If you’re in the “industry” and your business is heavily affected by Instagram’s wonderful new algorithm, this article is for you. While I can’t sit here and preach about how to magically get your followers, or even likes up, what I can do is share my experience, because seriously, the Instagram struggle is real and I think it’s time we address the elephant in the room.
After doing my course on Azalea, I realized that not only do a lot of you tune in for my style advice, but you truly value my advice as a creative in this space. My thoughts on certain topics are some of the most read and visited on my site, so as we head into 2018, I’m making a point to address more topics like this. As a leader in the space, I feel it’s important to discuss and share what I see happening in hopes of starting a dialogue with each of you.
Flash back to two, or even one year ago when Instagram was a magical, happy place. Posts were chronologically ordered, likes and comments were authentic and organic – it seems like a lifetime ago now (queue the sappy violin music). We were living in blissful Instagram Neverland. Needless to say, a lot has changed.
First, the algorithm change that shocked a beloved community of creatives. Then, a rampant disease of bots flooded the space because countless contributors voluntarily subjected themselves to buying engagement for lack of confidence that their once loyal following would continue to grow and fear that their social status would change based on their following. Instagram – once a place of innocent sharing – has now become a landscape similar to what Freddie and I talk about as the “Wild Wild West.” All bets are off and it’s every man, woman, child, and brand for themselves. Each of us strategizing to find what works best – or attempting to.
If I’m being completely honest about this, there are times when I get my hopes up and feel like I’m not *stuck* in the dreaded algorithm. It’s *fixed*, I think! I follow my Insights posting recommendations, double check that against Iconosquare and all seems well, a post built for “success”, and I hit publish! Think again. Then comes an off day (or week, or month) where it seems as if Instagram simply chose not to feature my image in any of my followers’ feeds. Likes and followers go silent.
In a time when a lot of value from brands is placed on likes and followers, comments and engagement, it’s hard NOT to get discouraged by this sudden shift. What’s even harder? We can’t control an ounce of what’s happening, and I’ve gotten to a point where I am personally just tired of this conversation about the algorithm. We’re SO much better than this…
So what can we control? It’s first important to gain a grasp on what you should look to Instagram for. While it seems to be vital for our businesses to thrive in the space, how much value is actually being placed on likes and follows? Are we giving power to the thought that followers actually carry a weight and define our social status? I can’t help but observe the shift as people gain followers and loose them. The psychology surrounding our culture’s obsession to have an outward approval by strangers has become more and more fascinating to me by the day. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t see anything wrong with it and I’ve been there, but I just feel as if there should be a larger conversation about digital health practices. It’s something that needs to be handled delicately.
Instagram is essentially an alternate reality, where the majority tends to present the best version of themselves. In turn, millions of people are comparing their behind-the-scenes reel to the alternate (and perfected) reality of strangers. Knowing virtually nothing about the truths of these peoples’ lives. You see? This is why it’s important to understand how much value you are truly going to be placing in an app. And to be completely honest, I write this with the love of my two nieces in my heart. As they grow up to be young women, I want them to know that the value of their self worth and self esteem lay within them, and that it’s not built by likes and followers. If Instagram were to disappear tomorrow, would you be OK? Honestly. Think about that for a minute.
So as we create personal space between what your sense of reality is and what the world of Instagram is, we still have to then address how it’s affecting our businesses. With the knowledge being very public about the shifts at Instagram, are brands also beginning to shift in their perception of what influencers to work with based on their work and craft – rather opposed to their likes and comments and sheer numbers?
It’s a question I took with me into a meeting while in Paris for fashion week. I was meeting with someone who is very well respected in the digital campaign space and heads up some of the largest fashion houses in the world. In many of these types of meetings, people ask me; “So where do you think blogging is going in 3 – 5 years?” – to which my response is something I will save for another article. In prepping for the particular meeting in Paris, I was excited to pick the brain of someone who has her finger on the pulse of what some of the largest fashion houses in the world are looking for. I asked the same question; “From a brand’s perspective where do you see the influencer landscape heading and how much value are brands actually placing on likes and followers?” Her response was music to my ears and reassured much of what I hoped would happen for a very long time.
While a lot of brands will undoubtedly choose someone with a larger engagement, you can and will grow your following authentically if you decide to create beautiful, quality content consistently – and therefore more brands will want to work with you. Good work does not go unnoticed, and if you are a truly passionate content creator and the architect of your dreams, the work you desire will come your way.
I think we all may have gotten a little lost along the way, listening to what we thought the algorithm wanted and basing our every Instagram move on that. But what I’m here to share is my personal approach, and at this point, it’s like good genes. Either you have them or you don’t – you’re either the algorithm’s friend or you’re not. So let’s all stop stressing and start focusing on what really matters: perfecting your craft, sharing with your community no matter what the size, and being proud regardless the likes or comments. And lastly, knowing that your self worth, and your brand’s self worth is far, far away beyond the land of Instagram.