Instagram reach is down | Is Instagram dying (2021)?! | W3 Lab

Instagram reach is down | Is Instagram dying (2021)?!

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.

instagram - many instagram logos

It was at the forefront of advertising, precisely because of the aforementioned influencers and their influence on what their followers would buy and so on. 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.

Be it 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.

So let’s analyze the situation in detail and together come to a conclusion – Is Instagram dying in 2021?

Instagram reach is down | Is Instagram dying – table of contents

  1. Difference between reach and engagement
  2. Instagram reach
  3. Instagram engagement
  4. Is Instagram popular in 2021?
  5. How does the Instagram algorithm works?
  6. Instagram trends for 2021

1. Difference between reach and engagement

Today we will mention reach and engagement many times because it is necessary to understand and analyze reach and engagement to be able to conclude what the real situation is in terms of Instagram popularity in 2021. and beyond.

But first, we want to explain to you the exact difference between reach and engagement because a lot of people don’t know how to differentiate them.

And not only ordinary people, but also those who deal with social networks, write blogs on the subject and the like very often equate those two terms and give you the same advice on how to improve. And in fact, reach and engagement differ significantly.

The difference is not difficult to understand at all.

Reach is, hence the name, the number of people your Instagram post has reached.

So these are all those viewers who have seen your content and this is something to pay attention to when you want to increase the number of followers. Organic reach is especially important, but more on 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 of you or your content with users.

It is clear to you that reach and engagement are not the same and that success in the field of 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 all that reach that is not a consequence of paid promotion and similar tools. It is created exclusively “naturally”, which means that people came across your content and not that it was shown to them in a targeted way.

organic reach - letters - leaves
Organic reach is important. | Source: Pixabay

Organic reach is one of the most important factors for SEO and many other things, but it is also becoming increasingly difficult to achieve due to changes in the Instagram algorithm, which we will focus on later.

We will answer the following three questions:

  • Why organic reach 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.

the decline on instagram organic reach
The decline of Instagram organic reach

If you wonder why this is, the answer is simple: both Facebook and Instagram want you not to be able to reach and build 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 Instagram reach, a small number of likes, and other problems you have been facing lately due to changes in algorithms.

colorful shopping carts
You can buy the Instagram reach, but it can bring more harm than good. | Source: Wiki

Although many websites offer you 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 you 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 you to choose whether you 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 you more reach nor engagement.

And worst of all, your profile may be deleted. Instagram is constantly fighting fake followers, likes, etc., and even has updated its terms of use to identify and remove inauthentic accounts.

So for violating rules because you want to take a shortcut, you can lose everything you have achieved so far.

How to increase Instagram reach?

There are ways to help you increase Instagram reach legally and efficiently. All of this requires you to invest 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
  • Hashtags
  • Content exclusively for Instagram

Creating a posting schedule

Although the algorithm has not worked for years, so it ranks the posts by the time they are posted, you still need to take care of that and have a clear posting schedule.

posting schedule - calendar - sharpie pen - bracelet - necklace - camera
Posting schedule is very important for increasing Instagram reach. | Source: Unsplash

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 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 for you to make a schedule, and then when you stick to it, you will notice how reach grows.

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 constantly have to educate and inform yourself about new and different content types.

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 to you 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. B

ut you will only have a full insight when you try everything on your profile because not all followers are the same, so there is no one winning approach.

Savable and shareable content

You know when you come across some very useful or appealing post you want to save it and then you press the save button in the lower right corner below the photo.

It can be anything from a very nice photo of a landscape to a useful post where a workout is presented and so on.

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 so that the user will save it to avoid losing it.

The same goes for shareable content. There is nothing better for organic Instagram reach 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 you.


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 the exact function at certain times, so many people are still confused about how to use hashtags properly.

hashtag - instagram hashtags
Hashtags can still help you increase the Instagram reach.

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 you the same reach as before.

However, this does not mean that hashtags are no longer useful and that you should not use them, on the contrary.

It’s just important to know how to use them properly.

The first thing experts advise is to use fewer hashtags than before, much less than the allowed limit, but to be effective.

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 than some used by millions of people because that way no one will notice you.

What you should absolutely avoid is to use hashtags along with carousel posts and also to avoid long hashtags.

Content exclusively for Instagram

Do not try to use the same content for all social networks, websites, and blogs.

First of all, you need to know the characteristics of each social network, so Instagram as a very visual platform requires content in the form of photos and videos. And that’s 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 always create unique content for each platform but it is necessary to increase 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.

instagram engagement rate dropping - instagram engagement rate decline
Instagram engagement is in a decline!

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 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 a drop in engagement that brands and businesses noticed. Which makes sense, because organic posts were no longer guaranteed to be seen by people.

How to increase engagement on Instagram?

While 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, with engagement the fact that someone will see your post means nothing.

increasing graph - ruler - pens - notebook
There are some ways in which you can increase engagement on Instagram. | Source: Unsplash

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 stimulate users to get in touch with you.

So pay attention to creating stories, it is one of the best methods for engagement increasing and you will notice that very soon.

Go live

Instagram Live is an option that you should definitely use for two reasons.

The first reason is that when you start “live” you are automatically positioned at the beginning of the Stories feed of the person that is following you.

instagram live button
Instagram live button

This means that they will surely notice that you are live because you will be the first and a circle will also appear around your profile photo and it will be written that you are “live”. Instagram has a kind of “live” logo.

Also, it’s a great way to stimulate people to engage with you. During the live, they will leave comments, and you can invite someone to join your live.

It’s just important to think about when to start “live” because 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.

Write captions

Don’t be afraid to write a longer Instagram caption because you think no one will read it.

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 think about what you could write to be long, and yet interesting and to hold attention, and also to provide some important information.

You have up to 2,200 characters in your Instagram captions. And the average 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 to attracting their attention.

Organize giveaways

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.

giveaways - ping present - golden ribbon - bow
Giveaways are perfect for increasing engagement on Instagram. | Source: Unsplash

But in this case, if they want to participate in the giveaway they have to like share/repost/follow, or whatever else you ask of them.

So organize giveaways regularly and 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 and it will then attract the followers of that influencer to follow your profile and participate in the giveaway.

Once they follow you, many will continue to watch your content and engage with you so you will benefit from working with influencers in the long run.

Include CTA

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, and the like.

People will mostly answer them because it only takes them a few seconds and they also want to know the correct answer or see how other people think.

Certainly, Instagram is still popular in 2021 and remains one of 6 social networks that have more than a billion users.

Instagram is one of top 6 social networks in 2021. | Source: Wiki

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, the most popular age range is users 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 incline to TikTok even 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 females and 49% are males.

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.

Know 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 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 lower, but all of that would not affect us to change our answer to the question is Instagram still popular in 2021.

5. How does the Instagram algorithm works?

Maybe people think that the algorithm changes very little, but that is not true.

instagram algorithm - engagement rate decline
Instagram’s algorithm changes every year

All changes in the behavior of users are constantly monitored, as well as what gains and what loses in popularity, and changes in the algorithm are made accordingly.

Such changes happen almost constantly and that is why it is important to know how the algorithm works, otherwise, you will not be able to use the maximum that Instagram offers you.

The biggest confusion arose when Instagram moved away from a chronological feed because since then many factors affect where your post, story, or something else will be placed.

When they were changing the feed, they said that they care about showing you memorable moments and personal content, 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.

So we will break down for you how the Instagram algorithm works for:

  1. Feed
  2. Story
  3. IGTV and reels

1. Feed

Instagram’s feed ranking criteria are based on 6 factors of which three are considered main and three are additional.

The three main factors that will rank what someone will see on the feed 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 on the feed and there 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.

It affects this because it is not the same with someone who spends 10 minutes a day on Instagram and someone who spends more 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.

2. Story

The algorithm considers fewer factors when ranking stories than posts on the feed.

Mostly the accounts you are most engaged 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 when the story is published, so the algorithm will try to show you the most recent stories from the people you interact with the most.

instagram story icon
Publish Instagram stories as often as possible.

Since then it can easily happen that you are buried behind all the profiles of their friends and so on.

It is good to publish stories as often as possible because then there will surely be a moment when they 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 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, and then the type of post is looked at and whether it is the type of post with which the user is otherwise engaged.

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 of 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 a number of likes are no longer visible, it has been noticed that much more attention is paid to quality, and not only to quantity, which is very positive.

high quality - woman silhouette
High quality posts are becoming the norm. | Source: Pixabay

This is positive for both the business and the mental health of the users.

Because the number of likes was the only measure of success, and that could not be positive when we talk about quality, but it could only lead to the hyperproduction of posts to which no one essentially pays attention.

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 being shoved down their throats by influencers.

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 and not going to every event in the world, 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 ears and the surfacing of more natural-looking photos.

This is because heavy filters were 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 that women do not have make-up and the like, the same should be applied to IG photos. Show them something natural.

User-generated content – sharing images of clients and followers

Instagram is the place where people go to promote their businesses and the best way is through interacting with their followers and clients.

By leaving comments on other businesses ’ profiles and replying to people on your own, you get the opportunity to build a relationship with your followers.

You get to do the same via user-generated content.

In-app shopping

In-app shopping is the thing for 2021.

shoppable posts on instagram
Make shoppable posts ASAP!

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 rank you high.


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 leave 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 so you can prepare your profile in 2021.

Thank you for reading!

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