It all started with a post on Instagram earlier this week.
After all of the encouraging comments and DMs, I decided to elaborate on the recent issues we are all facing with Instagram.
Believe it or not, not all influencers are millennials who are running around the city, trying to get free things and taking pics of their coffee every morning. To some of us, it’s not about how many likes we get on our last selfie or how cute we look with that new Louis Vuitton bag that we can’t afford. So let’s squash that stereotype right now, shall we?
I didn’t sign up for Instagram to become a blogger or influencer, but it has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve always loved to write and found a love for photography over the years, so what started as a hobby, actually saved our family. In 2018, our lives were turned upside down. After over 10 years with the same company, my husband lost his job. That was basically our only source of income. After leaving my job at the end of 2014, I had been dealing with a vicious anxiety disorder that kept me in the house most days, afraid to leave. Due to circumstances beyond our control, Super Dad wasn’t going to be able to get another job and it just wasn’t an option for me to try to find work outside of the house because the thought of it alone sent me into a panic.
If it wasn’t for Instagram, the connections I made and the tools I learned, I honestly believe we would have been homeless.
Many influencers and bloggers are like me. We are just regular people. We are parents. We are people who are unable to find work outside of the home. We are dreamers. We are entrepreneurs. We are regular people who found this fun, almost magical hobby, that we have somehow turned into a way to support our families. Not a day that goes by that I don’t include social media in my list of things I’m grateful for, Instagram at the top of that list.
But things have changed. Much like the changes that were made to Facebook, where it seems to be more about the advertising dollar, Instagram is becoming harder and harder to connect with people in a genuine way. I get it… social media is a free tool that was not intended for us to use for free advertising, but it was intended as a place for us to connect with people, whether it’s people we know or people we admire or people who have a struggle that they need to share. These days, with the algorithm and long list of things we can’t do, it’s become nearly impossible to connect with anyone.
I often wonder what the people at Instagram think about influencers. Are they just as annoyed by us as that ice cream truck owner in CA that went viral for threatening to charge influencers double?
Why do they assume that people liking, commenting or following others very quickly, are all participating in suspicious activity? Maybe they should consider that a lot of those users are getting a 5 minute break from their crying babies or daily chores or day job to escape reality and have to hurry up before anyone notices they are gone.
What Can Instagram Do?
I think it would be incredible for Instagram to connect with all types of users (celebs, influencers, businesses and people who use it to connect with friends and family throughout the world). Find out what we love about Instagram and what would make it a better experience for us. Find out what stops us from connecting and what makes this popular social network, not so social anymore.
THE ALGORITHM: I understand that algorithms are necessary. But, what if it’s it’s causing the most issues? When we follow someone, it means we want to see what they post. The algorithm has made that nearly impossible, unless we follow less than 20 people. Currently, my feed consists of 20 or so posts from the same account (whom I’ve never engaged), a couple of sponsored posts and a post from my husband’s distant cousin. They range from an hour ago to 4 days ago and then jump back to yesterday. It’s confusing. I missed so many important events because I don’t see the post until a week later. So if the algorithm is supposed to show us what we want to see, why is it doing the exact opposite? It’s not showing me the most popular posts. It’s showing me things it thinks I want to see and I can tell you that of the top 25 posts on my feed, I only really wanted to see 1.
The Result: Since I can’t possibly remember all of the accounts I want to catch up on, I wind up missing all of their new posts and becoming “that friend” that is always on Instagram but doesn’t like or comment on their posts, ever.
Possible Solution: Bring back the chronological feed! Take a poll. Ask how many people want the chronological feed back. I’d be willing to guess most, if not all. I know there is a .00001% chance that Instagram will go back to the chronological feed, but a girl can dream.
OVER-ENGAGING: I want to engage with my audience, so I used to go through my recent posts and like each of the comments and try to reply to as many as I can. Engagement is the whole point of social media, isn’t it? Well, I got blocked. Blocked from liking the comments that were made on my own post. Maybe I was going too fast? Well, I have a family and a life outside of social media, so I have limited time to engage with my followers, but was I wrong for liking those comments? I thought that’s why they added those little hearts to begin with. Should I have been blocked for a week because of it? Should I have had over 700 of my posts disappear in what seemed like some sort of punishment for engaging? Luckily the posts re-appeared after my week of timeout but it definitely stressed me out and hurt my business. There was also the time that I hurt my finger and couldn’t type, so I was using my voice-to-text, to comment and I got blocked because apparently I was commenting too quickly. More time out for me.
The result? I’ve stopped liking the comments on my posts and I reply to just a few. I’m much less engaging and I find I lose followers because of it.
Possible Solution: Set limits based on account type. Note that occasionally, we use that little microphone instead of typing, to save time. We are not all spammers and shouldn’t be treated as such.
FOCUS ON THE REAL PROBLEM: I recently saw something that really disturbed me and I will never be able to unsee… a video of a man dancing around naked with his junk flopping all over the dang place. I reported the video right away and got a response saying “the post you reported does not violate our Community Guidelines…” But apparently, my liking the comments on my own post too fast, did violate those same guidelines.
The result? I am still trying to figure out how my likes are more offensive than a man’s genitals doing the wave.
Possible Solution: Focus on the spammers, hackers, pedophiles, cyber-bullies and exhibitionists that are making everyone’s experience worse. Once that’s been taken care of, then you can come back to us normal folk who are just trying to make a living (especially those of us that pay to promote our posts whenever we can).
Instagram, if you happen to come across this blog post, I hope you take this one user’s thoughts into consideration. Imagine how much more powerful Instagram could be, if the users had a say in their own experience?
Oh… and please don’t delete my account.