Instagram Algorithms & Email Lists

This one is for the content creators out there! Or for anyone who wants to learn a bit more about the wonderful world of social media and what I do.

Have you pivoted your content recently or just wanted to try posting something you don’t typically post, only to feel anxiety about it? Because you know that the dreaded algorithm might not recognize it and stunt its growth? Or worse, “shadowban” it? You’re not alone!

First off – the whole shadowban thing is a little bit of a myth, at least the way that we know about it. I’ve done some research and I have had some clients’ posts (and my own posts) not show up under certain hashtags, but it’s few and far between. Avoid oversaturated hashtags or anything like #mustfollow #like4like etc (ie anything spammy) and you should be ok.

The real shadowbanning happens when you violate Instagram’s community guidelines (which have gotten a bit out of control, but these are the rules). You can also go to Menu > Settings > Account > Account Status and see what that says. If you’re in good standing, it will tell you. And if you’re not, well you’re shit out of luck because there’s not a whole heck of a lot you can do about it LOL. Just kidding (ish), but there are a few things you can do…this article from Hubspot is pretty helpful and more detailed!

Usually, the algorithm does right by you if you know how to work with it. That said, you can still do everything right and not see the same level of success on every single post. Or, even worse, you do everything right and it tanks miserably. Happens to me allllll too often.

We spend so much time chasing the algorithm trying to get it to like us, that we lose focus on what matters: the message and how we’re delivering that message. Think back to when you started out on IG – did you strategically plan when you would post? Did you analyze every little hashtag and optimize every word in your caption for SEO? Did you worry about an aesthetically pleasing IG feed?? FUCK NO. You posted what you wanted, when you wanted, and said what you wanted.

Look, I’m not stuck in the past. I understand times change and the app is overly saturated now, so you have to switch things up and work harder to stand out. But if you lose yourself in the numbers and the analyzing, you lose the joy in creating.

When I focus on the performance of a reel, I can feel legitimately depressed if it doesn’t do well. I have tried countless tactics that “IG Growth Strategists” push, and none of them have worked for me. You know what DOES work for me and my mental health? Not giving a fuck and doing what I like. #misfitmentality FTW.

Bottom line: IG is a very difficult place to grow (and sell) these days, but if you want to build a a brand, you have to build your community first. Share content that brings value of some kind (educate, entertain, and inspire are the top 3 in my book), build that trust with your audience, and the last piece people tend to forget about? Bring them to your email list! We forget about email marketing but it’s one of the most powerful tools you likely aren’t using. It’s a DIRECT LINE to your people.

You don’t have full control over your social media – it’s at the mercy of an algorithm – but you DO have control over your email list (which in my case is primarily my Substack newsletter list). And if I were you, I’d put some thought into that (Jenna Kutcher is a great resource for email list growth!).

Think about how you can elevate your email marketing experience – what can you provide that will help the people you’re speaking to, directly? In my case, I try to provide social media tips (and grievances), as well as recipes and restaurant visits (I know plenty of people still follow me for food).

If you’re struggling with social media, don’t give it so much weight. It’s really just one piece of your overall marketing puzzle, and a small one at that. Remember my Soup Board video?? That got over 4 MILLION VIEWS on Instagram and over 1 MILLION on TikTok. Do you know how many clients it got me? Zero. It got me a few hundred followers, but it hardly moved the needle for how many views it got. It was a great way to show people what I can do (write/act/be funny), but it wasn’t some huge money-maker. But the thing to remember is: you never know who’s watching!

In fact, when my Instagram was doing the most poorly a couple years ago, my business (social media consulting) was doing the best. Why? Because I focused more of my energy and marketing efforts on pitching and creating content that provided value. Maybe it wasn’t the best performing (or funniest) stuff on IG, but it brought me the most clients. Let that be your reminder that the numbers on social media don’t always translate to success; it’s more perceived value than anything else.

So. Back to the original point – if you want to post something outside of your niche (or you feel like you barely even have a niche), go for it! Who cares?? You can post something else the next day. Everyone has the memory of a goldfish these days and no one will care about it as much as you do. You got this.

For all of my fellow social media managers out there, this is a nice reminder for your clients, too. One video doing poorly here and there shouldn’t make you fear for your job security. That’s not how you measure overall success. Building a brand on social media takes work, but it also takes communication/participation from the client’s side. So don’t feel badly when you get the boot from a client that didn’t appreciate you or give you the materials you needed in the first place.

Keep at it. Keep trying new things. Keep looking for ways to make the job fun. Because in this world, if you’re not having fun, you’re just having a hard time. Trust me. And think about starting or growing your email list!!

If you need some social media help, shoot me an email: or visit my website for more info and previous work.

And don’t let the algorithm poop on your bed (if you follow me on IG, this will make sense).


  1. Great advice.

    I had an eye opening experience recently when I created the viral smash burger tacos…15 million views and hardly any follows. I watched every other creator blow up their accounts and it had me wonder… “why bother?”

    Email marketing and my website are the areas I’m planning to channel more energy to.

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