Though it seems far away now, I can still remember a time where your app was about sharing day to day squares. The first photo that ever hit my feed was a shot of the stage at an Avicii concert. Judging by the hashtags it was apparently an #epicnight. Following that post is a flat lay of my outfit from that same event. Did we even call them “flat lays” back then? I shared it because I was obsessed with the detailing on that top. My hardest decision that night was probably choosing which of your in-app filters to use.
I miss those days.
Instagram, your app has definitely evolved over the years, but the idea is still the same: you give an online venue for creators to share what they want, when they want. With the addition of stories, you gave us the ability to share snips of our day that may not have been “feed worthy”. I remember jumping on that feature immediately. I was never a huge Snapchat fan, because it always seemed like an additional platform to maintain. It was so nice to have a similar quick share feature on a platform that I already loved.
Change is good. Additions are usually good. Apps evolve and so do its users. Instagram, you’ve gone from a place of sharing daily squares to creators now sharing magazine style content that they get paid for. It’s amazing and inspiring in every way.
What I find the least amazing and uninspiring, Instagram, is that nowadays your algorithm makes it nearly impossible for creators to reach their online audiences through your app. Mind you those audiences are ones that we took years to build. Years of people joining your app so that they could follow their favorite bloggers and influencers. It makes me wonder where your app would be today without the loyal content creators living inside of it. It could be argued that you, Instagram, might have had your 15 minutes of fame just to fall to the wayside and make way for a new social media app. Crazy to think, right?
We’re all complaining about it lately – that mysterious algorithm of yours. The one that deciphers how far our posts will actually go after we click that blue “share” button.
In a world where engagement, likes, and comments somewhat matter, this makes using your app just a tad bit frustrating. I can’t say that I’ve always felt this way. When I’d see bloggers complain about the mysterious “Instagram algorithm” I used to shrug it off. I’d chock it up to the following assumptions: “if they want more engagement, they should create better content”, “they should do something different than what everyone else is doing”, “Instagram found out they’re buying engagement in unauthentic ways and now they’re being punished for it”.
This was all before I started noticing my own account taking an abrupt hit. Now I get it.
Instagram, I put passion into my content. The concept, the ideas for shots – it’s all thought out (with the exception of the occasional candid). My husband and I put time, sweat, (sometimes) tears into the content that I create for my platforms. When companies repost the content I create for them, it’s the ultimate cherry on top to a job well done.
I’ve stuck to the so-called Gram rules. I left the only engagement group I ever participated in because it felt anything but authentic. I’ve never ever purchased likes or followers (shame on anyone who does). There’s never been a bot linked to my account to generate fake engagement. I’ve truly kept my presence in your app as authentic as possible.
And all for what?
Half the time my posts aren’t even seen by a quarter of my audience. That’s the true issue. What’s up with that, Instagram? I can deal with a photo reaching a low amount of likes. Likes are a vanity number anyway. What I don’t understand is why my content needs to be hidden from people who have chosen to follow me through the years. It seems unfair.
Do I blame you? I don’t know. To be honest Instagram, you’ve changed so much that it’s hard to tell where to really place the blame. I could even blame myself for relying so heavily on a third party app when I’ve had my own platform here on my blog all along.
These days I’m thankful that I have a blog that can serve as a direct channel to my audience. No struggle for reach. No struggle for likes or trying to figure out what hashtags to use for maximum impact. Just my own corner of the web that I get to control, curate, and focus on.
I’ll leave you with this, Instagram. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve realized that my audience and I deserve better. So, will I still build out my ‘Gram grid? Of course. And will I still story throughout the day? Absolutely. Will I stress over reach, engagement, and the fact that you won’t show my feed posts to followers? Nope, no more of that. I’ll continue to post, but only for the thrill of it. Like it used to be in the good ole Gram days.
I lost sight of what Instagram truly should be for me as a blogger: an extension, not a focus. I’m fully realizing that now.
My audience knows where to keep up with me and I can assure you that it’s outside of your tiny squares.
A blogger that’s so over the algorithm