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In an effort to grow my company, I set out on social media with a PLAN. I searched everywhere for ‘tips and tricks’ and I made a notebook with all of the information I found. Just because I was a bit more familiar with Instagram, I hit it was hard. After a lot of work, blood, sweat and tears- I came to a BIG realization. So, I’m here to make some waves and expose the Instagram Loop Truth.
What Is An Instagram Loop?
An Instagram Loop is a marketing and network strategy that is running wild on Instagram today. Most of the more successful loops are based on your niche- mom, blogger, home decor, fitness, handmade businesses etc. Some are for all page types and some require that you have a certain amount of followers before you can join.
To join a loop, you either message and admin or join a loop group. The admins will share a picture and a caption to go along with it. At a certain time of day, you will post the picture and the caption. The caption has instructions for how to participate. The rules usually require you to follow the hosts of the loop, follow the followers of a page, follow everyone that posted the loop picture… and sometimes they want you to comment an emoji on every single loop picture….
In short, you’re posting a picture and reaching out to everyone who posted the same thing. You’re supposed to follow everyone who follows you and they’re supposed to do the same. The average loop requires about an hour to do everything they ask- but they all require different levels of engagement and the loops run for different lengths of time.
If I said that I regretted trying loops, it would be a lie. I got on Instagram to grow my name and I DID! I got to 2,500 followers in less than a month! I’ve made a handful of really close, legitimate friends from looping. By writing this, I am not bashing looping- I am sharing what happened to me. You may have a different experience or outcome.
Anyways, I heard about looping from one of my friends. I asked her about it, joined one and I got hooked. Like… legit addicted to looping. I was running one, maybe two loops per day. I definitely got a bit carried away with it. It was so satisfying to see my followers go up by the minute! I was growing…and SO fast!
My Fatal Decision
My looping experience may have been saved if I had known something very important at the beginning:
Don’t join just ANY loop group.-MeI joined any and every loop group I found. One of my looper friends posted a new loop? I’M THERE! Well, not surprisingly- they cared about me as much as I cared about them. We all followed, liked and commented…. then they were all just a number on my list.
Like I said before, there ARE groups that aren’t spammy and they flat out wont tolerate you using their group for your selfish gain. If you are considering looping, I suggest sticking with only these groups I’ve listed below. They won’t lead you wrong and I promise they’ll welcome you in like they’ve known you your whole life.
Beware of the ‘fly by night’ loops. There are a ton that people start so that their own personal page benefits. They don’t have a page or a name for the loop. It’s just a ‘MEGA LOOP’ and you’re only required to follow their page to participate. Running a legitimate loop usually requires more than one admin and to keep the spammers at bay, they usually have to have a group. Basically, if it looks sketchy, do your homework. Talk to the people who have looped with them- ask about their experience!
I was so new and so green to Instagram- I didn’t know any of the tricks. My Instagram friend mentioned an app that shows you deeper analytics into your page. It shows you post engagement, audience insight and how many pages have unfollowed you. Welp… honestly didn’t even think about that part! I was too excited about the followers…
Curiosity was killing me, so I downloaded the app. I watched my unfollowers number go up right along with my followers number. People were unfollowing me in droves! It didn’t make sense! What did I do wrong? I was so upset and confused. Maybe, I took it a little personal, but it’s just part of it. I went into this with completely pure intentions… how naive of me to think that others were doing the same….
To be honest, unfollowers are just a necessary evil of looping. Fake people, spammers and fake accounts have learned that the people in loop groups will basically follow back any account that follows them.. so they prey on loopers. Looping is basically shooting fish in a barrel for a spam account. They go to the hashtag, follow everyone and then go back in 24 hours and unfollow everyone. Most people don’t notice they’ve been unfollowed, so that account gets to keep you as a follower. So sneaky and just UGLY!
If you join a loop, you need to get a legitimate analytic app. It’ll show you who unfollowed and what kind of engagement you’re getting before, during and after a loop. Check after each loop and track your success with each loop. I found that a few of those spammy loops caused me to lose more people than I gained. Again- do your own homework!!!
Not only do some spam accounts just follow you just to unfollow, another type of spam account will begin to spam you when you join certain loops. They add you to their ‘SUCKAAA’ list (trust me, it’s a real thing). Basically, you will start hearing from all kinds of *very obvious* scams. I get messages for zero interest loans, virgin human hair (not what it sounds like) and nasty old men trying to see if I’m interested in flying in their private jet. ::Insert eye roll here:: While I got those before looping, it was rare compared to the amount I got during one of those sketchy loops!
I have yet to find out how these spam accounts are worthwhile to whoever is running them. Maybe they do trick some people out of money? Or maybe they do it to funnel traffic to their real pages? I still don’t get it and it frustrates me to my core. However, if you are considering looping to grow your page, consider this factor and don’t get tricked! Report and/or block all spam accounts like that!
Instagram knows that these spam accounts are EVERYWHERE, and they know that we hate seeing them! Instagram is working tirelessly to stop the spam accounts. While reporting them can help put them on the radar for Instagram to delete, they’re having to take other actions to control the problem: changing the algorithm.
Making the spam pages less visible or by limiting their exposure with the algorithm is obviously the easiest route for Instagram. Logically, anything that Instagram does to stop or slow spammers…. will also affect the looping pages that they’re leeching off of. The algorithm is basically a giant mystery (for a good reason- or everyone would exploit it). Personally looking into it, I asked some friends with personal accounts. They said that after I started looping, they were seeing less of my original content on their feed…. conspiracy?!?!
It’s not so much a conspiracy as it is fact. Instagram watches the actions of the spam accounts and takes note. For example, lots of spam accounts use bots to message you immediately after you follow the page. So…. Instagram has started to punish pages that use this same bot OR doing the same action. While they’re trying to stop spam accounts, they’re also damaging the page of the sweet soap maker who personally messages and thanks every person who follows her. It’s wild to think that even a genuine networking action can cause your account to be flagged- but Instagram is mainly policed by computers, not people.
Animosity Between Loops
Some loop groups are basically the tech version of ‘Mean Girls’.
You can’t sit with us.
::insert another eye roll::
The craziest thing I have learned from looping is: people are caddy. I’ve been unfollowed because I joined a loop that one loop is at war with. I was actually completely blocked for leaving a loop because I couldn’t post at the time they required. I’ve been yelled at IN ALL CAPS for being in a loop but not liking someone’s pictures (which wasn’t required in that loop).
All I’m saying is: prepare for drama! Many loops have you join a Telegram chat (it’s an app that lets you group message outside of Instagram). I’ve seen full blown name calling, hair pulling cat fights in Telegram all because someone accidentally unfollowed someone…. then followed right back. ::whew… does that level of extra exhaust anyone else?::
While my followers was up….way up… way way up….. my engagement was almost non-existent. The people in those spam loops were there for the same reason I was- gain more followers. They’re busy growing their page and increasing their reach. They’re not there to make relationships. I learned that being loop friends is basically like a one night stand. Just a notch on their bedpost…and they don’t want your phone number.
Blog after blog shows that the only way to truly organically grow your account is engagement. This means having people actually look at your photo before ‘mass liking’ all of the pics on their home page. It means having your audience clicking to see what your bio is all about. True, meaningful engagement means people commenting genuine input on your photos. Not just ‘nice’ or ‘cool’ or a heart emoji. It means legitimate engagement from people who like your content.
While lots of loop groups have separate engagement groups that run parallel with it, we have to look back at the algorithm. If Instagram sees the looping page itself as a spam account… what do you think Instagram will compute if all the same people also comment on each others’ photos. Do you think Instagram knows that it isn’t organic engagement? We like to hope that they don’t… but let’s be honest, they are way ahead of us.
Way, way ahead of us to be exact! For the first 3 months your page is active, you basically have a ‘governor’ on your account. You are flagged if you go above certain amount of likes, comments, follows, posts per day or hour. All of the sites I’ve found say that the limit is slightly different. However, they all agree that a new page following 60 new pages in 5 minutes is a no-no. Liking those same pics and commenting an emoji on them all is just the icing on the cake!
By following the loop requirements, you basically blew an air horn and waved a flag in Instagram’s face. It also says a lot that you gain a lot of followers and have zero interaction with them other than the original like, follow and comment. Again, most loops see you as just a notch on the bedpost. It may look productive to have that person on your followers list to add to your total. However, having 10,000 followers and only 50 comments on a picture is very telling to Instagram.
Your Page’s Credibility
The day after I downloaded the Followers app, I saw a real-life friend had unfriended me. WOW! That is a crappy feeling! It was killing me to know why she did it. Did I upset her? Was my occasional curse word offensive to her? It shouldn’t be… she knows me in real life!
I reached out- I had to know why an acquaintance of 5 years didn’t want to see my page anymore. Not only was she shocked that I noticed, but she was honest with me. She said ‘I see your posts all the time but it’s not your stuff! It’s someone else’s stock photo. I was ignoring your page and you were cluttering up my feed.’ All of the comments for the loops was bogging down her activity feed and basically…. I became spam to her.
My association was way off point! People who knew me face-to-face were tired of seeing my posts. If my goal is to be someone’s go-to place for Silhouette tips or Christmas gifts, they have to associate me as that… not someone who posts loop photos!!! People weren’t associating me with what I wanted my page to mean.
Your typical user is going to have 200-300 followers. 150-200 are going to be people they are friends with in real life. That means you have to work hard and post some stellar content to hang in on someone’s daily feed and be seen as legitimate. I was like the U2 album that randomly showed up on your iPhone. Annoying, but not enough of a hindrance to remove. Did you hate it? No… but did you ever listen to it? No.
This is another reason why I say to be choosy about your loops. The groups I’ve linked on here are committed. They done use annoying, childish graphics that make your feed look like a coloring book. They put a lot of hard work into their graphics to make sure it doesn’t turn your feed into a walking billboard! Be choosy about your loops and try not to over-do it!
After I realized what my friend meant, I started to panic! If people see me like that, what does the algorithm think of my page? Do they associate me with the spam accounts? Even if I haven’t done any lasting damage to my page…. have I done what I set out to do? Establish a brand, create a name, build a reputation, send traffic to my blog, get custom orders…. have my followers trust my opinion. No…. I failed in following through with the entire purpose of my social media accounts. So… what now?
Fixing The Damage
All of these epiphanies felt like running into a brick wall going 90mph. For a while, I felt like I had it all figured out and I had the secret to Instagram success. I saw followers and I immediately felt successful…. but my success was the equivalent of being handed a wad of Monopoly money. It made me feel good, but was virtually meaningless beyond that.
It was a super hard pill to swallow. All of that work, all those wasted hours…for a bunch of fake followers? And what did I do to my account? Do I need to start over? How do I gracefully back out of all these loops I joined? Ahhhhhh!!
I stopped for a second and took a breath. I searched what to do if you’ve been shadowbanned. Basically, they say to log out of the account for 3-4 days. Remove all apps, bots, post helpers that are linked to your account. Delete any archived loop posts. I removed all of the junk loop groups (I kept my tried and true groups). Then, I unfollowed the spam accounts I had followed- talk about time consuming– whew!
And…then I started a group of my own…with all the information I had learned the hard way. In an attempt to revolutionize the way we network on Instagram, I started the Hashtag Growth Group. You can read more about it here. Maybe my story can save you a little heartburn and teach you how to grow the right way!
This is the loop I still believe in. They don’t do any of the junky stuff that I described above. The admins and loop participants both go through and block anyone who unfollows after following. They are true! I am still friends with them because I love them so dearly! Really great people, admins and loop participants! They also do things a totally different way that doesn’t make them risky!