Unexpected Engagement - Help Me Understand

Hi All,

I experienced a very strange thing for me the other day with one of my posts. It received a tremendous amount of engagement, see screenshot below…

On this account I have used automation and autolikes. I stopped follow/unfollow on 9th October and stopped autolikes shortly after but continued with just liking my followers’ posts and my feed posts and participating in engagement groups.

I waited 2-3 days between posts before posting this, which is different from my usual 1 post a day. It is also the first time I have used a 3 photo album.

I used the same hashtags that I have used before in previous posts and even when I was using autolikes I never received anywhere near the amount of hashtag impressions.

I was amazed at the love and exposure this post got! So like anyone on here would do, I hoped and prayed that this would be the case moving forward.

I waited a day and then posted again and damn! gone back to business as usual. For the post below, I had turned follow/unfollow back on about 5 hours or so prior to posting. I used a different set of hashtags and it was just a single photo. I used engagement groups to give it a boost as well. Now look at the hashtag impressions on this!!! What a joke! how can you go from 3,000 hashtag impressions to 11!? Makes no sense to me.

So, the first things that come to my mind are…

  1. Albums of >=3 are favoured (we already know that albums are favoured)

  2. Could it be the hashtags? (Most of my other posts get between 10 - 200 hashtag impressions when I’ve not used autolikes)

  3. Good content has a part to play of course as i personally feel that the image that got crazy engagement and impressions was one of my best photos I’ve taken.

  4. Instagram was aware that I had been doing follow/unfollow so absolutely hindered the exposure on my last post and the posts before and i didn’t notice because I was using autolikes to counteract it.

Please can anyone help me understand this!? Has anyone else experienced similar? Could point 4 be really the case?

1 Like

Not an expert, but from I have read here in the forum, I would say you are on the right track:

  1. “highered” your exposure and maybe someone with a huge follower base gave you a like what was like a “power like” and you got for his / her followers and also for other user in the Top 9 section of specific hashtags…

Thank you for your input!

I think what I shall do is leave my follow/unfollow on, post another 3 photo photo album using the same hashtags tomorrow and see what happens.

I will then stop follow/unfollow for a week or so and then test again. Hopefully this will then shed some light.

Part of me thinks it was a bug that made my post have so many hashtag impressions haha another part of me wants to ask instagram to see if they would reply and/or explain.

How many followers do you have on the account? :slight_smile:

1 Like

I have 1,520 followers currently on this account

Hey man!
It’s very easy… It’s the picture itself! Even though all your portraits are quite good this one just stands out. There are so many high quality portraits on IG so if people check out the respective hashtags this picture just stands out, getting more engagement which IG of course notices, leading to a ranking in the top hashtags.
Its the same with the picture you posted in September (girl with bleeding eyes and bandage and knife). Its just something extraordinary which makes people to stop at the picture and engage more or above average.

Even though albums tend to perform better I would guess that this picture alone would have performed just as good on its own. Especially as the second one ist just a black and white version adding not that much more.

Lesson: Keep on creating these wow effect/shocking/wtf is going on/how did he do this? pictures.

You are already doing very good, but if you want consistently to go “viral” try to create more of these extraordinary content. I know its easier said then done. Don’t hesitate to post a picture after some months again or a very similar one if the last time it performed way above average. I know its very hard to create extraordinary content on a regular basis. So leverage good shoots and use the material again :slight_smile:


Thank you so much for your response! Very kind words!

I take on board what you’re saying it was likely a combination of things.

I think my further testing will help me work out if the following actually had an affect at all

It is also worth noting that that better performing post has 10 hashtags more than the not so well performing one :slight_smile:

On a side note, you are a rare case of replying to each and every comment that you get and stimulating the ongoing conversation. Over time, that sort of engagement with your audience pays off like crazy. Maybe that post is just reaping the benefits of that hard previous work.


Yes very good point, thank you.

So I posted again (see below), using a 3 photo album and the same hashtags as the post that blew up. Still got no where near the reach & exposure as post that went mental.

From what people have been saying I’m starting to feel that it’s just that the post that went insane was just better than my other posts. Or, it’s becuase I’ve been doing follow/unfollow…

I will have a think over the weekend and maybe I will test further by stopping botting for a week or so and see if my engagement improves.

Still very open to any other insights or suggestions people may have.

i don’t think it was due to Follow/Unfollow but i really think that the engagement in the first photo went better because it was a better photo AND u stopped autolikes before posting it.
Like tools or things like that are like heroin for your account and they can really destroy your engagement!
Writing that because of some experiences with some of my clients…
hope it helps!


Never a good idea to use the same exact set of tags on 2 posts so close to each other.

The original one might still be riding the viral wave on a few of those hashtag top sections. IG typically won’t put 2 posts from the same account in that top section, so your 2nd post might never make the cut, thus the lowered exposure for it.


Yeah thank you for your response. I will definetly staw clear of autolikes now, completely agree they’re like heroin!

1 Like

Very good point! Thank you dude. On my next post, I will use a different set of hashtags (thanks to your service) these should be a good fit. Will report on my findings!

The best way to check if it is the quality of the content, not the outside stuff is to give it a few weeks and post the same pic again. If it goes viral(ish), you’ll have a more definite answer.


Ahh that’s a very good idea! I wonder if I could get away with a similar pic from the same set up.

Thank you so much for your help! Got things to work out.


1 Like

this man is giving some golden advices right here :rocket: :rocket:

1 Like

Another option I try is to post it in another account in the same niche with a similar EG rate and see the difference. When I compare the results from both the accounts, the answers are clearer. But your strategy is something I’d like to try as well.


P.S - Check your DMs mate.

1 Like

What was the story reshares on the viral and saves vs that album post?

1 Like

Yeah unfortunately I don’t have another account to test it on. Will definitely post the same pic or a very similar one to test though.