schedule, and then when you stick to it, you will notice an increase in reach.
Of course, it is essential that you have high-quality posts, not just that they are always published at the same time.
Find out about content types
You have to educate and inform yourself about new and different content types constantly.
Just think what kind of content was popular when you first created an Instagram account, then 5 years ago, and today. It will be immediately clear that the types of content that are popular are constantly changing.
While the trial and error method is certainly boring and time-consuming, it is the only effective method to find what type of content you need to focus on.
Testing out new types of content is crucial.
You can also explore which types of content are generally popular and with which types some other profiles have been successful.
But you will only have a full insight when you try everything on your profile because not all followers are the same and there is more than one winning approach.
Savable and shareable content
As you know when you come across some very useful or appealing post you want to save it by pressing the save button in the lower right corner below the post.
It can be anything from a very nice photo of a landscape to a useful post where a workout is presented, etc.
The point is to create content that is “saveable” and that actually means that it is very high quality and informative and that someone will want to come back to it again. That way the user will save it to avoid losing it.
The same goes for shareable content. There is nothing better for organic reach on Instagram than when someone shares your post on their story or sends it to a friend in DM. That way you get free advertising and a lot of people will see your post.
Hashtags are a very well-known concept that has been used on social networks for a long time.
The popularity of hashtags has varied over the years, as has their function at certain times, so many people are still confused about how to use hashtags properly.
Until a few years ago, Instagram’s hashtags were the best way to get in touch with as many people as possible, but that is no longer the case and it can’t bring the same reach as before.
However, this does not mean that hashtags are no longer useful and that you shouldn’t use them, on the contrary.
It’s important to know how to use them properly.
The first thing experts advise is to use fewer hashtags than before, less than the allowed limit, but to use them effectively.
These are the so-called “feature” hashtags, which are actually your own hashtags and which will attract the attention of both people and the Instagram algorithm.
Brand hashtags are much more useful. If you use the same hashtags as millions of people, you won’t stand out and no one will notice you.
What you should absolutely avoid is using hashtags along with carousel posts and as well as using long hashtags.
Create content exclusively for Instagram
Do not try to recycle the same content for all social networks, websites, and blogs.
First of all, you need to know the characteristics of each social network. Instagram is a very visual platform and it requires content in the form of photos and videos. This is certainly different from what a Twitter profile needs for example.
It’s better to post content less often (though not too infrequently) and have it created exclusively for Instagram than to use something that isn’t entirely appropriate.
We know it is challenging to create unique content for each platform but it is necessary if you want to see an increase in reach and engagement.
3. Instagram engagement
In 2019, Trust Insights conducted a study where they analyzed 1.4 million Instagram posts from 3.600 brand profiles.
The results showed that in April, Instagram user engagement was 1.54%, and only three months later, it was 0.9%.
While it is true that TikTok stole all the thunder when it became available outside of China, other things can be blamed for the decline of Instagram engagement.
In this section, we will talk more about:
- Ads and feed changes contributing to the engagement drop
- How to increase engagement?
Ads and feed changes contributing to the engagement drop
Digital marketers think that the reason for this decrease is ads and that they’re driving people away.
Influencers have also experienced reduced reach, the stats showed, where fashion influencer’s engagement rate went from 4.3% (February) to 2.4% (June).
Another reason could be Instagram’s change in the way the feed worked back in 2016.
To improve user experience, they came up with a new algorithm that showed relevant content on the user’s feed.
What used to be a chronological feed became a series of posts the algorithm thought were relevant to the user and that the user would like.
Naturally, this resulted in an engagement drop. Which makes sense, because organic posts were no longer guaranteed to be seen by everyone.
How to increase engagement on Instagram?
For reach, the most important thing is to get your content seen by as many people as possible either through organic reach or paid ads. The fact that someone will see your post means nothing for engagement.
The point is to get users to “engage” in some way.
To improve Instagram engagement, you need to do the following:
- Create interesting stories
- Go live
- Write captions
- Organize giveaways
- Work with influencers
- Include CTA
Create interesting stories
It is common to publish stories much more often than posts. If you post 10 new posts on Instagram every day, people will probably stop paying attention to them and just keep scrolling down. Or they will even mute you which is catastrophic for your Instagram profile.
On the other hand, it is completely common to publish multiple stories per day and that allows you to increase engagement.
Stories should be interesting and creative, and also in some way stimulating for the users to get in touch with you.
So make an extra effort in creating stories, it is one of the best methods for engagement increase and you will notice that very soon.
Instagram Live is an option that you should definitely use for two reasons.
The first reason is that when you go “live” you are automatically positioned at the beginning of the story feed of the person that is following you.
This means that they will surely notice that you are live. You will be the first in their stories. A ring will appear around your profile photo together with the word “live”.
Also, it’s a great way to stimulate people to engage with you. During the live feed, they will leave comments. You can also invite someone to join you when going live.
It’s just important to think about when to start live broadcasts. For example, in the morning very few people will be online. It is best to do it in the afternoon, around 7 PM for example.
You may feel that no one will read longer Instagram captions. But that is not the case.
Longer captions are something that has a very good effect on engagement because the algorithm observes “time spent on the post”, which means that when someone reads a longer caption, he or she will spend much more time on the post than just looking at the photo.
So you should write a long, and yet interesting caption that will catch the reader’s attention, and also provide some important information.
You have up to 2,200 characters in your Instagram captions. And the average caption length is about 400 characters.
Feel free to write longer captions than average, just pay attention to include the most important and interesting things at the beginning, in the part before they need to click “read more” because it is crucial in attracting the reader’s attention.
By organizing a giveaway you play on the fact that everyone likes to participate in the competition and potentially win prizes.
This way you will attract all those who would not otherwise engage with you.
But in this case, if they want to participate in the giveaway they have to like share/repost/follow, or whatever else you ask them to do.
Organize giveaways regularly. The reward should always be something that is closely related to you/your niche.
Work with influencers
Working with influencers, even though they only have a few thousand followers, is very rewarding.
For example, when you organize a giveaway, ask an influencer to repost it to his/her story. This exposes your profile to their followers and it is highly likely that some of them will follow your profile and participate in the giveaway.
Once they follow you, many will continue to watch your content and engage with you. therefore, you will benefit from working with influencers in the long run.
Call to action (CTA) is one of the most effective marketing tools to quickly increase engagement.
According to Wikipedia “a CTA most often refers to the use of words or phrases that can be incorporated into sales scripts, advertising messages, or web pages, which compel an audience to act in a specific way”.
That’s why you should include CTA in your stories, for example, where you ask various questions, surveys, or something similar.
People will mostly answer them because it only takes a few seconds and many people want to know the correct answer or see how other people think.
4. Is Instagram popular in 2021?
Certainly, Instagram is still popular in 2021 and remains one of 6 social networks that have more than a billion users.
It is expected that over 50 million new users will be on Instagram by the end of the year, and although this is not the growth as a couple of years ago, it certainly means that Instagram will remain fully relevant for both personal and business use.
The situation with the average age of users will remain the same. Most users are between the ages of 25-34, followed by users between the ages of 18-24.
That is why it is necessary to target that age range, which is primarily made up of millennials. While the younger generations tend to prefer TikTok more.
Probably some new social network will attract the majority of the population of kids born after 2015 but it is too early to discuss that topic.
There is almost no difference in terms of genders because 51% of users are female and 49% are male.
Another piece of information that speaks in favor of Instagram still being popular is how much time people spend daily on Instagram.
This data is very easy to get because smartphones measure it, and the average is about an hour. So that leaves Instagram at the very top, just a few minutes less on average than Facebook.
The fact that the average user spends an hour on Instagram a day means that he or she has a lot of opportunities to see ads, to engage with your profile, and so on.
Also, over 70 percent of businesses have a profile and use stories, posts, IGTV, and everything else that Instagram offers.
Now it is more common to check some business on IG than on FB because many FB business profiles haven’t been used for years.
There are certain things that Instagram needs to address to remain among the most popular social networks and we expect it to do so this year and in the years to come.
Although growth will probably never be as high as it was on average last decade, there is a little chance that Instagram will stop being used and that the number of active users will fall below a billion, not to mention lower numbers.
It is predicted that the number of users will grow, and how much exactly, it is not known. Analysts have already made a mistake in their predictions because it was thought that Instagram would have this number of users in 2025. and not during 2021.
One could still discuss why you have fewer likes, why engagement and reach are decreasing, but all of that would not affect us to change our positive answer to the question Is Instagram still popular in 2021.
5. How does the Instagram algorithm work?
Maybe people think that the algorithm doesn’t change the type of posts you see very often, but that is not true.
All changes in the behavior of users are constantly monitored, as well as what gains and what loses in popularity. The changes in the algorithm are made accordingly.
They happen almost constantly and that is why it is important to know how the algorithm works, otherwise, you will not be able to take advantage of the best that Instagram offers.
The biggest confusion arose when Instagram moved away from a chronological feed because, since then, many factors affect where your post and story will be placed.
When they were changing the feed, the Instagram team said that they care about showing memorable moments and personal content to you.
So the Instagram algorithm will try to learn who your friends and family are, which it does by analyzing what you like and comment on.
Additionally, it will display content similar to the content you interact with a lot.
While the chronological feed is no more, the Instagram algorithm still pays attention to which post is older and which is newer, and puts the more recent ones closer to the top of the feed.
Find out how the Instagram algorithm works for:
- IGTV and reels
Instagram’s feed ranking criteria are based on 6 factors of which three are considered main and three are additional.
The three main ranking factors are – interest, review, and relationship.
The three factors which are not main, but still important are – frequency, following, and usage
What Instagram thinks the user will be interested in, based on his/her previous reach and engagement, has the best chance of being on the top of the feed. The algorithm achieves this by analyzing your behavior and the content of the post in parallel.
Here the algorithm mostly takes into account what the user has been doing in the last week.
The relationship also plays a big role in ranking and it is a primary interaction of the two profiles. For example how many times have they commented on posts, shared content, and similar.
Frequency refers to how often you visit your Instagram profile and then the most interesting posts from the last visit are ranked accordingly.
This is important because post ranking is not the same for someone who spends 10 minutes a day on Instagram and someone who spends several hours.
The more people you follow, the less often you will see the content of one specific person, but the algorithm will rather try to show you the best of each one.
Do you just look at the best posts or dig deeper and spend more time on your feed? Instagram measures this too.
The algorithm considers fewer factors when ranking stories than posts on the feed.
Mostly the accounts you most engage with are first on the story feed. That is why it is very important to improve the engagement with users.
In addition to engagement, the algorithm also pays attention to the time the story is published, so the algorithm will try to show you the most recent stories from the people you interact with the most.
It is good to publish stories as often as possible because there will surely be a moment when people have watched all the relevant stories for them and now you are at the beginning of their story feed.
So you have to seize that opportunity and the only way to do so is to publish at least a few stories a day.
IGTV and reels
IGTV has been here for a long time, while IG reels are a new option that Instagram added during 2021.
IG reels were created to be a TikTok competition.
It is a way to create fun and engaging video content that lasts for 15 to 30 seconds.
Since this is a new option, it is not yet 100% certain exactly how the algorithm ranks, but so far it could be concluded that the algorithm ranks IGTV and reels very similarly to posts on the feed.
The primary content is the one posted by the account with which the interaction was made before. The second characteristic is the type of post and whether it is the type of post with which the user engages often.
6. Instagram trends for 2021
If you run an Instagram page for a business, the fact that Instagram reach is on a decline isn’t the best news of 2021, but there’s still hope.
You don’t need to be discouraged because there are a lot of ways to keep your Instagram business profile very successful.
Here are some Instagram trends for 2021 that will help you get more engagement and reach despite the algorithm changes:
- Quality before quantity
- More relatable influencers
- More natural filters and the no-edit trend
- User-generated content – sharing images of clients and followers
- In-app shopping
Quality before quantity
We live in a consumer society and hyperproduction is very pronounced in all fields of our lives.
It was a trend when it comes to social networks also, but it is not anymore.
Since the number of likes is no longer visible, much more attention is paid to quality, and not only to quantity, which is very positive.
This is positive for both the business and the mental health of the users.
The number of likes was the only measure of success. This cannot be positive when we talk about quality. It can only lead to the hyperproduction of posts which no one essentially pays attention to.
People often see that some of their friends liked a post so they like them automatically.
By hiding likes, Instagram is telling people to actually look at the content they really like.
Consequently, this will lead to people making better content, so 2021 and beyond will be all about quality posts.
More relatable influencers
People are getting tired of blatant and shallow ads influencers are spamming them with.
What they want is more genuine content and ads that at least have a story or something personal to them, so they don’t seem as fake.
This is where micro-influencers come in.
It is often the case that micro-influencers create more genuine content than people with thousands and millions of followers.
There are a few possible reasons for this: they either have more time or they care more about the content they post. Most often, it’s both.
Micro-influencers haven’t reached thousands of hundreds of followers yet, so they’re less famous, which leaves them with more free time to create better and more relatable content.
More natural filters and the no-edit trend
This trend started in the second half of 2020 and is one of the most prominent ones.
You’ve probably noticed the lack of animal filters on your feeds and the appearance of more natural-looking photos.
This is because heavy filters are left behind and softer-looking photos are becoming more popular.
People are getting tired of over-edited selfies where people don’t even look like themselves anymore, hence this trend.
Softer filters and fully unedited photos are taking over.
As it is increasingly popular for women to wear less makeup in real life, the same should be applied to IG photos. Natural beauty is the way to go.
User-generated content – sharing images of clients and followers
Instagram is the place where people go to promote their business and the best way is through interacting with their followers and clients.
By leaving comments on other business profiles and replying to people on your own, you have the opportunity to build a relationship with your followers.
You get to do the same via user-generated content.
In-app shopping is the thing for 2021.
Shopping online is quickly becoming more popular than going to brick-and-mortar stores. And that is a trend noticeable in all spheres. Now even food is bought mostly online, not to mention clothes and other similar things.
Since most customers use Instagram and other social networks to find new products and see reviews, Instagram has implemented an in-app shopping option to make everything much easier and more accessible.
As the pandemic is not over yet, it is certain that the dizzying trend of online shopping will only grow further in 2021 and that it is therefore necessary to include shoppable posts.
There is a shopping bag in the lower-left corner, and a shopping section has also been implemented.
Cross-promotion is a very effective “form of marketing promotion where customers of one product or service are targeted with the promotion of a related product.”
That’s something you need to do in 2021 on Instagram because you have feed, stories, IGTV, and reels at your disposal.
So you don’t have to cross-promote on several different social networks, but you can do everything within Instagram which is very convenient and also useful because the algorithm will react positively to it and result in higher rankings.
Just because Instagram’s reach has been on a decline doesn’t mean this platform is unusable, on the contrary. It’s still pretty popular and businesses are using it more than ever, both for organic and paid engagement.
Business owners are paying for ads, working with influencers, and maybe most importantly, they’re creating quality content.
The algorithm is constantly changing, but even that shouldn’t be a problem for you, because you can always adapt to those changes.
If you are regularly informed about changes in the algorithm, you can even have an advantage over the competition, which may react more slowly.
Hopefully, this article has helped you learn something about the upcoming Instagram trends and algorithm changes so you can prepare your profile in 2021.
Thank you for reading!