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The New Instagram

sarah-loven-instagram-profile

We’ve all heard about the new Instagram Algorithm, the thing all small businesses and Instagram personalities are fearing the most. After the huge cry of outrage once the world heard about what Instagram planned to do to us, Instagram promised they would hear us out and would only roll out a sort of “beta” of the update to “some” accounts in the coming weeks. Then everything died down, and I think most of us hoped that our voices were heard and respected.

But low and behold, the Instagram June 1st update has seemingly sneaked in some changes to an unknown percent of users, who say they are now experiencing the non-chronological feed. This change, like we all feared, has already taken some negative tolls on the app users- I, myself, being one of them…

instagram-likes-going-down

My feed is still chronological for the time being, but that doesn’t mean I’m not suffering from these algorithm updates. I’ve had a very noticeable decline in interaction on my posts, which only started on June 1st. It was almost immediately I noticed a huge lack of response to my first post that day, and I thought it just must’ve been an off day. But when it continued the next day, and the day after, and on throughout the week, I knew something was wrong, and I suspected the update.

I did a lot of research the following days, digging into analytics of Instagram over time, and hearing professionals talk about how what was once a relatively new social media platform, is now becoming “aged”, and filled with an extremely large amount of users. With an aged app, comes the “content overload”, more and more people to follow, and thus less opportunities for people to see your photos because their feed has become overflowing with users content. This is where I can understand why Instagram is trying to remedy the problem and keep the app useful. They are giving us this algorithm to make sure we see our favorite content, without telling us everything good always comes to an end.

If anything, these stats have shown how while Instagram has grown in users, interaction on everyone’s posts spiked during 2013, steadily rising until the recent algorithm updates started this year. At that point, interaction for everyone starting dropping. But the interaction of comments was highest in 2014 to early 2015, where it drops to less than half it’s percent in 2016.

I ran my own stats on my posts (see below photo), comparing my most popular posts from each month of the last 3 years, from January until the update on June 1st. Then you can see the steep drop in interaction on my posts after June 1st’s update (see above photo). Statistics from professionals have shown that around late 2014 – early 2015, Instagram was as its peak, with interaction at it’s highest. I can vouch for that, knowing that I generally got even MORE likes and comments on most my photos last year this time, than I do this year. It makes sense, there were less people trying to use IG as a business venture, and less people to follow. But now, so many people rely on IG for their businesses, and new bloggers pop up every single day. People who have multiple accounts, brands, stores, companies… think of everyone who has an account and wants to have followers. But, naturally, us real Instagram users only want to follow a reasonable number of people so we can keep up to date with their content. So, I don’t blame those who go around mass-unfollowing people these days. I, myself, need to do it, as I follow about 3,000 people after my 4 years of using the app, and I never get to see content from 90% of these people.

instagram-stats-over-years

Back to the point about businesses… as IG becomes more of a standard, more businesses join. They rely on bloggers and content creators such as myself to spread the word and gain exposure about their brand. Instagram has now hinted at one of the new features coming……. the business account page. Not unlike Facebook, where all us businesses went out and created FB fan pages, only to find our posts weren’t being shown to our fans, this will lead to IG being able to clearly separate normal users (the consumers) from the business accounts (merchants). What then? Probably an algorithm that limits what followers see our posts, and a need to gain exposure. The solution to this problem? Enter the big shiny Ad.

We have all seen the subtle ads on Instagram, which were rare in popping up maybe 1-3 times throughout my whole feed. But with the new update, we hear of users saying the primary spotlight is now on these ads, popping up every 10-15 photos or so. Why? Because… businesses! When companies want exposure, especially with the new algorithm, they will being paying Instagram, not the bloggers. Because the new algorithm doesn’t post us in chronological order anymore, the algorithm decides what you’re “most interested in”, or in other words, controls what you see.

Some huge Instagram personalities have been approving of the new update, saying it’s all great! But likely, they have been paid off to say these things, because they really don’t have to worry about it. The truth is, a robot cannot assume a human persona, and know what I may be interested from one day to the next. It already judges us if we comment too much, or with too many similar comments, which greatly limits the amount of interaction I can have with those I follow. Add to that the new algorithm, taking away the ability for us to post when we know our unique followers will most likely be on, and now there is no longer a rhyme or reason to this new Instagram. And less of a need for Instagram bloggers, when ads can be bought.

So there you go, that is the basic reason for the update.
Maybe you have been seeing a decline in interaction from your followers? It’s probably because the IG robot has pushed your content out of their feed, deeming that because they may not have liked your last photo, or commented much, that means they never want to see your posts again. Clearly, the robot knows what’s best for us.

Is Instagram seeing the inevitable death of their creation in the near future? Are they just going to pump and dump, then abandon ship? Make all the money in a large commercial push with ads and companies, take advantage of what they can before they either scare us away or die a slow death? Eeek!

It may sound like the end is near for all us beloved and loyal Instagram users. We have been with it from the beginning, before Facebook got its hands on it and is trying to smother it like it did with it’s own social media platform. But don’t lose hope. Though changes come, we learn to adapt. And even if it may not last forever, I have some tips on how to remain relevant through all this, keep up your likes and comments, and stay connected with your followers! Stay tuned for my next post!

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