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  • Writer's pictureInge Hunter

Where Have My Instagram Likes Gone?

If you’re reading this then you are probably concerned about a recent drop in ‘likes’ and perhaps post reach as well. Please don’t worry and also take solace in the fact that you are not the only one reading this blog post.

Across Instagram people are feeling the effects of recent algorithm changes in the form of reduced reach and a loss of likes. A post which may have got you 200 likes before may only be getting you 20 now. Perhaps you used to get many followers a day and now you’re not. I am going to walk you through 4 algorithm changes that have affected how many likes you get and talk you through what you can do to combat it, but equally, why it isn’t something to worry about.

These changes all came into effect at the beginning of June. Instagram decided to have a big overhaul in June and as with algorithm updates on all social media platforms it effected the way the platform works. You are never going to ‘beat the algorithm’ so before I get into it please do not worry about a loss of likes and continue to do the great work you are doing.

Change 1 - Pay to Play

Since Facebook took over Instagram it has been becoming an increasing advertised platform. You may have noticed adverts in your feed, and your stories. These adverts are relatively cheap, around £1 per day but as with all paid advertisement on social platforms these post will take precedence over organic post because they are paid for. This pay to play shift has meant that there is less space in the feed for your organic posts in place of the paid for posts, but unless you are going to get into Instagram advertisement there is not much you can do to combat this change. It will not take over everything, it may just become slightly more ‘Facebookesque’ in the way your feed is delivered to you in terms of paid for versus organic posts. One of the hints towards this becoming more of a feature is that you can now pay to have the swipe up on your stories. When there are changes which move towards a more pay to play type platform these always affect organic reach, but again, please do not worry about this as there is still plenty of space for your content and plenty of audience for it as well.

Change 2 - Commerce

Some believe Instagram is moving towards becoming a commerce platform. With things like shop-able posts and the introduction of creator accounts for influencers as well as the discussion of making influencers posts shop-able, there is a definite trend towards Instagram becoming more of a commerce platform, i.e. you can buy straight off the platform. In my view this is great for product based businesses because it gives you space to be able to sell your independent products on to a big audience. Creator Accounts will be favoured content above business accounts because ultimately they bring in money for the platform but again, please do not be worried about this shift. Any shift in algorithm can become useful to you if you simply become creative in the way that you approach it.

Change 3 - Ghost and Bot Accounts

At the beginning of June, Instagram deleted around a million inactive ghost and bot accounts. Obviously the deletion of such a large amount of accounts is huge and may have had an affect on your likes if perhaps some of that engagement was coming from bot accounts. You may not have been using a bot account but perhaps your account was one that was regularly targeted by ‘like bots’ or ‘comment bots’ in order for whoever who has paid for the bot to increase their chance of you coming to follow them. The removal of these accounts is great for the platform because it means that those that are left are genuine people and in fact the loss of likes from these accounts, although it may not feel great that you have less likes, will be great for you in terms of figuring out who is genuinely interested in your posts rather than a very simple follow back.

Change 4 - Habits

Instagram is moving further away from a chronological feed and closer towards a feed based on your interests and habits. As Instagram becomes more and more crowded they will be showing you posts which you are habitually more interested in. The introduction of ‘close friends’, a while back, shows that they are starting to include ways of segmenting your following and followers so that you can prioritise posts from those that you want to see the posts from. This is all because Instagram’s job is to make you stay longer on the app and statistically you are more likely to stay longer on the app if you are being shown posts which you are habitually more likely to be interested in.

How can you combat these four changes in the algorithm and how can they help you?

Firstly, remember that you are never going to beat the algorithm and you are not here for that. Your job is to show up as a business and give yourself the best chance to be found by people who are likely to become customers and clients. Also remember that the more time you spend trying to beat the algorithm the less time you are spending being interested in your audience and showing up for the people who are interested in what you are doing. This being said, all of these changes and a drop in likes moves the platform more towards favouring those accounts with a high engagement. This means that if your posts are regularly deemed as interesting by Instagram then you will have a better chance of maintaining your likes, comments and followers. Simply posting will not necessarily get you where you need to be any more. You have to dedicate time to engagement. This means spending time on the app simply to have conversations with other people using the app. If you would like to take your account even further then you must be engaging with people. Instead of engaging with a generic anyone on Instagram strategy you can engage very strategically with those who you believe could become potential customers or clients in the long run.

But the main point that I want to share with you here is that a loss of likes does not reflect how well you are performing on the app. The likes are the lowest performance indicator on an Instagram profile but the cool thing here is that if you are getting a whole lot less likes then the likes that you do get are becoming a lot more valuable. Instead of getting 200 likes from random accounts of people who don’t follow you or people who are not really interested in what you are doing you are instead now getting around 20 likes from people who Instagram has decided are habitually interested in what you are doing, who are more likely to read and look at your posts and are more interested in what you are talking about and are therefore more likely to become a brand ambassador and someone who may turn into a client in the long run.

So instead of focussing on the loss of likes perhaps focus on those who are still liking you to be able to push content to serve those that are liking your posts rather than pushing content to serve the unknown.

If you would like to talk more about my Engagement Strategy Service in The Agency to increase you chances of attracting genuine, real people who are statistically more likely to become interested in your account then have a look at my Agency page or feel free to send me an email at

Inge x


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