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By Avery Taylor

How Small Shops Are Surviving Instagram’s Algorithm and 11 Ways to Support Them

In the age of social media, Instagram has become a vital part of a small shop’s marketing strategy. With the fast-paced cycle of viral posts and the ever-changing landscape of social media trends, the Instagram algorithm can either help or damage a small company’s success story. 

Did you know that Mikoleon is a small business made up of a close-knit community of genuine leather cobblers and responsible merchants? By being creative and staying savvy, small businesses like Mikoleon are surviving the Instagram algorithm!

Artisan IX - Blog Hero 
Cony Larsen Founder Mikoleon LLC 

1. What is the Instagram algorithm?

Instagram uses a mathematical algorithm to sort posts in a user’s feed based on relevancy instead of chronology. Relevant posts could be friends who you interact with a lot, brands and creators whose content you engage with, or sponsored posts based on your demographics and interests. Researchers have found the six main factors that the algorithm uses to determine what a user will see in their feed: 

  • Interest: Instagram ranks how much it thinks you will care about a certain post and prioritizes showing it to you at the top of your feed.
  • Recency: How recently the post was shared.
  • Relationship: Whether you seem close to the person or company that shared the post, based on liking, sharing, and commenting on their posts.
  • Frequency: How often you open the Instagram app.
  • Following: The number of people and brands that you follow.
  • Usage: How long you spend on Instagram

How does the algorithm affect small businesses?

Though the algorithm is meant to streamline and optimize the Instagram experience, it can also bury small shops in the shuffle and prioritize high-paying brands with large social media budgets. Small businesses need to be clever and progressive about implementing social media strategies to keep engagement up and to stay relevant to the constantly evolving algorithm. 

MK22361 - Oliver Luxe Boots Bone Beige [Children's Leather

Oliver Luxe Boots Bone Beige


How are small shops surviving Instagram's algorithm in 2022?

  1. Stepping up photo quality. Buyers want to see beautiful, high-quality photographs of products. Beautiful photos get more likes and comments, and thus are more likely to have a better spot in the algorithm.

  • Consistently posting Stories and going Live. Stories and Lives are a fun, more informal way that small shops are connecting with their audiences. Studies show that over 500 million users watch Stories everyday. Small shops use that organic marketing power to reach their customers in new and fresh ways everyday.

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Mikoleon LLC

  1. Publishing more video content. Modern shoppers want more video content – Youtube and Tiktok are proof of that! That’s why small businesses are beating the Instagram algorithm by making Reels and posting videos that keep their audiences engaged with live demonstrations, lifestyle and aesthetic videos, how-to’s, testimonials, humor and viral trends, and any other savvy video content they can come up with!

  2. Contests and giveaways. Giveaways are an amazing way that small businesses get new followers and engage with the people who already love their products! Though it may seem counterintuitive to be giving away free merchandise, the surge of interest and new customers can completely outweigh the price of one gifted product.

  3. Posting during peak hours. Smart businesses have learned to take advantage of public information about the best time to post on Instagram. While posting during these peak hours doesn’t guarantee a flood of likes or new followers, it’s a simple way that small businesses can optimize their social media output to pack a punch each day.

  4. Utilizing powerful hashtags. Hashtags are simply a way that Instagram lets its users organize their posts alongside similar posts. Shrewd shop owners have learned to use hashtags to attract the attention of people who are already searching for what they’re selling.

  5. Supporting other small businesses. The best small businesses want other small businesses to thrive and survive the algorithm as well! By setting up collaborations and teaming up for giveaways, some small shops have widened their reach with customers and created a supportive, inclusive community with other amazing small businesses.

MK2270 - Dirt Kickers Boots White [Western Leather Boots]

Dirt Kickers Boots White


Ways to Support Small Shops: 

  1. Buy consciously. By focusing on intentionality and responsible craftsmanship, you can make sure you’re supporting trustworthy, capable brands. Here at Mikoleon, we make it a point to emphasize transparency, sustainability, and nurturing the careers of our expert Guatemalan artisans.

  2. Like, follow, comment, and share! It’s key to the success of a small shop’s social media page that it gets as much engagement as possible. You may think that tossing off a quick like or friendly comment doesn’t mean much, but each little engagement adds up to boost a company’s success in the long run!

  3. Pay full price. We all love a bargain, but if you want to support an up-and-coming business, don’t wait for a big sale to purchase the item you’ve had your eye on. 

  4. Leave positive reviews. Good reviews are essential for a small shop’s success because a stellar review can be the thing that convinces a shopper to buy a product, and a bad review can be the tipping point that causes a small shop to lose a customer. 

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                                                                                                      Mikoleon LLC  

  5. Buy gift cards. Shopping for the person who has everything? Needing a quick, easy gift at the last minute? Gift cards make versatile, convenient gifts but they also have the added benefit of supporting a small shop that needs your business! Plus, a lot of shops now offer printable or virtual online gift cards, which makes them even more effortless.

  6. Sign up for their newsletter. This one little gesture is a great way to support a small shop because it keeps you informed about product launches, promotions, and events. It’s easy to lose track of all the various businesses and products that we love in our busy lives, and signing up for a small business’s newsletter is a simple way to keep that business on your radar.

  7. Tip a little extra. Some small shops rely on tipping as a way to boost revenue for themselves and their employees. You don’t have to tip when you’re purchasing clothing or merchandise, but small restaurants, food trucks, hair stylists, beauty technicians, and other small service industry businesses are part of a culture where tipping is key. It’s extremely helpful to go a little bit above and beyond the regular 20% tip if you received great service and are happy with what you got.

  8. Don’t gatekeep. Don’t keep all the goodness to yourself! Word of mouth is a vital resource for spreading familiarity with a small shop. When someone asks where you bought your daughter’s cute white western boots, tell them Mikoleon! Or get on social media and tag your favorite small business or share their post on your IG Story. Shout your love from the rooftops!

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                                                                                                 Artisan: Francisca

  9. Buy preorders. Preorders tell companies when a product is going to be extra popular and that more units need to be made to meet demand, or that a product might unfortunately underperform. Plus, preordering gives a small business extra production money for things like advertising, packaging, and manufacturing costs.

  10. Participate in contests and giveaways (tag your friends!). Online giveaways are great for small businesses because they use tagging and sharing to generate new followers and fresh engagement. Giveaways are also great for you because you might just win an amazing prize!

  11. Loyalty matters. Remember that small shops rely on regular customers to keep their business open. Become a “regular” – if you love a service or product, keep coming back for more when you can afford it. We love our customers and their loyalty means everything to us.


Produccion - Leather

Mikoleon LLC

Mikoleon is a small shop that is striving to survive the Instagram algorithm everyday! With confidence in our leather products and consciousness about our impact on the world we live in, we love to engage with our fans and find new ways to share our love of gorgeous, handmade artisan leather goods!