How to Beat the Instagram Algorithm as a Small Business

Instagram is one of the best social media platforms for small businesses. With the right content, promotions and collaborations with other businesses, you can build a large following. However, Instagram’s constant updates and adjustments can be super frustrating as a small business owner. The Instagram algorithm is always changing the ways in which customers interact with your business, one day you might be receiving hundreds of likes and comments on a post and the next day your post has only been seen by 10% of your followers.

So how do you stay on top of this ever-changing algorithm? Here, we explore some of the main features of Instagram, how to spot when they’re changing and stay on top of them.


This used to be Instagram’s bread and butter. Likes on your post were an indication of popularity and success as a small business. Sadly, this just doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

While Instagram likes are still a nice feature and a cute way to show support for a company, they don’t do much for reaching new customers and gaining traction on the app.

Commenting definitely still does more than liking, but a longer comment has more impact than a short one. When a user comments a single emoji or one or two words, it does less to promote the post than commenting a whole sentence.

Users tagging other users in comments is definitely still important though. One of the best ways to achieve this is by running an Instagram giveaway. If you’re able to offer a product for free, get users to tag a few friends in the comments and make sure they are following you in order to win. You can create even more buzz by asking entrants to repost the giveaway post to their stories and tag your account!

Saves & Shares

In recent weeks, saving and sharing content has become the new liking and commenting. Encouraging your customers to share your posts with their own followers is a sure fire way to gain new followers. But it’s also favoured by Instagram as a way to get you back on top of the algorithm.

If you’ve noticed that fewer people are seeing and engaging with your posts, asking your loyal customers to share and save posts is the key to getting out of this rut. And honestly, don’t feel embarrassed to do this. Your customers are following you because they want to support your company and they’re likely to understand that the Instagram algorithm can be tough on small businesses.


The incredible popularity of TikTok inspired Instagram to create their own short video feature: Reels. It’s essentially a direct copy of TikTok where users can create short snippets featuring music and text and edit them into fun and entertaining content.

As a newer feature, Reels are a great way to direct traffic to your profile. Creating a reel makes you more likely to show up on the For You page and therefore more likely to reach new customers.


Similar to Reels, this is Instagram’s take on YouTube. These are longer format videos that are often used as a chance for account owners to chat with their followers and tell them more about their business.

IGTV is a great way to show your customers who you are, talk them through your product and give them an insight into how you built your business. You only have to look at the sustained popularity of lifestyle vlogs on YouTube to understand that people are fascinated by watching how others live. People are generally inquisitive – or just plain nosy – and love getting to peek into other people’s lives and work.

Subscribe to the Small Business Bonfire Newsletter
And get your free one-page marketing plan template.