How to connect with your favorite creators despite shitty algorithms

Yeeps, it’s brutal out there. Instagram appears to be going the way of post-2016 Twitter. It’s getting harder and harder to curate your online space the way YOU want, with more and more bullshit sneaking in through the cracks.

Jump to the tips!

Social media used to be a nice place to connect with other people, to build a community and keep in touch with old friends and find new ones, and see cool art and beautiful photographs. And now it seems like every platform is becoming a corporate controlled marketing cesspool of bad news, bots, ads, short-form video, and spam. 

We’re seeing fewer and fewer posts by the people we follow. Instead we’re being fed a bunch of suggested accounts and sponsored posts and fucking reels that no one ever asked for. Content with certain keywords is being censored — oh sorry, I mean deprioritized for safety. The F-word though? Really?

What is the point of social media if we can’t socialize? Why do I even follow people if I’m not going to see their posts? I MISS THE INTERNET OF TEN YEARS AGO 

As a business owner, it’s been damn near impossible lately to connect with the people who love my art and buy my products. And it’s not just me—many (all?) small businesses, artists, and creators are suffering. We rely on social media to share our work, promote our goods and services, connect with our customers and friends, get the newest news and the hottest goss, and yes, turn our brains off for a while. 

And we’re not suffering because we’re failures as business owners/content creators/human beings. It’s because the corporations that own the platforms we use to promote our livelihoods keep fucking with the algorithms and the tweaks are simply not in our favor.

Currently, the algorithm prioritizes accounts that consistently create engaging content that keeps users on the platform longer. In general this means that reels from large accounts with large followings typically perform the best, because those are the accounts that get the most engagement, because they have the most followers to see their posts. The more people who see your posts, the more people will engage with your content, and the more the algorithm will show that content to more and more people.

If you are a small account or don’t play the game by the rules (ie. you are an artist who just wants to make and share art, not be a short form video producer or marketing professional with social media as your full time job) your posts don’t get shown to people, not even your own followers.

I’m real fucking tired of not making sales because someone else is dictating the way I’m expected to show up online and controlling who sees my content, and I’m real fucking tired of not seeing the people and businesses I care about because some stupid robot decides what content I do and do not see.

I don’t really know what the answer is to the shitty algorithm question, but it’s probably not abandoning the Instagram ship altogether.

So I put together a handy list of little things you can do to keep in touch with your favorite artists, makers, creators, and small businesses, both on and off Instagram, despite shitty algorithms and sneaky data scraping.

The Tips

Engage with their content!

This one is huge (that’s why it’s first)!

The more you engage—like, comment, share, save—the more the algorithm will show you their stuff! So always double tap to Like the posts of people who’s stuff you love! Leave a comment: drop an emoji, ask a question, tag a friend. Share a reel to your stories. Send a story to your friends. Save posts to come back to later.

Content that gets a ton of interaction is prioritized. This means the algorithm will show these posts to more people. Interacting and engaging is how you see more of the stuff you love while also helping to get more eyes on creators’ posts. It’s probably the No. 1 easiest way to support your favorite accounts and businesses.

(This also means: don’t argue in the comments, share shitty posts, or tag shitty people. The algorithm doesn’t know you’re calling someone out for their shitty behavior, all it sees is a flurry of activity and start promoting the shit out of that shitty account, and nefarious users know this and will exploit it to drive traffic. DO NOT FALL FOR THE TROLL BAIT.)

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Turn on IG post notifications!

Turn on Instagram post notifications for the creators you love and get a little pinged push notification on your phone whenever they share a new post, story, or reel.

How to turn on post notifications: Navigate to any user’s profile and tap the bell icon in the top right corner and choose which types of notifications you’d like to receive.

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Join their IG broadcast channels!

This is a totally underutilized feature of Instagram! Creators have the option to create special notification “broadcast channels” that you can join in order to receive direct messages from the brand right in your IG inbox. This means you can opt in and get notified whenever the creator shares an announcement or blog post or reminder or update and you’ll see it right in your DMs which means you’ll never miss an update! In general you won’t be able to reply or chat with the business this way but it’s so handy to get updates from those folks you really super care about!

How to join a broadcast channel: If a user has a broadcast channel set up, you can find it by navigating to their profile and looking for the channel name under their links. If one is available, there will be a little chat bubble icon on the left and bold title with “### members” to the right. Tap on it to preview the channel, then tap the “Join” button.

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Scroll your IG feed from the Following tab!

Did you know there’s a way to see a chronological feed of only the accounts you follow on purpose? To find it in the mobile app, tap the “Instagram” logo at the top left of your main feed and select “Following” from the drop down menu.

With the Following feed, you can scroll through only accounts you follow — no annoying ads or sponsored posts or suggestions!!! and **in chronological order** 😱😱😱😱😱😱

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Add them to your IG Favorites!

You can add up to fifty accounts to your Instagram Favorites and view them in their own special feed. Access it the same way you found your Following tab: In the mobile app, tap the “Instagram” logo at the top left of your main feed and select “Favorites” from the drop down menu.

How to add a creator to your favorites: In the mobile app, navigate to a user’s profile, then tap the “Following” button and “Add to favorites” in the drop down menu.

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Add them to your IG Close Friends!

You can also add your favorite accounts to your Close Friends list and Instagram will prioritize showing you posts and stories from those accounts the same way it prioritizes your Favorites.

Keep in mind that anyone you add to your close friends will be able to see any private reels or stories you share to your Close Friends list.

How to add a user to your Close Friends: Navigate to your profile and tap the 3-line hamburger icon in the top right corner, scroll down and select “Close Friends,” then choose anyone you’re following to add to your Close Friends list, or use the search bar to add someone you’re not following.

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Find them on other social media platforms!

Most creators are not only on Instagram but may also be utilizing Tiktok, Facebook, Threads, Discord, Tumblr, Pinterest, Substack, Youtube, Spotify, Mastodon, Bluesky, Twitch, Snapchat, Reddit, LinkedIn, and more for social connection and art sharing.

Check out the link in their Instagram bio or the contact page on their website to find the other social platforms they’re using. (You may have to scroll all the way to the bottom to find it, just look for a series of social media icons and click the ones where you like to hang out.)

You may even find a new favorite place to hang out 🙂

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Subscribe to their newsletter!

This is so important! You want the artists you love to show up directly in your email inbox because it will remind you that they exist. If you opt in to their email marketing, they won’t ever get lost in a flood of suggested posts or ads and you will always get their most important news right when you need it. (And you can always unsubscribe at any time.)

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Bonus tip! Join their subscription memberships! 

Patreon, Kofi, or private membership sites are a great way to stay connected with your favorite small businesses. Typically creators offer different tiers at various costs and rewards, but there is often also a free version too that allows you to access some of the special content at no cost and you’ll usually get a notification or email when they post something new.

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So those are my tips and tricks for staying connected with your favorite artists, makers, and creatives in a time of shitty social media algorithms!

What other tips do you have for staying connected on Instagram? What other social media platforms are you using lately? Leave a comment and let me know!

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