Instagram, Algorithms and Social Media Stress

Since it’s a Monday morning, I figured we should start out the week with a light topic….like how Instagram is ruining EVERYTHING!!!

Instagram Changes

Okay, seriously, I’m kidding. Everyone take a deep breath, we can get through this together.

Remember when social media was simple? Ah, the good ole’ days, when you could follow someone on social media because you wanted to see what they were up to. And then, like magic, you could see what they were up to! But then came the Facebook algorithm and the whole internet lost their collective minds. No longer could we see the posts of our friends or companies we followed, now Facebook was deciding what we get to see! For small businesses like mine, it was the beginning of the end of my Facebook strategy.

I’ve talked before about how Instagram is my favorite social media platform (while Snapchat is closing in….) and it still is. But Instagram is about to change how the app works in a pretty dramatic way. If you’re totally confused and wondering what I’m talking about, this New York Times article lays it all out for you:

The photo-sharing service plans to begin testing an algorithm-based personalized feed for users, similar to one already used by its parent company, Facebook. That means it would shift away from the strictly reverse chronological order that the service has used since it began in 2010. Instead, Instagram will place the photos and videos it thinks you will most want to see from the people you follow toward the top of your feed, regardless of the time those posts were originally shared.

Sound familiar ? Instagram is now owned by Facebook, and while we all use these social media platforms for free, they are still companies that need to make money somehow. I get that, and I totally understand why they are changing. Technology evolves faster than we humans, though, so I also understand all of the freaking out. We liked how things were, and we don’t want them to change. I’ve worked really hard to grow my Instagram following, and have more than doubled in the past six months, so to know that all that hard work is now being compromised isn’t a good feeling. However….

I’m learning more and more that real social media reach isn’t about having a zillion followers, it’s about engagement. Sure, I don’t have the following of some photographers or writers, but I engage with the community I do have. I think 10 engaged and excited followers that are participating in your conversations are worth 1,000 followers who never like or comment. It’s about COMMUNITY, not POPULARITY.

(This is a great post about the algorithm change by Jasmine Star that is chock full of info!)

And so, I’m doing my best not to freak out about all the changes afoot. Yes, it will hurt small businesses. But as a blogger and an entrepreneur, the rules are always changing, and being adaptable is part of the game! If you’re looking for some ways to stay ahead of this thing (or if you’re just a recreational Instagrammer that wants to see your favorite posts) there are a few things you can do:

1. You can turn on “Post Notifications” – I’m sure you’ve seen this about 300 times in your feed by now, but by clicking on the three little dots in the upper right hand corner of a user’s photo, you can turn on post notifications and never miss a post by that person or brand. This is similar to what I’ve recommended with Facebook. However, at the moment this means that you will be receiving constant alerts and pop ups on your phone with notifications that people have posted a photo, which is no bueno for me! In the Facebook app, you can have the notifications turned on, but only popping up when you’re in the app. For Instagram, there is no way to do that, so it’s constant DING DING DING from my phone when I turn on post notifications. Soooo….that one doesn’t work for me, and I won’t be asking my followers to do that. But if you don’t mind the notifications, go for it! You definitely won’t miss a post! (My friend Cody wrote a fantastic post on this for her blog, if you want to learn more!)

2. Unfollow Accounts You Don’t Love – Are there certain accounts you never really even glance at, just scrolling by when you see their photos? Unfollow them! The less clutter in your feed, the less likely you’ll see images you don’t really want to.

3. Interact with Accounts You Do Love – The new algorithm is based on interaction, so if there are accounts you love seeing in your feed, let them know! Like, comment, and be a part of the community. The algorithm will see that and promote those posts to the top of your feed. If you’re a small business owner, make sure you’re engaging with your followers. Go to their pages and like/comment as well! The more you interact, the more likely your posts will stay at the top of their feeds as well.

4. Post Good Photos! –
This is a no-brainer, but make sure you’re posting quality images and captions if you want people to see them. The algorithm will be looking at images that are most pleasing to the eye, and those posts that have no captions will probably be bumped to the bottom.

Here’s the deal…Instagram isn’t trying to ruin our lives. Currently, according to their research, we only see about 30% of the photos in our feed. That means that 70% of what’s posted, we aren’t seeing anyway (unless we plan on scrolling through for hours on end). All they are trying to do is ensure that 30% is filled with our favorite posts. So let them know your favorites! And if you’re a blogger or small business owner, show your followers why you should be a favorite!

Instagram Changes

Then take a deep breath, chill and remember…it’s social media. It’s not the end of the world. And maybe get some ice cream. Ice cream always helps!

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4 replies
  1. Vanessa Calcara
    Vanessa Calcara says:

    This is good stuff! I couldn’t help but laugh this morning scrolling through my feed and seeing all the panic. I’m with you–let’s just eat ice cream and see how it all pans out 😉


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