A Social Media Review for the Year and 10 Ways to Beat the Algorithm!

I’m sitting here writing this blog post whilst having many conversations with people on Instagram about how bad our engagement is on the platform at the moment.

It’s got to the point where we are laughing about how bad our reach is, so where do I even start with a social media review and how 2022 has been on all the prominent platforms?

My Social Media Review

The Instagram star has been shining brightly for several years now, but is it starting to lose its shine to TikTok? I have a few friends who have teenage children, and they all dismiss Instagram quite quickly, preferring the fast-paced world of TikTok in all its unedited glory.

I’ve even heard the word “cringe” from a few older teenagers when describing Instagram and a lot of my friends and family who aren’t Influencers or Content Creators have not posted on Instagram for a year or so.

Why would they? Why would they spend time trying to carefully curate a perfect world summed up in a quick 10-second Reel?

In a social media review article published by The Wall Street Journal, they report that Instagram users spend 17.6 million hours a day watching Reels. However, TikTok users spend 197.8 million hours watching content. That is a HUGE difference.

It also revealed that Reels’ engagement has dropped by 13.6% in the last few months, which will explain why we are experiencing laughable engagement. Back in the summer, many celebrities spoke up about Instagram constantly trying to merge itself into TikTok, with one user – Tati Bruening, posting a graphic saying:

instagram post by illumitati
Image credit: @illumitati

Make Instagram Instagram Again. (Stop trying to be TikTok. I just want to see cute photos of my friends.)

It literally broke the internet with the Kardashian sisters reposting the graphic in their stories. I think we are all thinking the same thing.

kitchen with dark navy island, white quartz worktop, fluted island pendants, metro tiles, wooden flooring and open shelving
The last image I posted on Instagram was back at the beginning of November. I have only posted around 10 images for the whole of 2022 as it was no longer helping me grow followers on Instagram

With Reels now being the dominant content on Instagram, 2022 saw most of us ditching the still image and trying to keep up with the fast-paced nature of Reels (or slow-paced, just nothing in between).

If one account went viral with several million views, everyone would try and jump on board, producing very similar content with the same audio hoping to have the same success.

Trends were (and still are) the best way to get engagement and new followers. Unfortunately, this means our Reel tab would become a scroll of IKEA hacks (guilty), painted tile flooring, and people stirring their coffees in the kitchen.

Bespoke IKEA Billy bookcases built in around a biofuel fireplace in the living room. Painted sage green with lots of plants and a pink velvet sofa.
My IKEA Billy bookcase hack that took me nearly 4 weeks to complete

I feel that, in 2022, Instagram began stifling creativity as new content, room transformations and projects I worked really hard on would fall on deaf ears. I would inevitably go back to 1-second videos of different shots in my house, all pulled together in a 7-second Reel (why 7 seconds seems to be the golden timeframe, I have no idea!).

However, if you get your content spot on and get a few viral Reels under your belt, the potential for engagement and new followers is huge. This is by far the best way to beat the algorithm and grow followers on Instagram.

There are no quick fixes, it’s just hard work and determination!

algorithm written in letters with robots

I have seen some very well-deserved accounts absolutely fly in 2022. They have an eye for wonderful content and know what their followers like.

It’s not all about being able to beat the algorithm, it is about finding out what works for your account and it is good to see very talented people get rewarded for their content.

I hear so many people talking about how their content never gets shown and their engagement is shocking. It’s not you (well, it might be…), it’s the other 1.2 billion Instagram accounts out there.

The social media world has become hugely over-saturated, so if we want to grow followers on Instagram and be seen, we all have to try a little bit harder.

man trying to delete Instagram from an iphone
We’re all trying to get a slice of that Instagram pie and work out how to beat the algorithm

There have been so many accounts that I loved that have disappeared throughout 2022.

I know creating Reels was a big turn-off for a lot of people and what was really a hobby; posting still images of their home a few times a week, suddenly became a full-time job with users becoming stylists, creating voiceovers, videographers, film directors, and editors all at once.

two ladies filming with a camera and tripod for social media

I also think that the general public has stopped using and engaging on Instagram as much and moved on to other things. Sometimes Instagram can feel like a bit of a content creator echo chamber.

It’s full of influencers and content creators patting each other on the back for yet another lovely Reel of their kitchen/holiday/OOTD and saying the same old thing in comments.

Are we all getting bored of it? Maybe…

Social Media Review: What have been the big trends on Instagram in 2022?

Laptop with online written on the screen and a miniature shopping trolley with boxes in it
Instagram shopping is growing fast!
  • Live streams have grown in popularity and are now the most preferred video marketing strategy. The business generated by live-streaming is set to reach $184.3 billion by 2027
  • Brands will seek to work with relatable Nano Influencers (accounts with 100 to 10,000 followers)
  • Cross-promoting Twitter and Instagram content. With the rise of the meme, many accounts have used Twitter posts as still images on Instagram
  • Instagram shopping is growing from strength to strength

Social Media Review: TikTok

Woman holding an iphone creating a TikTok video
Photo by Aaron Weiss on Unsplash

This leads me to TikTok and the TikTok algorithm. Love it or hate it, it is here to stay and as a content creator, it is a channel you really need to get on board with. Sorry!

In 2022, I started to see many more requests from brands to create content for TikTok alone and if it wasn’t for this social media platform, I might have struggled slightly financially.

With so many amazing accounts on Instagram now fighting for a slice of the (brand advertisement) pie, I have seen the number of brands wanting to work with me decline and their budgets decrease.

The main reason for this is there are a lot of Instagram accounts out there that are producing fantastic content so brands have a bigger talent pool to choose from. Brands are also looking to work with accounts that have a smaller audience as their engagement tends to be better. 

2022 has also been a difficult year for many with the cost of living beginning to bite and budgets reducing globally.

piggy bank with a label saying help!

Only this week I received an email from a large and reputable influencer marketing company that is seeking emergency funding. This is due to many brands holding off on campaigns or canceling them altogether. 

In 2022, TikTok became the most downloaded app in the world, surpassing Instagram and Twitter. It is about to overtake YouTube as the social media platform users spend the most time watching which is a massive accomplishment.

The TikTok algorithm

@melaniejadedesign TikTok profile screenshot
My TikTok account has grown steadily this year. I’m still trying to work out the TikTok algorithm!

Where do I start with TikTok? I have to admit, I really like the platform. I find it fun, engaging, and easy to use. I do not feel pressure to create content for the TikTok algorithm and I find it a lot less stressful than Instagram. I don’t care how many views my videos get or how many followers I have.

I find creating content for TikTok enjoyable and most of the time I just post my content and leave the app, popping back in again occasionally throughout the day. This is a huge difference from Instagram where we seem to have a long list of views to get engagement and beat the algorithm.

Including;

  • Engage for 10 minutes before and after posting on Instagram
  • Make sure you are engaging with people in your niche
  • Make sure you send DMs to people in your niche
  • Make sure you keep your Reels short and sweet
  • Be as informative as possible (in a 7-second Reel? Say what?)
  • Don’t go outside of your niche

And so on and so on…

I have to admit, I gave up on these “rules” at the beginning of the year as my enthusiasm for Instagram started declining fast.

find a niche written on a post-it note
Finding your niche has always been important if you want to grow followers on Instagram. TikTok, not so much

Yes, these rules might apply to the TikTok algorithm as well. But I rarely engage with anyone on the platform, I don’t send any messages and I don’t think about how informative or long my TikTok videos are.

Maybe my TikTok account would be huge if I did, but I’m still getting viral TikTok’s at least once or twice a month, so I don’t feel like I have to. It does seem that to beat the algorithm on TikTok, quantity over quality is a winning formula and occasionally you might hit the jackpot.

My videos can go from 1200 views to 900,000 views in the space of 24 hours so it doesn’t really matter how many followers you have. If people like your content, TikTok will push it out onto its FYP immediately and you can just sit and watch the likes and comments come in (the comments need a blog post on their own!)

troll with green hair on a table surrounded by alcohol bottles

If you want to grow fast on TikTok, the only way to do it is by posting often. And when I say often, I mean 2 to 3 times a day. I ain’t got time for that and I’m not about to start so I have made peace with how I conduct my TikTok account and in doing so, I enjoy it so much more.

Social Media Review: What have been the big trends on TikTok in 2022?

Trends written in scrabble blocks
  • TikTok shop became one of their biggest features in 2022. It enables users to buy products in the app without having to open a web browser. This is a brilliant way for Influencers to earn extra commission by highlighting products on their TikTok shopping tab
  • The beauty of TikTok is that trends can come out of nowhere. One of the biggest trends of 2021 was the Celine Dion lip-syncing challenge where users sang along to the song “All Coming Back to Me Now”. There have been others such as Britney Spears’s Toxic Dance Challenge, Amazon Finds, and the current trending video, CapCut Boat template with the Titanic theme tune in the background. So random and I love it!
  • TikTok launched TikTok Now, its very own BeReal clone. This feature prompts users daily to capture real-time photos of what they’re doing at that precise moment, using the front and back cameras on their phones. I’m still unsure as to whether this will really take off or not.
  • Tiktok is definitely becoming THE place for creators. With the Creator Fund already compensating creators for their content, you can now get TikTok Tips, Subscriptions, and their newest offering, TikTok Pulse. TikTok Pulse will give creators with 100,000+ followers a 50% split of ad revenue from TikTok. I guess it really pays to put all your efforts into creating top content for TikTok!

Which Leaves Facebook…

an old facebook profile screenshot on an iphone
Back in the simpler days of Facebook before it tried to become everything.

Ha! As if I was going to talk about Facebook. Although I have a few thousand followers on my Facebook account, I never go on the platform. I post my new blog posts on there every week but that’s it.

However, I do find I get nearly as much engagement from Facebook as I do from Instagram when it comes to driving traffic to my blog, which is interesting. Of all the big social media platforms, I believe it’s Facebook that is really dying a death.

The only thing that is noteworthy about Facebook is the introduction of Reels on the platform this year. This has had a huge impact on my engagement and a lot of my Reels that have surpassed 100k views, have done so because they have been seen on Facebook.

So, I won’t discount it yet!

How to Grow Followers on Instagram and TikTok and Beat the Algorithm!

ikea malm chest of drawers hack with shelving and window in the bedroom
My IKEA Malm chest of drawers hack. The transformation of these drawers has the highest amount of views on TikTok yet. It was a bit of a damp squib on Instagram…

It has been harder to be seen on social media in 2022 and every year it gets more difficult. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why a video or still image does well on social media and what will work for some, may not work for others.

I have always enjoyed upcycling furniture, way before I was on social media. However, my upcycles and IKEA hacks never really seemed to take off.

However, people enjoy my 7 second Reels of different rooms and my stop motions, so I will be producing more of these in the future. I have to say, I’m quite glad about that! Producing a stop motion is so much easier than creating a full-on IKEA hack Reel!

I am constantly reading about how you have to come up with a social media strategy to get ahead, but in my REAL experience, the Reels and TikToks I pop up on a whim always seem to perform the best.

There is no harm in having a strategy, it helps define what your account is about and helps you to stay within your niche (because God forbid I, as an interior account, were to post anything outside my house!). But I think a certain amount of spontaneity goes a long way on social media.

How Do You Beat the Instagram Algorithm?

Here are 10 strategies to beat the algorithm and grow followers on Instagram –

1. Audio is King!

I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to realize this, but audio is everything on Reels and TikTok and I think this is the reason why so much of my content suffered in 2022.

For reasons only known to Instagram, it took away my music library back in March and I could only use random “original audio” or songs no one had ever heard of. Whilst many people were going viral with trending audio, I was left using voiceovers and songs downloaded from 3rd party apps.

Instagram has obviously rolled out a new update with audio recently and I now have full use of the music library again. And surprise, surprise, my Reel views have increased dramatically.

The trick here is to jump on trending audio IMMEDIATELY.

If you hear something you like and it has less than 10k views, get that audio into a Reel. Voiceover audio has been a huge hit for me and the more amusing or relatable to social media, the better.

If you want to know how to find trending audio, I wrote a blog post about it on my other website – Niche Pro SEO.

2. Keep Posting the Same Thing

Yes, you read that right! If a Reel went viral for you, it’s more than likely that it will go viral again. Your followers obviously love this kind of content from your account, and we are creatures of habit.

Think of it this way. Lewis Capaldi is known for his big ballads. If he was suddenly to bring out a heavy metal tune, everyone would think he’d lost the plot.

People follow you for a reason and finding out what content they like best is key. Just keep posting it again and again! Or a variation of it at least.

sign posts with content written on them

3. Create Reels Frequently and Consistently.

We all know this. We all know consistency is key if we want to grow followers on Instagram. It’s all about basic statistics. One of my Reels will get 17k views, and a few more will get over 100k views. Then one might go viral.

They tend to come out of the blue but as a rule of thumb goes, the more you post, the more likely you will get more views and viral ones too.

4. Keep Up with Those Trends

Now, I use this strategy lightly. Mainly because, when IKEA hacks were having their moment, and everyone seemed to be jumping on board the “trend” my IKEA hacks seemed to limp through the moment.

Don’t get me wrong, they did well, but they never went mental like others on the platform. It is wise to keep an eye on the trends if you want to beat the algorithm. But, a bit like audio, jump on them quickly.

You don’t really have to do anything either. In the home décor niche, a lot of the big trends come from funny audios and matching your Reel to that.

We’ve had “don’t put on the big light” to “sitting around my home eating snacks”. Most accounts that jumped on these trends quickly would see their views go through the roof!

5. The Still Image is Making a Tentative Comeback

green velvet sofa and gallery wall in the living room
This image is still my best-performing post ever. I will never understand how it got over 24,000 likes! This image alone was amazing at helping me to grow followers on Instagram alone. 

I think the last still image I posted disappeared into the ethernet before it even got a chance to shine. I decided there and then that I was done with posting images (and I must admit, I prefer filming videos!)

However, looking at Instagram at the moment, I am seeing an increasing amount of still images appearing on my daily scroll. Has Instagram finally taken heed of all the people moaning about it turning into TikTok? Is it giving room to still images once again?

It would appear so and by the look of the likes and comments on images, they are pushing still images back out onto our home feeds again.

This is good news! I think there is enough room for Reels and images on Instagram and I missed stopping and taking in the detail of people’s homes and travel photos.

6. Do NOT Delete Content That Hasn’t Performed Very Well

the delete key on a keyboard
Don’t delete!

If 2022 has taught me anything it’s these four things –

  • Reels I very nearly didn’t post because I thought they were a bit crap, went on to go viral
  • Reels that initially were a slow burner, would suddenly pick up the pace a few weeks later. I would be baffled as to why my follower count suddenly started to go up until I realized this had happened.
  • Reels might not be pushed out to your audience or the Reel tab, but then will be pushed out to the Facebook Reels tab and suddenly get you 100,000 views!
  • Deleting Reels content may have an impact on your reach. If you don’t delete Reels regularly and then start to do it, the algorithm notes this as unusual activity and can have a negative impact. It is no secret that the algorithm likes consistency!

These are all brilliant reasons why you should never delete content that doesn’t do well. In fact, we need content that doesn’t do well to teach us what our audience does not like to see, so we can concentrate on creating better content.

7. Collaborate with Other Accounts

As they always say, we are better together, and collaborating with other accounts is one of the best ways to get eyes on your content. Creating a team effort Reel and then posting it to each collaborator’s account will immediately boost your views and get you new followers.

Sharing your audience with others has huge benefits in the long run.

8. Post Carousels Instead of One Image

pink bedroom with green velvet bed
When I redecorated our bedroom, I used this as the first image in a carousel of 6 images! It outperformed any other still I had posted this year.

This has worked wonders for me this year when the still image seemed to die a death at the beginning of 2022. Photos that used to get me tens of thousands of likes were now struggling to get over 1,000 likes and I didn’t post a still image for over 6 months.

However, I found that if I posted a carousel (2 or more images in the same post), this would have an impact on my views. It makes sense really. Instagram will show each image in your carousel in separate instances, so one post has the chance to be shown multiple times.

Also, the algorithm will push out content if it believes people are enjoying it. How does it know people are enjoying your content? If you spend more time looking at and engaging with it.

You are bound to spend more time on a carousel post than a still image, so this will make Instagram think it is content worth pushing.

9. Don’t Concentrate on Instagram Alone

grey kitchen cabinets with metro tiles and open shelving in the kitchen
This has been my best-performing Pin on Pinterest over the last 3 months with over 250,000 people viewing it.

Ok, so this point isn’t about trying to beat the algorithm within the Instagram app, but it’s a really important strategy (probably THE most important). My account grew quickly and although it’s because people like my content, one of the other reasons is that I have a large presence elsewhere.

Throughout 2022, I had over 17 million people a month viewing my content on Pinterest (and I regularly get messages from people saying they found me on Instagram by following a link on a Pin I had posted) and my TikTok account has grown from strength to strength.

When I get a viral TikTok post, it has a direct impact on my engagement and following on Instagram. So, if you do anything in 2023, make sure you sort out your presence on other social media networks!

10. You Have to Enjoy It

woman holding up an unhappy face picture

This isn’t really something that can be taught but it’s such an important point. At the beginning of the year, we were knee-deep in our house renovation and I found creating content a real struggle.

I didn’t enjoy creating anything as the house was always in such a mess and I began to find social media extremely stressful and tedious. I couldn’t grow followers on Instagram and my engagement was non-existent. 

From January to July this year, I only grew by 3,000 followers and my likes, views, and engagement were extremely low. Even worse than when I had 10,000 followers.

But there was a huge reason why this was the case. I was no longer enjoying creating content, I wasn’t engaging with anyone on the platform, and I took a huge step away from social media.

I kept my accounts ticking along (I had to, I have made my blog and social media my full-time job! I think if it was just a hobby or somewhere I made a little bit of pocket money, I would have given up completely!) I knew I had to completely change my relationship with social media before I had a complete meltdown about it.

How Did I Teach Myself to Enjoy Social Media Again?

content plan calendar on a laptop
Having a content plan is a good idea if you want to grow followers on Instagram
  • I stopped obsessing over my insights and only allowed myself to look at them once a week
  • I changed my posting time from evening to morning. I found posting in the morning better as it meant I could quickly post and run (and sort the kids out for school). When I posted in the evenings, I had more time to sit on Instagram. I found myself obsessing over the numbers of each post and if they didn’t perform well, it would put me in a low mood for the rest of the night.
  • I started creating content and decorating my house exactly how I wanted it. I kept falling foul of all the latest trends and my house was becoming a mish-mash of different interior styles. Some I didn’t even like!
  • I stopped comparing myself to others and unfollowed accounts that made me anxious or made me feel my content wasn’t good enough
  • I actually stopped caring about my follower count! If anything, the more followers I gain, the worse my engagement seemed to get, and I had more brands wanting to work with me when I was a much smaller account. Bigger numbers don’t always equate to more success!
  • I’ve stopped watching stories. I’ll occasionally catch up with accounts I love, or friends I’ve made on Instagram, but the constant stories of people going to events/getting free stuff/working with brands would do nothing but give me FOMO! I rarely post stories myself these days. There was always a huge pressure to constantly create content and not putting myself under that pressure anymore has done me wonders.
  • I set aside a day once a week to create content and stick to a content schedule. If I have nothing to post that day, I don’t stress about it. It doesn’t matter.

I now feel much more peaceful about social media and enjoy the time I set aside to create content. Enjoying being on Instagram, chatting with like-minded people, and creating content I like has had a huge impact on my whole experience!

industrial style bookshelf with plants, mid century sideboard and boucle armchair, panelling and wallpaper in the dining room
Creating this little corner for a collaboration with Lick and Soho Home has been one of my favorite projects this year.

Social Media Review Round Up

Social media still has the ability to change people’s lives and is not going anywhere soon. It is still a place for inspiration, ideas, friendships, and network building and if you put the right processes and strategies in place, you can make a decent living from it.

However, social media has now become overrun with consumerism, consumption, a shopping-heavy interface, and accounts we don’t want to follow. I’ll stick around, for now, but I am working hard in the background to slowly move away from a social media-centric strategy!

Do you still enjoy social media? Are you finding that you are using it more, the same, or less throughout 2022? What do you love/hate about social media?

Let me know in the comments.

a social media review for 2022 and 10 ways to beat the algorithm pinterest pin
A social media review for 2022

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