I think everyone, big and small creators, has been griping about this for the past couple weeks. Instagram seemingly making it more difficult to for us to get our content seen. They’re only sharing it with 10% of our audience to figure out if people really like it. They’re not considering chronological posts so we can see what we want to see when and how we want to see it, ya know, all that. But I’m not mad about Instagram’s new algorithm changes mostly because I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Instagram is forcing a necessary and much-needed change on the platform. I’m also a little bit selfish because since Instagram has put content visibility on the decline since these changes – I’ve actually been thriving.
I’m serious, and I know that I’m actually in the minority here, but let me explain.
Why am I talking about this?
Now, to get this out of the way – what makes me qualified to opinionate on this topic? Since 2009, I’ve been working in digital communications. Even before I graduated college I started my career in Social Media Marketing and Digital Communications. I pay attention to these trends on a daily basis and work with data sets that tell me about the effectiveness of the platforms that I choose to recommend. As a food influencer, I use that knowledge to strategize with my own profiles to figure out what works in my world. It’s a fun duality. One of my worlds is heavily data-based, the other is full of experimentation. Because it’s a part of my day job, I had to figure out how these changes were going to affect the platforms I work with, and I really thought personally, and professionally what it means to me.
Where it all began.
A few days ago I started to see bloggers and brands from all over the world post messages about going to their profile, liking and commenting on 10 of their photos, and enabling notifications for their new posts because of Instagram’s new algorithm. There’s no shame in that. Giving your audience and your friends the call to action to go see your new posts and engage with your profile is the right thing to do, and should always be a part of your strategy. I don’t think that asking them to do that one time is going to put your profile at the forefront of their timeline. I also think you need to be authentic about it. Your audience most likely doesn’t care about the Instagram algorithm – spend more time making them care about your content and why they should want to see your stuff. (hint: by creating great content and filling a void they can’t live without AND engaging with your audience just as much as they show you love).
I’m actually really excited about this change because all of us as creators can’t rest on our laurels anymore. As a food blogger especially, I know that there are 1 million other people like me who share their food adventures. This levels the playing field. These changes ensure that we’re creating the best content possible for our viewers – stories that they can use to enhance their lives and find inspiration from. Ideally, we’re providing so much valuable information that our viewers are hooked and they want to keep learning from us. We’re not just sharing something empty. If someone isn’t seeing you, and they’re missing your content, they’ll come looking for you. If you’ve built a truly authentic connection with your audience, they will seek you out.
It’s sort of about the money for us and them.
Additionally, yes, Instagram wants to make money, they are a business after all (a business run by Facebook, which is also making some large-scale changes of their own), but it is beyond time for us to start thinking about running our blogs as our businesses too. I never intended for this blog to turn into a business, but in some ways it has. At times, I get paid for my work, ya girl pays taxes for what she earns. I sign contracts and work with big brands to produce content. If I want to grow, I know I have to invest – I know I have to advertise. I know that I have to spend time making authentic connections and building my own platforms. Our feeds are sometimes another job to keep up with, and if you decide to go into business, there’s some additional responsibility that comes along with that decision.
How am I changing with Instagram’s new algorithm?
Ever since the great shadowban of 2017, I decided to be more intentional about my content and engagement. Instead of pushing myself to produce a perfect post every single day, I posted the best things on my feed. I spent time developing my aesthetic, and engaging with accounts I love more than I post. It didn’t matter if I posted one day a week, or seven. I just became focused on what my audience wanted from me most. From October until now, I can tell a huge difference in my engagement. Success looks different to everyone, but I’m really happy with the content I’m producing and the engagement it’s bringing. It also feels much better to plan and focus, rather than push something out because I felt like I had to keep up with the feed.
All in all, platforms are going to evolve as we use them because the people using them change too. It is possible that in a year or so I’ll be among those who can’t stand the algorithm. For now, I’ll keep focusing on good content and authentic engagement. It’s working.
Is it fair for Instagram to change the game on us so drastically? Maybe not, but at the end of the day, it’s their platform and we must continue to change as they do if we want to use it as a place for connection and inspiration. Instagram’s new algorithm is going to get outdated sooner than we know it, and we’ll be looking for a new way to engage and change.
I’m probably alone in that sentiment, but I’m willing to sit out here on a ledge by myself for a little while until everyone comes around.