I know, I know. I’m normally banging on about how much I love this little app on my phone, but for a change, let’s talk about my bugbears with Instagram.
‘Instagram is killing blogs!’
…Said every blogger over the past year or so. (Except me, although I did have to restrain myself from publishing the post I’d written that said pretty much that.)
It has to be said that people have less time for reading blogs these days. I’ve noticed, like most other bloggers, that our sites have lost traffic compared to a few years ago. I’ll admit that in the four years that I’ve been running this blog, my traffic is waning compared to the ‘good old days’.
Where do we point the blame? Instagram, primarily.
Why? Because it’s easy to see why Insta would have a negative effect on the blogosphere. It keeps people on the app, for starters, which keeps them away from our blogs. So as a promotional tool, it’s not massively effective. Blog posts are getting fewer reads, and lower amounts of engagement, so it’s easy to see why we’re hopping over to Instagram for instant gratification.
Smartphones are leaving us with a shorter attention span too. Why spend five minutes reading someone’s blog post when you could spend five minutes looking at pictures from myriad people and occasionally double-tapping on the ones you really like? It opens up a larger world of possibility.
We don’t have as much time for reading blog posts, because our time online is being taken up by so many other things. We’re being pulled in a multitude of different directions and something’s got to give. Obviously, blogging has taken a hit because of this.
I guess for a lot of bloggers it’s easier to use too. We’re all busy people, and it’s far more convenient to upload a few snaps to Stories than it is to write a full diary post on your blog documenting your day.
It’s easier to upload one photo to your grid that gets 100 likes within a few hours, as opposed to spending five hours crafting a blog post that gets fewer readers than that. It takes time to write, edit, proofread, and take photos for a post. Posting an Instagram photo takes far less time and effort.
It’s utterly disheartening to write a blog post and put so much time and effort in, only for it to flop. Way worse than an Instagram snap flopping.
So I can totally empathise with the bloggers who’ve given up on their blogs over the past year in favour of the app, and I can also see the temptation to follow suit, even if I’m in the minority by still trying to focus on my blog more than my Instagram growth.
Who else gets several followers a day from random accounts, usually in different countries, who unfollow you, en masse, a few hours or days later?
Spambots get annoying, don’t they? Especially with stupid and irrelevant comments on your photos.
Earlier this year, I posted a photo after a few days away, explaining that there’d been a family bereavement. It was quite a poignant photo of a rose. But there was still a spambot who posted something completely generic and utterly irrelevant on that picture. I can’t remember quite what it was but it’s normally something pretty basic like ‘cool shot *sunglasses emoji*’ which is quite distasteful when somebody’s talking about death, isn’t it?
If I hadn’t have known it was an account controlled by a spambot, I could’ve found it really offensive.
Who wants to come across in that way? Who wants to have such a lack of control over their own account, and ultimately how they’re perceived online, for the sake of gaining a few followers? It’s embarrassing.
So if you’re ever tempted to pay for followers or likes, please remember that something like this could easily happen with your account too. And the person the bot makes an inappropriate comment to might be a lot less forgiving than I was in that particular instance.
“…If you’re trying to cheat your way to the top, you don’t deserve any recognition.”
I’m talking about using bots. I’m talking about buying followers. I’m talking about follow/unfollowing. They’re all shady tactics in my book. And if you’re trying to cheat your way to the top, you don’t deserve any recognition. Frankly, you don’t deserve the respect of other users if you’re not willing to respect them and the rules of the platform.
What irritates me even more these days is that some brands are doing it too. Brands are follow/unfollowing, regardless of whether you follow them back or not. Why on earth would you have any inclination to choose that brand over another if they’re willing to act that way on social media? It reeks of desperation and a lack of respect for their potential customers.
There are a handful of brands who’ve done this to me since I started my account in 2014, and I genuinely remember them all. (Yep, that’s quite sad, I know.) Tourist attractions, shopping centres, skincare brands, blog designers, department stores – they’re all brands I’m far less likely to choose because they’ve been a bit dodgy on social media.
And, I know, it’s only Instagram, so I probably shouldn’t take it to heart. But, why should you respect them if they clearly don’t respect you? It has the potential to look as though they hold their customers in contempt, in a way. So, if any brands are reading this (unlikely), please stop with the shady tactics! It doesn’t help your image in the long-run.
The same goes for bloggers as well, if you’re not willing to support other bloggers on the app. If you’re prepared to follow/unfollow, and if you’re okay with ‘trampling’ over others in the blogosphere to bump up your follower count, why should they support you in return? It doesn’t make you look good. It makes you look terrible and desperate, to be honest. Being kind will surely get you further than acting so unscrupulously to those who you could be supporting instead.
There seem to be two distinct types of users on the app: the careerists and the rest of us. And it’s up to us to ensure that we don’t let the careerists drag us down with their follow/unfollowing, their spammy comments and likes, and their incessant and obsessive need to chase and gain new followers.
Ads, algorithms, and absurd moves in the wrong direction
It feels as if Instagram doesn’t listen to what the users want, especially since Facebook started taking a bigger role in the running of the app. Nobody really wants the algorithmic feed, do they? We all wanted it banished to the history books from the day it was first forced upon us in 2016. Despite it being massively unpopular, Instagram/Facebook hasn’t listened to the users on this one. It obviously has its reasons, like looking bad by making a colossal U-turn, but it still irks plenty of users because we’re moaning about it two years down the line! (Well, I am anyway!)
Ahh, let’s talk about the ads. Do you remember those halcyon days when Instagram had a chronological feed, and there were no ads in there clogging things up? Simpler times, weren’t they?
Now, I know that Facebook’s a business and it needs to make money. I’m not against that. But, it’s a bit of a drastic change for users to accept adverts every five or so posts down their feed, and every few Stories along, when there were no ads at all for years. It seems a tad incongruous and jarring.
And what about IGTV?
Initially, I thought it had potential. I even made a video on there that only about 3% of my followers watched. It’s a pretty poor reception, and I’m not alone in that. Most blog posts or Instagram captions I’ve read from others who’ve tried it are disheartened by the adoption rate from the wider IG community, which makes it pretty pointless even bothering to upload to IGTV!
It doesn’t seem like Instagram really sold it well enough to most of its users, does it? Perhaps it’s the lack of monetisation options on IGTV that you do get on YouTube that puts people off, or maybe it’s the vertical video – but either way, it clearly hasn’t taken off as they’d hoped.
“Most people have an ulterior motive on Instagram, whether we like admitting to it or not. Bloggers are there to raise the profile of their blog. Businesses are there to sell more products. That’s just how it works…”
The ‘like recession’
The lovely Sara Tasker has written about how people are liking fewer photos on Instagram these days. She coined the term ‘like recession’. I happen to think that she’s really right. People are only double-tapping on what they ‘love’, instead of ‘like’.
I’m quite generous with my likes on Instagram, and I always have been. I think it’s nice to support other people, even if it’s in a subtle way such as liking their photo.
In all honesty, you can’t expect people to like your photos if you don’t spread likes around like confetti too. It requires a bit of give as well as take. The less you like other people’s photos, the less likely they are to like yours too. It’s reciprocal at the end of the day.
It does feel, though, like people are becoming increasingly reluctant to like photos. As I said, it’s as though they’re only liking what they truly love on the app, rather than like. (Clue’s in the title and all that.)
Try to forget that slightly competitive element to the app. Support the people who inspire you, who work hard, who’re creative and deserve more encouragement. That’d make Instagram a nicer place for us all to be, wouldn’t it?
Just because a photo doesn’t ‘wow’ you doesn’t mean to say that the person who took it doesn’t deserve a bit of recognition for their effort. (Besides, why are you following someone if you don’t like their photography?)
Most people have an ulterior motive on Instagram, whether we like admitting to it or not. Bloggers are there to raise the profile of their blog. Businesses are there to sell more products. That’s just how it works, and I have no problem with it.
What I do have a problem with, however, is those who are blatantly trying to cheat their way to the top, or those who can’t find the kindness to support others on a similar level of the ‘Instagram hierarchy’ as themselves.
If I like your post, it’s probably because I think it’s a pretty photo. Or it’s because you’re a fellow blogger or small business and I want to support you. There’s little more to it than that.
Like Sara says, it doesn’t cost anything to like someone’s post. Plus it encourages that user more, and it also means that you’ll have prettier photos show up in your feed because the algorithm’ll show you more content like that.
What’s not to like?
Rant over! Despite all of that, I still love the app.
How do you feel about Instagram these days?
Liked this post? You might also enjoy: Are Your Favourite Bloggers Paying For Instagram Followers?, Dealing With Instagram When You’re A Shy & Anxious Person, or maybe even What Photography Means To Me.