Raise your hand if you are being personally victimized by Instagram's new algorithm! The newest updates to social media's favorite photo-sharing app have left users dazed and confused. Some of the tricks used to maximize organic reach are no longer working. There is a whole new set of rules that attempt to push users into paying more for advertising on the platform in order to reach their followers.

What you need to know

Posts will no longer be getting the amount of exposure they once were. Now, less than 10% of your audience will be able to see your posts.

The likelihood of your image getting buried underneath thousands of other posts has increased significantly.

If you are part of a pod, a group of Instagram users who have agreed to like and comment on each others' posts to increase engagement, your post will probably be shadowbanned. Shadow banning typically occurs when a photo is recognized as spam, but with the new algorithm, Instagram users who are participating in pod activity will most likely be hidden from their followers intentionally.

Also, engagement on your new posts will be heavily reliant on your engagement activity. The exposure of your posts will gradually begin to decrease if you do not respond to comments left on your photo or video within 60 minutes.

Comments will now need to consist of at least four words in order to be counted as engagement. Instagram is putting an end to short comments. "Great pic!" "Love it!" "Nice." Comments such as these will no longer be included in your post's engagement activity with restrictions of the new algorithm.

What about the hashtags?

Hashtags have been an essential part of exposure since the app's conception.

A maximum of 30 hashtags may be used on one photo or video, but including this many may actually get your post shadow banned under the new algorithm. It's recommended using five unique hashtags that have between 10,000 and 500,000 posts under them. Using hashtags with millions of posts will only result in your photo being buried.

Be sure to change the hashtags that you're using from time to time. Using the same ones over and over again will get you shadowbanned. Other actions that can decrease your exposure with this algorithm include editing the caption before the first 24 hours is up and deleting a photo and immediately reposting it.

The most significant change to hashtags in Instagram's new algorithm is the caption. In the past, you could write the hashtags in the comments and not have to worry about the photo showing up in the search results. This is no longer a thing. All of the hashtags must now be in the caption; otherwise, they will not show up in the search results.

The kicker

Your personal newsfeed will no longer be compiled of only the users you are following.

Based on your likes and searches, your personal feed will now include strangers. Photos and videos from your favorite Instagram friends may end up being replaced by posts from people and/or businesses you don't know. It will be somewhat like the sponsored ads that appear on your feed, but it will occur more frequently.

The best thing to do at this point is to upgrade your Instagram account to a business account. This will allow you to access analytics and assess how well your posts are doing with the new algorithm changes. There is also a rumor that if you start following hashtags, your profile will be favored when it comes to exposure.

It goes without saying that whether or not users like the changes being made, Instagram will still make them. The only thing serious users can do is to Stay on top of the changes and adapt in order to keep exposure and engagement activity up.