100K views on Instagram

We put up this little the clip up on Instagram on Friday:


Note that Instagram embeds don’t currently work on the forum. I’m looking into that now, so this post is partly a test because we need a post with an Instagram link in it. Just click on through to the post itself to check it out.

Anyway… As of this morning this post has 100,000 views and counting, in only a couple days. And the page itself has added 3500 followers in that same amount of time. Counts are still going up as I type this.

It’s a cool post and all — I think the “displacement” concept is pretty interesting. But this is multiples of any other Instagram post we’ve done, and that even includes ones we’ve boosted for a few days. Very unusual.

On the web, when you see sudden traffic spikes it usually means someone linked to us. Maybe a guitar magazine wrote something and linked to the site, that kind of thing. But Instagram is a black box, and I really have no idea what goes on in there. But if this traffic is coming from somewhere specific, I’d like to know about it. I don’t think it’s possible for a high-follower-count individual to “link” to us in the web sense of the term. They’d have to report or include something in a story, and I’m not seeing that. Unless I just missed it.

Any ideas?

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Total shot in the dark: maybe the keyword “displacement” is favored by the algorithm right now with regards to Ukrainians fleeing their homes?

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Ha, that’s some out-of-the-box thinking. Who knows, maybe? I suppose we could have “displacement week” on the Cracking the Code Instagram account. Everyone’s favorite picking error, more examples coming up!


For what it’s worth, I have a google alert set for the term “cracking the code”, and nothing relevant has popped there in the past week.

Aha, that’s a good point, didn’t think of that.

Then whatever it is, it seems like it’s internal to Instagram. The same video cross-posted to Facebook got all of six comments and a trickle of views. Instagram is up to 132K and apparently still going, though I think it’s slowing down. Crazy.

Hey Troy,

The following might not be helpful, but if curious about guesses…

Sometimes it’s just random. A bunch of variables may have aligned this one time that put the video on a lot of people’s explore pages, and I believe sometimes that stuff is exponential in that the more the metrics increase in a short period of time, the more they continue to increase (for a limited time.)

I don’t know how much you fiddle with “insights” within the page, but since it’s a feed post you can see % of hits from the explore page vs this that and the other, and compare against other posts to see what’s up.

You can also hit the “…” on your own post and see if anybody has shared on their story - that doesn’t necessarily notify you, you have to access it if they did not also tag you. It’s likely too late now as the stories only stay up for 24hr, but you’ll be able to see how many people ‘shared’ the post, and I think (Could be very wrong) that the ‘share’ metric includes PMing others as well as sharing in story.

There’s a bunch of whacky stuff that goes into The Algorithm and changes all the time. Sometimes I scope out other pages views on different posts and I frequently see huge swings post to post.

Follow More For One Weird Trick To Increase Views…

I do browse the “Insights” stats occasionally and one thing I’ve noticed is that they can be unreliable. If I manually jot down followers before and after we run a post, the “followers” gained metric is usually off, with the “insights” number being sometimes substantially higher than the number I see on the screen and on SocialBlade. That would seem to be a pretty easy thing to track, I don’t know why there would be variability there.

Just for fun here the insights screenshots from this post. They’re hilariously over the top. Let me know if you notice anything there.

Re: the “…” shares stat, that one I didn’t know about! I’m only seeing one share in there right now, but that would have been good to check while it was going nuts the first couple days. There could very well have been some shares in there contributing to the momentum.

You’re probably right that this is just the vagary of the algorithm at work. It’s just interesting that we haven’t noticed this type of action before. The biggest swings we typically see are the difference between an 8k video and maybe a 20k video, something like that. If we promote it, we can see 30k. I’ve never seen a 160k (and counting). Those are Vai-like numbers.

Let’s just call it what it is (though that depends on what the meaning of the word is is…) – a great concept that got wildly popular almost instantly :slight_smile: In all the time I’ve spent on here I’ve never come across pick displacement. This is ‘swipe’ level cool :sunglasses:

The funny thing is I think it’s pretty common, and we probably see it all the time. Any time you see someone who has what looks like a fast single escape motion, and they are playing a line that in theory shouldn’t be playable with that type of motion, there is a good chance this is at least partly what you’re seeing.

It’s tricky to do it intentionally as a demonstration, as per the Instagram clip. But it’s easy to do unintentionally if you just turn off your brain and “go for it” on any number of repeating patterns. As an example, you have a great-sounding elbow technique. What happens if you try to do fours with that motion?

Can you get something like this to be fast, feel smooth, and sound at least reasonably accurate? Ignore the picking, that’s from the Volcano seminar. Just do it with what feels like pure alternate.

If you give that a shot I’d be interested in seeing it, make a TC thread about it.

I will give it a go. Feels like I’m tripping over hurdles on a first try. The USX rotational thing I’ve been working on (and this is me so who knows if it’s USX or rotational) I can sort of get this going and almost engineer in the displacement, much like I’d plan out swiping if I knew it was a swiping lick.

I’ll work on the elbow version. Or maybe I’ll work on both and get a video to compare.

Have you noticed anyone in the interviews you’ve done where this happens? I know there was a little weirdness with Cooley and Harrison at their extreme tempos and I saw another thread on that in the last several months. I think you called it “ghosting” or something?

I actually do another form of ghosting on guitar, all the time. I tell a particular song that I’m going to learn it, then that song never hears from me again. HAHAHAHAHAHA! I make myself laugh at the stupidest dad jokes these days…


Yes lots of displacement in Rusty’s technique, along with ghosted pickstrokes, less so on the swiping. The descending sixes example in the other thread is a really interesting example where he’s going at hyperpicking speeds, but every third motion stops just a little shy of the string. I doubt you could work that kind of thing out a slow speed. It wouldn’t even have occurred to me to do that.

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@Troy I’m definitely not a whiz with that stuff my impressions re: your screenshots, seems like, proportionately, quite a lot of explore page hits! Of course it could have been put on a good spot on the ‘explore’ OR a few big channels might have shared it in their stories, prompting more traffic, then increasing the reach and signaling to the algorithm to put it on the explore page. Seems like a lot of sharing/messaging of the post.

Yeah it’s cool to see who is sharing it in their stories! I wish there were a notification for that. I’m guilty of checking it frequently anytime I make a post. If someone’s page is private then I won’t see it, but it’s cool to see which content gets spread around like that vs not.

A friend of mine has been having a lot of success on reels…sometimes. It’s funny, he’ll post somewhat similar content and sometimes get 10k views and sometimes hundreds of thousands. One of them got half a million views…for some nerdy guitar thing. I was messaging with him about it, his basic response was “I have no idea.” hah.

Maybe Millie Bobby Brown shared that last one.


I had no idea people were getting hundreds of thousands of views on Instagram that aren’t teen influencers. I checked Cory Wong’s page earlier, and even with 400k followers he doesn’t seem to get those kind of numbers. So that’s interesting to know.

Who is the friend who got half a million? If it’s top secret, no worries, that’s fine.

You can’t. I tried when you mentioned it in the other thread. I’m not sure how an overcorrection like that even happens on a subconscious level.

The displacement I could see being easier to do that way, but admittedly I honestly didn’t exactly catch what you were describing in the video because I couldn’t really see strings/notes they intended to play with the fretting hand, and it just looked like starting a phrase on an upstroke.

no it’s cool, he’d probably appreciate the hype: Zakk Jones, @beyondthefrets is on Instagram • 14.1k people follow their account

There are a couple of reels there that now have >600K views

He’s a fantastic player and educator, and I think the lessons he posts are well suited to the reel format.

Oh, also, you’re not quite right about Cory Wong - look at the reels: CORY WONG (@coryjwong) • Instagram photos and videos

I think reels are favored these days, but I know there’s more to it than that. I just checked, you guys haven’t been posting any! I think my reels generally get something like 5x as many views as my other posts, but there are more variables involved because I make them a little differently.

It’s true, we don’t use reels. And have never posted a story either. I just remember when stories came out, they were basically IG’s answer to Snapchat. I’m already overwhelmed, the last thing I can do is put any effort at all into something that disappears. There’s just no way.

Reels, I’ve heard the term, but I don’t know when those arrived. Do they disappear or stick around? If so what’s the difference between that and any other video?

Sorry, I know Google is my friend!

I think instagram is a little messy in trying to keep these different formats straight - they basically add new things to copy what others are doing, but retain their original formats, so it can be a little confusing.

Stories were ig’s answer to snapchat - reels are ig’s answer to TikTok.

Reels stay on your page, off the top of my head the main differences are:

  • reach to non followers - basically instagram pushes reels to “new audiences” much, much more than regular posts. I could try to articulate specifics but I’d probably fumble and also be incorrect, but it has a lot to do with copying the way TikTok works. I think the simplest thing is that IG wants to encourage users to use/make reels, so, the algo favors it.

  • it’s easier to do certain types of edits in-app, such as adding text, audio, clipping things together, yadda. For normal video posts those things basically have to be done in some other program. You might notice reels more often have text in them, which i think everybody is realizing winds up being pretty smart because so often folks are scrolling through their phones with the sound off.

Stories are still useful just for visibility, imo. Just another way to get/sustain eyeballs, there are also some different features stories offer, and the nature of the layout and presentation of them makes them useful for certain things. Since they disappear, I feel like there’s a lower bar of expectation for ‘quality’ or ‘usefulness,’ and something can be more so just ‘neat’ or mildly entertaining. Sometimes if I haven’t had the energy or time to make a feed post I might post stuff on my story.

One of the most practical uses of stories imo is promoting new content or products, whether within instagram or not, because you can link directly, user can tap on the link in the story and be sent there.

For example if I ever finish a book I started a while ago, once it was public I could post a ‘story’ telling people about it, with a direct link for purchase in the story, so it’s a pretty frictionless, minimal-click process for getting a user to take a certain action. That is, they click once and then immediately have an option to purchase. Comparing that with a regular post where you might go ‘link in bio’ so the user has to be interested enough to exit that page, go to a new page, find the little link up top, yadda. And posting the same story every month or so, reminding folks of the same link, is i think less annoying than a feed post.

I also enjoy stories for shit posting, but I try to spread that across all mediums and forms of communication.

This is super useful, thank you!

So basically Reels because they cast a wider net, and you can add text if you care to. But they still appear on the main page and there is no practical downside.

Stories because you can add links. That in itself is a big win over the “link in bio” two-step which has always royally sucked. Next time we have something to sell we’ll make a story. I have no interest / bandwidth for making disappearing videos otherwise though. Will people care if stories from us are only ever ads? Or would that actually be a positive, e.g. “Oh look they’re having a sale again”?

You’re welcome!

So basically Reels because they cast a wider net, and you can add text if you care to. But they still appear on the main page and there is no practical downside.

yes - there’s more editing stuff you can do too, and I think they basically just show up in more different places on the app.

Will people care if stories from us are only ever ads? Or would that actually be a positive, e.g. “Oh look they’re having a sale again”?

My instinct would be that that would be fine, considering that you probably wouldn’t be doing it every day. Also, CTC isn’t really an entertainment channel so I’d assume anybody following is specifically interested in solving picking problems, so would at least not be ‘turned off’ by knowing about products, upcoming interviews etc. If someone is ‘consuming’ ig stories I think they have an understanding of the level of quality/importance of what they’re consuming; stories are very casual.

I have no interest / bandwidth for making disappearing videos otherwise though.

Not that I have any skin in this game, but proposing one idea: I’d imagine there’s a lot of time when you personally are tooling around with something, or trying to get closer to an answer for something (on the guitar,) probably enjoying what you’re doing, probably interested in the process even if you don’t have a valuable conclusion yet. So I think one use of stories could be a very casual documentation of that kind of thing - as in, phone vid of some sloppy attempt at a lick you were working on anyway, tiny bit of text, that’s it. there’s no intent to be making content, and there’s barely any time or energy added to what you were already doing.

I know I personally would have a lot of fun seeing those from you, and I’m probably not alone.

Stories have a more direct connection with DMs because you can’t ‘comment’ on them publicly, and so even doing dry-runs of things you’d also be getting a temperature on how interesting that thing was to your audience, and questions sent via DM might actually be helpful in helping clear up misunderstandings about initial explanations of the topic.

When I was more active on ig that would be a common thing I’d on stories, just post a bit about something I was personally working on, even if I hadn’t cleaned it up yet - or was making no progress, hah. And what kind of engagement I’d get was useful feedback. Since my thing is teaching rather than performing, I think people just casually seeing process was/is good advertising anyway.

And I do believe - but could be totally wrong - that some story posts with frequency, with good engagement, winds up being a good thing for the channel in general in terms of algo, but again I could be remembering that wrong or just making it up.

Point is, stories can be like, very low investment, and they can have a nice personal touch too. This was just an idea that came to mind but I’d imagine there are a lot of things in the CTC process that are thematically similar to what I described.

Selfishly, I think it would be really cool to get little glimpses of what your process is like!

Anyway, just some food for thought I guess before dismissing the avenue entirely.

PS For whatever it’s worth, I’ve really been enjoying following a woman on IG named Allie Mason who is basically a very not-bro-y social media manager/growth coach etc. The on-topic piece of that is that I think she has a non-dogmatic approach to discussing how the algorithm works and new changes instagram announces, things like that. I feel like the market she is often addressing in her posts are business owners and freelancers who aren’t necessarily interested in instagram or social media (and maybe even burnt out/sick of it) but see it as a useful tool and want to optimize their efforts.

This is all super valuable, thank you!

Re: stories, it’s not so much the time commitment, but the extra mental burden of having to consider whether every single thing I’m doing at any given moment in the day might be useful to blast out to the world. It just feels like that’s the bridge too far.

It’s already a challenge coming up with web site ideas, lesson ideas, interview ideas, and so on. If I’m not thinking while shaving, folding the laundry, riding the train, or walking to the deli, then I’m likely to miss some awesome idea that we should be working on. It’s a constant struggle to find the spare cycles.