INSTAGRAM’S GONE TO SHIT, NOW WHAT?
I don’t want to say I told you so, but I mean, I really did tell you so.
Dear instagrammers, I don’t want to say I told you so, but I mean, I really did tell you so (three years ago to be precise).
That said, I still slogged away at it myself for the last few years in hope of growth (none) or some turn in events that made it a more positive and inclusive place to succeed (no chance), ignoring my own wise words that this social platform was only going to go to pot.
I did a personality test recently and two of my strongest attributes were hope and perseverance, and truly that explains a lot. Despite missing the wave back when instagram launched (and forever feeling bitter about my ‘low follower numbers’ compared to others that started blogging when I did – all on 100k minimum now), despite never growing and staying stagnant for years (no matter what I do or how much love I put into my content), and despite feeling shit most the time about the content I worked so hard to create going literally nowhere (and other accounts with seemingly low quality visuals flying?) … I persevered. I really did. I really hoped ‘luck’ would come my way, I hoped finally it might shift gear and the algorithm might go in my favour. I hoped maybe people would discover my account, and follow along. I hoped, I persevered (and ironically now more than ever really I kinda like the visual style I’ve created) but do you know my reward? 5% of my followers seeing my posts. 26 likes despite 14,100 followers, and genuinely what feels like a big old ‘you can’t sit with us’.
It’s not just me, even the ‘big dogs’ are moaning now, perhaps there 26 likes is 26,000 but it’s still 1/5 of what it used to be, perhaps their 5% equates to 100,000 followers, but its’ still 5% .. everyone’s feeling trodden down, deflated and generally … perhaps … over it?
If you’re a long time reader here, you’ll know I’ve harped on and on and on about the value of owning your own platforms, the risk of a business built on social media, why I still back blogging (over a social first strategy) even today and I’ve not really talked much about the emotional / self esteem side of a platform built on virtual likes, but I’m super aware and not a fan of that either. Now more than ever I feel instagram has lost it’s way, it’s origins in creativity no longer exist, it’s a business now and in turn the algorithm feeds off that shit. It wants money, not creativity. It’s a clique, not an inclusive platform for all. And worst of all, it’s gone from a platform fueling positivity, to one that now genuinely seems to be driving a nation of low self esteem, comparison and virtual social gratification … not to mention consumerism.
Don’t get me wrong, I see the positive movements out there, gaining their voice and galvanizing support. But if you’re honest with yourself, the underlying social currency Instagram operates on isn’t healthy. For every positive movement, there’s a 17 year old sat devastated that her latest bikini photo isn’t getting likes, doubting her self, her body, her worth …
There’s been chat about ‘ditching the likes’, it might have even been Kanye who broached the topic (heaven forbid, it could be the first bit of sense that mans ever talked, I even I couldn’t help but listen) … and this could help, perhaps. But the problem is the platform has been built on likes, followers and engagement driving success, to take it away won’t necessarily eradicate the addiction to checking those stats for yourself, comparing the opportunities you get (or don’t get) to those of others and for being a numbers driven platform (lets not forget all the brands and advertisers STILL basing their campaign partners on those numbers). I wonder if really the damage has been done?
The algorithm changed the game … it stopped you seeing the content of people you follow, in the order of which it was posted, into some kind of undefined popularity contest where if you didn’t’ cut it in the first 10 seconds your work was sent to the bin, there was no hope of anyone seeing it, not even all those people who actively signed up to you and pushed subscribe. The single and most prominent act of stating you WOULD like to see someones content. The algorithm took logic out of the way, it created disorder, comparison, competition and just a total lack of consistency for content creators and followers alike.
If you want my two pence, the only way to restore order at this point in time, is to go back to the origin. If you subscribe to an account, you want to see that content. It’s the whole point of ‘following’ someone. On that basis, I don’t need an algorithm to decide which order I see those peoples content, or indeed, whether I see it at all.
The biggest joke of all right now, is I have other accounts (a home one and an interior one), and even on MY OWN feeds where I follow myself (don’t judge), MY OWN CONTENT isn’t shown!!!
If that’s not instagram gone to shit, then I don’t know what is.
SO NOW WHAT?
All this said, I can’t see myself braving it and deleting the app for good, once again trusty perseverance and hope struggle through and take the lead (plus I love sharing my photography and getting inspired by those people I follow). I do think though, that something must change, what ever developments have come into play this month have not worked for anyone and it’s about time Instagram listened.
I for one will be continuing to channel my energy and efforts into the one platform I OWN, and I have control of, my blog. I talked about the importance of your own platform over three years ago and I think now more than ever it stands true. Who knows what further developments are around the corner and how they could impact your Instagram account and Instagram success … with such poor engagement and reach right now, brands will soon start looking at the data and questioning how their investment is stacking up and that’s when the tides will really start to change.
Whilst Instagram’s drivers might be profit, they’re only really shooting themselves in the foot right now by so significantly impacting peoples reach. In today’s data driven marketing world, no savvy business is going to keep ploughing advertising investment into a medium that isn’t delivering the returns it once did for them. And I am saying that from the advertising side of the fence, not the blogging side of the fence.
And lets not forget the founders left Facebook only last year, with an elusive statement suggesting they don’t back where it’s going either. I can imagine it’s only a matter of time before we see the next big thing, from them, or other creative entrepreneurs wanting to make positive change (and take on the giants currently ruling the social media space).
I’d love to hear your thoughts, as Instagrammers, as content creators, as followers, as marketeers. Thoughts on a postcard …