DISCLAIMER: Links included in this post might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links that I provide I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you! Thank you for supporting me so I can continue to provide you with free content each week on my blog and on my YouTube channel!
If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen a dip in your reach on Instagram lately and maybe you’re wondering… “Am I shadowbanned?”
In this video, you will learn how to calculate your current reach and how to actually increase that reach. We will also check to see if you are indeed shadowbanned AND go over two things that are preventing you from getting maximum reach.
What is Reach on Instagram?
What is reach? Your reach on Instagram is the estimated number of unique accounts that have seen your post, reel, or story at least once.
For clarification, reach is different from impressions. Impressions include multiple views of your post by the same accounts. We are focusing on reach in this video, and more specifically, reach from your posts or reels.
We will not be talking about stories in this post because there’s a slightly different strategy for stories.
How to Calculate Your Average Reach on Instagram
The first thing you need to know to increase your reach is what your average reach is currently.
Go to Insights, click on either Reels or Posts (whichever you want insights for) and organize by “Reach” from the “Last 3 Months”.
It should look similar to the picture on the right whether you’re looking at Reels or Posts.
I prefer to filter by the last 3 months because it weighs the most recent data and content I’ve been feeding to the algorithm. Not posts from like a year ago that might give me skewed results.
To see what your average is, you can calculate it by adding the total number of accounts reached and dividing that by the number of posts. So it would look like this:
Total Reach ÷ Number of Posts = Reach
Or you can estimate the median by going to the video in the middle of this list to give a general idea.
I’ll show you both.
So here you see my list of 22 videos I’ve posted over the past 3 months. I’m going to add up all the numbers on the bottom and divide by the number of videos (I’m not including my top-performing post, I’ll explain why in a second).
Using the equation from above I get:
698,191 ÷ 21 = 33,247
So my average number of accounts reached on Reels is 33k.
Which is pretty spot on with the other method. Just select the middle video, which my two middle videos are at 31k and 29k accounts reached. And obviously, the method and calculations are the same for both Reels and In-Feed Posts.
Why You Should Know Your Average Reach
Why is knowing your average reach important? Because THIS is the number that you want to increase over time.
A common mistake I see people make is that they start playing the comparison game. They see someone else’s reach and they think “oh THAT’S what I need to be hitting in order to be successful” or “that’s what my engagement should be at”.
No, that’s exactly what I don’t want you doing when you see my numbers.
Don’t compare your reach or engagement to my reach or engagement. We have completely different profiles, niches, audiences, account age, and so many more factors. Focus on YOUR account, YOUR unique numbers and what YOU have control over.
How to Increase Your Reach on Instagram
Now that you know your average reach, how can you increase that number?
Look For Trends In Your Insights
Using the list we pulled up earlier (posts organized by Reach over the Last 3 Months), look at the posts above and below your average reach.
What is working for you and what isn’t working?
You want to try to re-create the success of top-performing posts and re-evaluate your approach for the bottom-performing posts.
Notice how I didn’t say “stay away” from bottom-performing posts. Maybe there’s a post at the bottom that you really liked or thought your audience would love.
You don’t have to “stay away” from that sort of content necessarily, but you can adjust your approach the next time you create similar content.
This is what I found after looking at my In-Feed Posts:
- Instagram updates always perform well
- Twitter posts don’t perform well
- When the text in a post is small, it doesn’t perform as well as when I have text that fills up the screen
- Almost ALL of the videos below my average are videos of me talking to the camera
- When I use other audios and adapt them to my niche, creating relatable content, THAT performs well
- And then the TOP TOP performing post is this one here
This brings me to the next tip.
Collaborate With Other People
When you post a collaboration on your profile, it posts onto BOTH people’s accounts.
Which is the reason I originally didn’t include this video in my average reach because it wasn’t just MY reach. It was mine AND brocks reach. If I did include this video, it would say my average reach was:
2,098,191 ÷ 22 = 95,372
See, that’s way off and misleading. But did this video help increase my reach? Absolutely. It brought in someone else’s entire audience.
Collaborating with other people in your niche is a great way to 1. make friends and 2. reach a similar audience type to you.
The best way to do this is by pitching a specific idea to the person. As you can see here in our conversation, I went to brock with the concept. Luckily for me, he’s one of the nicest human beings in the world and it worked out!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Not only is this method great for the environment, but it’s great for your sanity.
I am always reusing and repurposing my content. I take my YouTube script, turn it into a carousel post, which then eventually gets turned into a short form video, that gets posted to Reels & TikTok (and soon Shorts will be added into this strategy).
You don’t have to always be re-inventing the wheel with every single post you make. That’s how you get burnout. I literally have a caption that I’ve recycled over 5 times in the past 2 years. Your audience won’t notice.
Re-purposing content that works well is a great way to boost your reach when you need a refresher. And if a post flops on Instagram, it doesn’t mean it won’t do well on another platform.
This is also part of a strategy called Cross Promoting your other channels! When you’re cross-promoting your channels, you can funnel more viewers and more traffic to whatever social media platform you want.
For example, my main platform is YouTube, but on YouTube, I’m constantly talking about my Instagram and TikTok, which naturally helps me increase followers, thus increasing reach, without having to post all day every day.
Now if you’re like “Millie, I can barely post to Instagram and you want me to post to three places!? Yeah right!”, I don’t blame you.
You can always try using tools like Jellysmack to edit your videos and tailor them to each specific platform so that you can stay focused on doing what you love creating content.
Help Instagram Help You
In this article, Shedding More Light on How Instagram Works Instagram explains exactly how they rank posts in Feed and in Explore.
Instagram ranks content based on signals they receive from each user.
The most important signals across Feed, roughly in order of importance, are:
- Information about the post: the content, how many people have liked it, when it was posted, how long it is if it’s a video and location.
- Information about the person who posted: how interested a user might be to you, how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks.
- Your activity: comparing this post to posts you’ve liked in the past.
- Your history of interacting with someone.
Then for Explore ranking, these are the signals roughly in order of importance:
- Information about the post: how many and how quickly other people are liking, commenting, sharing, and saving a post.
- Your history of interacting with the person who posted.
- Your activity: what posts you’ve liked, saved or commented on and how you’ve interacted with posts in Explore in the past.
- Information about the person who posted.
Yes, this is a lot. I don’t blame you if you skimmed through that.
The biggest takeaway is that you can’t control how people interact with your content. But you CAN control who YOU interact with.
You can also control creating topically consistent content so that Instagram knows how to categorize you and knows who to push your content to AND have control of your positioning.
If you want to be known as a fitness instructor, post like that. Engage with other fitness instructors and their audiences! Then Instagram will have a much easier time sharing your content with the right people.
This is a shortened version of how Instagram’s algorithm works. For a deeper look into their algorithm, read my other post by clicking that link right there. It’s good stuff.
Instagram is a give-and-take platform. If you want to increase engagement, you need to… engage!
If you want to increase reach, you need to… reach!
Basically, what I mean by that is to create more connections and reach out to more people. Simple as that.
3 Things That Prevent You From Growing on Instagram
Now, even if you do all 5 of these things, there might be some roadblocks preventing you from hitting your maximum reach. Let’s talk about these three roadblocks:
- Your Current Audience
- The Algorithm
What is shadowbanning and is it even real?
Shadowbanning is a term people use to explain all sorts of things that might be happening to them on Instagram. Less reach, posts being removed, fewer likes, not showing up in hashtags, etc.
In 2018, Instagram did a press release with Tech Crunch saying, “Shadowbanning is not a real thing, and Instagram says it doesn’t hide people’s content for posting too many hashtags or taking other actions.”
But then, more recently in 2021, Adam Mosseri posted THIS on his Twitter (watch from 8:34-8:58):
How To Check If Your Instagram Account Is Being Restricted?
To check if your account is restricted or “shadowbanned”, follow these steps:
Go to your Profile ➝ click the 3 lines on the top right ➝ ‘Account’ ➝ ‘Account Status’
If you have no violations, you’re likely not “shadowbanned” and something else is getting in the way.
Your Current Audience
If your reach has slowly decreased over time, it’s time to take a look at your current followers.
Are they your ideal client? Did you recently go through a rebrand?
I’ve noticed a trend with most people who have grown their Instagram “un-organically” or by using outdated strategies (buying followers, participating in group giveaways, or even engagement groups) OR who have re-branded and changed the content they post.
These accounts see the biggest drop in reach. And we’re trying to increase our reach, right?
This happens because your audience isn’t actually interested in you or what you’re creating anymore. Because of that, Instagram stops pushing your content out to those people.
To fix this, don’t keep changing your content strategy. Keep posting to your target audience. You may also have to do a little bit of spring cleaning and remove fake, bot or inactive followers. Or simply start a new account from scratch.
If you’re not sure which one to do, I love this post from Brock. It’s a great guideline for helping you decide.
I don’t mean “the algorithm is out to get you”.
I actually want you to stop blaming the algorithm for why you can’t increase reach, or for your lack of engagement or growth or whatever.
A lot of us get stuck in this mindset or way of thinking:
“Anytime a post flops it’s because of the algorithm.”
Because when you blame the algorithm, that means you think you’re doing everything right.
As creators, we need to start taking some ownership and accountability. Always be looking for ways you can improve your content and show up better for your audience.
AND especially stop complaining about the algorithm when YOU, YOURSELF are a ghost follower.
How many people do you follow? Are you supporting them the way you want your followers to support you? Or are you being a ghost follower?
Let’s start showing up for each other and spread love and support!
I know the algorithm is frustrating because it’s always changing, but there are so many other areas we can focus on to improve.
Now, if you’re someone who is needing some extra help with growing on Instagram, I have a free 10-page workbook that teaches you ‘5 steps to grow 10,000 followers in 30 days‘.
These were the steps I took! The e-book is free and interactive so you can apply what you learn as you’re learning.
And if you’re really ready to take your Instagram growth to the next level, check out my Instagram Influencer Course for everything I know and have done to grow my Instagram and make a living as an Influencer.
Follow your joy!