Are WE The Actual Problem With Instagram?

When it comes to blogging, one thing you’ll hear time and time again, is the heart cry of many a blogger who just can’t understand why their recent Instagram post didn’t do as well as they hoped or expected. The collective wail when we’ve painstakingly spent hours getting just.the.right.shot, edited it and posted it with a pang of hope and a smile on our face….just for it to barely scrape the barrel in terms of our regular likes. If you’re a blogger or influencer, you’ll feel this on an emotional level. I’ve been relieved to hear from Norvina (daughter of ABH) that even they are struggling with Instagram right now – often calling them out on why the platform just isn’t performing like it used to. At least we could take comfort in knowing that everyone is in the same boat, right?

But WHY is this happening? I’ve blamed the algorithm for yonks. “It’s the algorithm’s fault” I tell myself and my friends when they get downbeat about their posts. As a former Head of Social Media, I understand how algorithms work – beyond the top value of things anyway. I understand why Facebook/ Instagram implement them and the actual realities of why they’re needed. It doesn’t make it less frustrating for me as a content creator, but I do understand on a technical level. But it’s started to dawn on me recently…maybe the ACTUAL problem with Instagram ISN’T the algorithm…Maybe it’s…US.

Tough pill to swallow right? But hear me out – I genuinely think we could be the biggest problem – and there’s several reasons why. The first of which isn’t pleasant…but could it be…jealousy? I’ve found jealousy to be rife in blogging. Behind those “Hope you’re okay hun xxx” tweets and support for your work, you’ll find some hidden bitterness. Bitterness that runs whole Whatsapp groups, sees bloggers purposely try and derail each other, drag each other down and throw shade right left and centre. Whether we bitch to our friends in person or are guilty of an indirect tweet or two – who can HONESTLY say they aren’t sometimes bitchy when it comes to other bloggers?

It’s therefore unrealistic to expect this not to spill over into Instagram. The most visual and forefront social platform, no matter what us Twitter lovers say or do. Every single like on Instagram counts, so it’s unrealistic to expect that some of that bitterness or jealousy doesn’t spill over somewhat – and withhold those much precious likes. It could be someone who get a PR package that you’d love to receive but you’re not on the list – and it makes you a bit sad inside…indignant even? “Why should I like ANOTHER picture of THAT PR package? I didn’t get one after all” kinda mentality. Or the bloggers who do it full time and are at the top of their game, getting every collaboration going – so many want to be on that standard of content, they want the pro’s (the invites, the packages, the collabs) but don’t really understand the high level of work and commitment involved. They just see the pro’s, want them for themselves and that little green monster stops your thumb in it’s tracks as you scroll down your Instagram feed…”She doesn’t NEED my like anyway…” we could try and justify to ourselves. And I’m not the only one who thinks this…

Ads.

Ads – oh ads. Why oh why do we not engage with them? It’s like suddenly that blogger who’s Instagram content we LOVE, throws out an ad and we all go collectively “Nope.” And it makes me sad inside. I try and like every single ad I see on my feed – girls and guys gotta pay bills after all right?! But it’s no secret that ad engagement sucks. And I’m sorry, but we can’t blame the algorithm. The fact is that the same amount of people see ads, but for whatever reason they don’t engage. No-one likes being sold to, it’s a retail trend that’s not a secret. It’s why influencer marketing works well – it’s  a more subtle way of reaching an audience. So why as fellow influencers, do WE not recognise this the most? WE should be supporting each other when an ad comes up – but the truth is – we don’t. And this isn’t just me being negative, here’s the proof…

I recently did an ad on Instagram for a brand I really like. I worked hard to ensure the content was a fit for my theme and my audience, because genuinely the product was good and something I wanted to recommend. Regardless of the fact I was being paid for it, I genuinely liked the product. My post had 1,507 impressions. That’s a LOT of people who saw it. How many likes? 189. That works out at 12% of people who saw it, chose to like it. Another ad recently got 1,103 impressions with 123 likes – 11%! Help a sister out! I mean, it’s still great for the brands because their message is getting seen, but when the way Instagram works is by the more likes you get, the more people who see the content – well, withholding a like actually means you’re stopping more people from seeing it…It is our responsibility to support each other! You want that for yourself right, so you NEED to do it for others. Come on guys!

Standards higher than our heels?

Another reason behind the Instagram problem could be that the standard of content these days is SO high. There are some amazing content creators out there, and I mean amazing. I am in awe of people who have ‘made it’ enough to have a photographer with them at all times, capturing that perfect shot. But for many of us, that standard isn’t attainable. Or realistic. The problem is that Instagram has become an income for some amazing people – who firstly: thoroughly deserve it because they ace what they do! I for one am a huge cheerleader of the people who’ve worked hard and made their dreams a reality this way – it’s my dream too and their success inspires me. But can everyday Bob and Julie match this standard? No, probably not. But is the result that unless we see a perfect image – and I mean PERFECT, that we withold our likes? The flat lay that looks pretty but the shadows are a bit iffy on one side, or it’s not quite arranged like a work of art? Or the selfie with the annoying grey background – “nah, I’ll not like that.” Despite how cute the person may look. If we don’t look like we’re on a photo shoot with make-up done by a pro, or our flat lay isn’t a solid 10/10 – does that mean we shouldn’t like the image? The truth is that as consumers we’re bombarded with picture perfect content nowadays – which is great and gives us all something to strive to, but what about while we’re on the journey? Should our pictures really be less successful because we don’t have a white walled home with marble floor and eyeliner flicks that pro would be proud of? Comparison really is the thief of joy.

There are genuinely lots of other reasons behind my musings here: do we only like content in our niche, and so not indulge in looking at other types of content, let alone appreciating it at it’s most basic – a good piece of content? What about the person behind the ‘gram – they might not be our ‘cup of tea’ so we follow them to keep tabs on, but not to support…

Admittedly we won’t like every piece of content that Instagram shows us, and it’s our right as individuals to dislike it. But as fellow content creators, I genuinely do think we need to stop blaming the Instagram algorithym as much and maybe take a little look at ourselves and our own Instagram habits. We can’t judge others for not liking our work, or blame Instagram if we’re guilty of any of the above…

Just a thought.

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