You’ve been learning so much about how to build an engaged following on Instagram, and you’ve made some progress. But you can’t help wondering if everything you’ve heard about the Instagram algorithm is actually true. 

To clear things up, The Broke Agent and Jason Cassity hosted a REFER Q&A event with Instagram growth coach Brock Johnson to get some real answers and actionable tips you can start using today. 

And Brock did not disappoint. During the conversation, he called out six Instagram myths you need to know about. Because when it comes to these six, what you don’t know can definitely hurt your engagement—and possibly lead to your giving up on Instagram altogether. 

Keep reading to find out why. 

Myth #1—The Instagram algorithm is changing all the time 

This one is ubiquitous. But while it might seem like Instagram changes its algorithm with the weather—or just to toy with us—the truth is a lot less conspiratorial. 

As Brock pointed out early in the Q&A, the algorithm really doesn’t change very often. What does change are people’s preferences and what they look for, which is why Brock encourages all agents on Instagram to focus on their audience. 

If you’re familiar with Tom Toole’s “back to basics” rallying cry, that’s what we’re talking about here. Find out what your audience wants and make that the focus of your content. 

Here are a few ways to get closer to that: 

  • Research other Instagram creators in your niche and market
  • Try Instagram features and see which ones work for you—and your audience
  • Engage with your audience daily in the comments and DMs
  • Engage with other people’s content daily: like, comment, and share
  • Pay attention to your analytics and try to post when your audience is most active

Myth #2—Including a call to action in your post can hurt you 

Jason Cassity asked whether it hurts your engagement to include phrases like “Follow me for more” or some kind of call to action in your caption or in your post. 

He’s not the only one who’s heard rumors that Instagram’s algorithm interprets that as manipulative and punishes those who use calls to action (CTAs) in this way. 

Turns out, it’s just a rumor. 

From what we’ve seen, all tests indicate that when you add a call to action, you increase your engagement, whether that call to action is to follow, like, save, share, whatever—whatever you ask for, we’ve seen consistently that you get more of what you ask for.

Brock Johnson

All that said, the type of CTA you use does matter. As a rule, you don’t want to use your CTA to send people off the Instagram platform. Also, we’ve seen end cards kill engagement. 

So, to keep things simple and keep the algorithm happy, say your call to action in your video or add it to your caption. And keep the engagement on Instagram. 

Myth #3—Editing the Reel inside IG gives your content a boost

Another question by Jason Cassity focused on editing Reels—specifically whether Instagram boosts Reels that are edited inside the app rather than outside of it. He’s heard rumors both ways. 

Here’s what Brock had to say about it: 

No, there’s lots of rumors…there is no statistical evidence that supports that Reels will perform better if edited inside of Instagram.

Brock Johnson

So, go ahead and edit your Reel wherever it’s most convenient for you. But don’t forget to use an app like SaveTik to remove the TikTok watermark—which can negatively impact your engagement. 

Myth #4—Using as many IG features as possible can boost your content

Another myth has to do with all the shiny, new (or new-ish) features Instagram offers its users and whether using them gives your content a boost. 

And while Brock wholeheartedly supports trying things out and seeing how they work for you, he was brutally honest about some of the features available—and one in particular. 

There are some features that just suck, and they hurt your engagement. Like the poll sticker on Reels…that’s terrible. It crushes engagement. Some of those new features are actually gonna hurt your engagement. Generally speaking, test everything out, give it a shot, but stick with what’s working.

Brock Johnson

Myth #5—Uploading a TikTok, even with its watermark removed, hurts your engagement

So, what if you upload a video that you’ve already posted on a different platform?

If you save a TikTok, for example, downloading it with SaveTik so it removes the watermark (as recommended by The Broke Agent), does Instagram still recognize that upload as a TikTok and punish you by showing it to fewer people? 

I think that’s also a myth. I think it’s another one of those myths started by Instagram coaches in order to get attention. And they talk about the metadata, which is these codes that are embedded into the V.O., and they can’t be removed, and the algorithm knows what it is. We have seen no proof that that is true. In fact, some of the best-performing Reels in the history of Instagram were created on TikTok or outside of Instagram. To give you a super-close example, this morning, the Reel that I posted on Instagram was a TikTok I posted last night. I downloaded it off of SnapTik, I posted it on Instagram—with the same text from TikTok—and it performed really, really well. It was one of my best-performing posts in the last week or so.

Brock Johnson

Myth #6—If a post doesn’t do well in the first week, delete it. 

We get why you’d want to see tons of engagement on every one of your posts. But, as Brock points out, the half-life of an Instagram post is 36 hours. And sometimes, it takes longer than a week for a video to blow up. 

So, deleting that post that got minimal engagement (or none) the first day could rob you of what The Broke Agent calls a “delayed explosion.” 

If it doesn’t blow up at first, leave it alone. The WORST thing you can do is delete a post because it didn’t do well. That’s your ego taking over…There are so many examples I could share with you of someone who shared a post, and it did really poorly, and then a week, or a month, or…a year later, it blows up, for whatever reason. There are so many different factors that could contribute to that. But don’t delete it just because it did poorly.

Brock Johnson

That said, there are times when it makes sense to delete a post: 

  • When it’s glitching or has obvious technical issues that impact your audience’s ability to understand what you’re saying
  • When you’ve changed your mind about something and the video no longer reflects what you think or believe
  • When the content is no longer relevant, true, or helpful to your audience

Otherwise, leave it alone. 

Ultimately, the best response to all these myths is to be open to trying new things on Instagram but to pay attention to what your audience likes—and give them more of it. And there’s nothing wrong with asking your audience for their honest opinion on one of your posts. Honest feedback can point the way to improvement.