What is Instagram’s Trust Score and Why Should You Care?

Behind the Scenes of Instagram’s Trust Score: How to Maximize Your Time and Effort on Instagram

It’s important to understand and maintain a high trust score. Learn which behaviors lower your trust score in order to maximize your Instagram success.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with Instagram? It’s hard not to. It’s like the Land of Oz with the wizard behind the curtain pulling all the strings. And while it can be frustrating at times, we have no choice but to try to comply and work within the parameters or be kicked out of Oz.

We find it a bit ironic that this visually dominated platform is actually controlled by the invisible forces of the Instagram algorithm. But it is true. We tend to focus on all that we see to try to understand the workings of Instagram. But it is the mystery behind the curtain we need to understand. This behind the scenes evaluation of your Instagram account is measured by what some refer to as your trust score.

what is your IG trust score and why should you care?

What is a Trust Score?

Big Brother is watching. I know, kind of creepy to think about. However, as much as we’d rather not think about it, we need to remember this if we want our Instagram efforts to pay off.

So, what are we talking about when we say trust score? Imagine Instagram keeping a tally card of your account. Every action you perform on their platform they see and interpret. This all adds together to create your “trust score,” or Instagram’s ranking of where you fall on the continuum between trust-worthy and spam-like.

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Why do they care about your every action? Because Instagram is looking for automated activities and spam accounts. They want to stop the bots. They are continually working toward improving their ability to detect these accounts. Right now, Instagram uses a kind of continuum to weigh all the data to try to determine who is fake or using automation and who is real and organic.

Avoid Fraud

We hope it goes without saying, but just in case, let’s just cover our bases.

  • Never engage a company to manage any part of your account.
  • Never, ever purchase likes or followers.

We really don’t understand why anyone would do this, but just in case you’re not convinced here are more reasons. Now that Instagram has made it incredibly clear that their goal is to eliminate all robotic activity and accounts, it should seem obvious that of all things to do, this is what not to do. If you are still willing to risk it all to appear bigger than you are, know that it will backfire with the new algorithm in place.

  • Engagement matters more than anything.
  • Engagement is based on percentages.
  • Fake followers significantly lower your engagement.
  • This is the whole reason that Instagram has made engagement king! It sifts out the fake activity and the fake accounts.

Ignorance is Not Bliss

Jodie and I used to think, “we’re not involved in any of that, so it doesn’t matter.” Sadly, ignorance is dangerous as well. It’s not enough to be a real account. You’re not safe just because you don’t use any automation or anything non-organic. Sadly, the computers can’t tell for sure. All they can do is interpret your actions.

The only way your account is protected from being hurt is to know how Instagram views your actions and respond accordingly.

typing at a laptop computer Instagram trust score

Hurting Your Trust Score: Spam-like Activity

Even though you are not a robot, the following activities can be interpreted as robotic. Therefore, these activities are risky and will ultimately lower your trust score. A low enough trust score can eventually lead to your account being banned.

  • over liking (there are hourly limits and daily limits)
  • repetitive comments (using the same words)
  • following too many people at a time
  • unfollowing too many people at once
  • following too many people in general (can be viewed as a growth strategy) Don’t follow more than 1500.
  • using hashtags that don’t connect to the content of your post or the content of your photo
  • repetitive hashtag use
  • tagging people in your photo that aren’t in your photo
  • overlapping people’s names tagged in your photo (viewed as tagging people just to increase your reach/engagement)
  • adding a bit.ly link to your profile (viewed as “known spammer link”) This was news to us until recently. Yikes.
  • direct messaging lots of people that don’t follow you (seen as soliciting)

Comment Pods

One of the latest strategies people have been trying recently are Comment Pods. This is when a group of accounts agree to comment on each other’s posts reciprocally. While this should not hurt your growth it actually will not benefit. It is a waste of effort.

IG sees this activity and regards it as “fake.” Anything done in a regular pattern, such as the same group of people always commenting on each other’s posts, is easily detected by the IG computers. Your time is much better spent spreading out your comments in a natural, organic way. This is just one more example how a “trick” or “strategy” backfires.

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Keeping Your Trust Score Safe

Does it sound like everything we do can possibly be misconstrued? Not to worry. Here is a good list of what you can safely do:

  • post regularly, one to two times a day is our recommendation
  • comment back on your own feed with sincerity
  • comment on others’ feeds with original wording
  • follow some people suggested by IG
  • as IG suggests, connect and follow your Facebook friends (only real people do this)
  • use only relevant hashtags. Hashtags that:
    • relate visually to the photo as easily determinable by a computer
    • are topic related
    • source objects in photos
    • relate to the content of your post

To learn more about how to use hashtags to grow your Instagram account read our blog post ‘Are You Using Hashtags to Win on Instagram?’

  • tag relevant people or brands only
    • people or brands mentioned in your wording of the post
    • place them spread out on your photo and never overlapping
    • people that are actually in your photo

Things that raise your Trust Score

  • lots of organic engagement on your posts
  • when verified accounts follow you, or like and comment on your feed
  • when high trust score accounts follow you or like and comment on your feed

Benefits of a High Trust Score

When you have a high trust score you can get away with activities that low trust score accounts could not. For example, having a bit.ly link or posting excessively.

Important to Note: Don’t look at a large, successful account and think, “If they can do this, I’m sure it’s fine and the right thing to do.”

Huge Successful Accounts with high Trust Scores can get away with all kinds of things that others either cannot or at least would suffer if they did.

This concept is hard because we are taught to look at the successful feeds and do what they do, and this is not always the case on Instagram. Remember the man behind the curtain.

What you can see is not the whole picture.

IG trust score, Rose colored laptop on bed with woven placemat and brown coffee cup.

Instagram is a Fluid Platform

  1. Instagram is purposefully mysterious. They don’t want anyone to know the algorithm because then people and bots would create ways to outsmart it.
  2. If you are trying to create ways to manipulate and outsmart IG or are doing anything that could possibly be seen as such, then look out. This is risky behavior.
  3. If you are using a new “trick” it will probably backfire.
  4. Instagram’s number one goal is to create an authentic platform, one that rewards quality content and real engagement.
  5. Engineers at Instagram are continually tweaking and testing. Every hour of every day changes are being made.
  6. This is why what worked last month may not work this month.
  7. Comparing what’s happening on one account to another is never reliable because IG tests certain accounts.
  8. A more accurate understanding of the Instagram algorithm is to imagine many different algorithms constantly in play at once.

The Mysterious Land of Oz and Your Trust Score

Instead of being frustrated by the challenges, Jodie and I choose to regard Instagram as a fascinating mystery to solve. In order to succeed we must pay attention, stay informed and be ready to shift our efforts as Instagram evolves. In the end, success seems fairly straight forward. To succeed on IG, we must play by the rules of the game. It’s their game, they make the rules. Those who try to cheat the wizard will be banished from Oz.

To learn more about the mysterious Instagram algorithm, read Later Media’s article, “This is How the Instagram Algorithm Works in 2019.”

jodie & julie

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What is Instagram's Trust Score and Why Should You Care?
Article Name
What is Instagram's Trust Score and Why Should You Care?
It's important to understand and maintain a high trust score. Learn which behaviors lower your trust score in order to maximize your Instagram success.
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The Design Twins
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  1. Cathy says:

    Is it me or does IG seem a little evil ( for a lack of better words) almost like a video game. Not sure I feel comfortable being a part of it. Although your posts regarding IG are extremely helpful, the more I read the more evil it sounds.

    • Cathy says:

      I have to add that I have met some beautiful people through IG. And I wouldn’t trAde their friendship infir the world.

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Cathy, I understand your tendency to react in this way, but they are a business. It isn’t “evil” to want your business to succeed and to do what you must to protect it and make it prosper. So many companies and individuals are trying to manipulate Instagram and use it for their own purposes, with all the fake buying and selling of Instagram influence, which really takes away the value of what is being shown on IG. In order to stop others from controlling and manipulating IG must take back the control. I don’t think this is evil at all. For all of us trying to grow organically I am for one grateful that Instagram is doing everything they can to reward authentic, quality accounts. Thanks for reading and thanks for your reply. Blessings, Julie

  2. Claire says:

    Good advice as usual ladies!!! I thought there was a score somewhere that I could find on my account???????? I wanted to see where I ranked! LOL!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      No one knows their trust score. It is the broad concept we are trying to convey, that everything you do affects where you sit on the continuum of “trust” within Instagram. Just follow the guidelines and you will be fine! Wishing you the best on your journey. XO ~ Julie & Jodie

  3. Liz says:

    Thank you–I love that you share all these things to help! Truly appreciate it!


    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Liz,
      Welcome to our blog! I’m not sure if you’ve been here before or not, but it’s great to have you join us. I just saw you on Instagram recently…I remember your name (because it was a little bit original hahahah) but I’m not joking…it was! We hope you come back and visit us again soon. Blessings, Julie & Jodie

  4. Sarah Maney says:

    Hi friends! Is there an actual way to know what your trust score is? You list some great action items that I’m going to try (who knew comment pods weren’t effective!?!), but I’d love to be able to measure results with how IG sees me.

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Sarah, As of now there is no way to learn of your trust score. It’s all behind-the-scenes at IG. They could tell you but then they’d have to kill you (haha…sorry couldn’t resist) So just keep checking back with us as we continue to research and report back all we learn to help you succeed. Blessings on your journey, Julie & Jodie

  5. Hi Julie- Lots of great information, but how do you determine your own trust score? I went to the link in a previous post and instagram does not even recognize trust score or trustscore in their search. Am I missing something? Thanks girls!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Trust Score is an unofficial term. It is being bantered about as a way to discuss the continuum that IG puts everyone on. IG does not acknowledge this…if they did they might call it something entirely different. It doesn’t matter…it’s all behind the scenes. They are not going to disclose any of this. It’s a way for us to explain and understand the algorithm. It is a way of describing more concretely the fact that everything you do on IG is seen, noted, and the data gathered, and it all adds up to what Instagram thinks of you. How much do they trust you? If you have a high “trust score” you can get away with A LOT! If you have a low “trust score” you might be one misstep away from being deleted. Hopefully that helps you understand a bit more. Thanks for reading, Julie

  6. Patti says:

    IG can be so confusing! ????
    But it’s fun, inspiring and a great way to learn decorating ideas as well as build relationships. My trust score is probably very low because I like so many different styles…… I’ll probably never figure it out, but appreciate all the insight and information you girls provide!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Patti, You’re such a sweet support to us. Thanks for reading our latest. Just continue doing what you do and enjoying all the intrinsic rewards…everyone’s path and purpose is different. We sure hope you enjoy yours. Blessings always, Julie & Jodie

  7. Lynndee says:

    Another great informative post! I really do appreciate your morals ladies. Thanks for the inspiring leadership too. – Lynndee

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Thank you Lynndee, That is a great compliment. And we sure do appreciate the kind appraisal. We also love your support here on the blog. We hope you will continue to stop by and learn lots as you do. Blessings & gratitude, Julie & Jodie

  8. Denise says:

    Wow so much to learn about IG. You once mentioned hashtags going away. Do you know when that will be happening? Thanks for sharing all your knowledge about IG once again!

  9. Jean C. says:

    I’m late to Instagram and am still a bit baffled by it. Your article was really helpful, though and, fortunately, I’m not guilty of any of the no-no’s. Yet. The one aspect that rises to the surface for me is “Engagement” – so important – but I try to remind myself that it should be “Authentic” Engagement. I’m glad I found your design blog the other day. I love the helpful tone and that you work with your sister! (My dear sister lives next door.) 😉

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Hi Jean,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to read our blog and to comment! Yes! Engagement! It sounds like you have gleaned the most important and overriding message we want to convey. IG is growing every day which means you are in very good company having just arrived! My best advice is to find a way to really make it FUN and REAL for you! Making friends, finding inspiration! That’s what will keep it authentic without even trying! –And I love that your sister lives next door! You are both so lucky!

      Best wishes,
      Jodie & Julie

      • Jean C. says:

        Yes, I love having my sister next door – I steal her ideas all the time and vice versa!

        • jjdesigntwins says:

          Jean, How wonderful that you have your sister next door. Jodie and I are a bit envious of that. We dream of the day when our husbands retire and we can either live next door or in one big house together (they don’t know that idea yet, haha!) Blessings to you, Julie & Jodie

  10. Cathy says:

    I tried to get on my instagram account just now and its gone. It comes up asking for my phone number which there is no way to post it. Do you know why that might happen. I miss my account. ???? If you have any idea why that might happen. Thank you.

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Cathy, OK, this has happened to every account recently. Instagram was hacked and they are verifying every account for our own protection. They are using 2 factor authentication to verify accounts, and this is done through your phone number. I’m not sure if you set this up already or not. I also don’t know where you are accessing your account, whether it is on your computer or your phone, or what type of phone you have…all these things could be factors in how exactly you remedy this to log into your account again. I would use Google to search for the procedure based on your exact situation. You can also search Instagram help online. Wishing you success, Julie

  11. J&J,
    I’m attempting to learn more about IG and your posts are so generous and helpful. Like Claire, I thought there might be a way to find my score! Ha!
    Your IG stories are a lot of fun. I recently moved from Walnut Creek to Fidalgo Island and appreciate your posts and stories from my beloved home town and new stomping grounds.
    Best, Julie

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Well, if you are attempting to learn more about IG you’ve come to the right place. We hope you make your way through our MANY posts. Treat it like a library. We believe if you make the time to read and learn from our posts you will have a much better chance of using your time and efforts on Instagram to your best advantage. Happy Reading, Sweet Friend! XO ~ Julie & Jodie

  12. […] real problem is that action blocks and spammy behaviors that will lower your Instagram trust score. The more this score lowers, the more you won’t be able to improve your Instagram engagement. To […]

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