The Algorithm that will make you question your value…

This is a post about my love-hate relationship with Instagram.

I actually joined Instagram back in the day when it first started and was used primarily for photographers and artists of all kinds as a fun, social way to share their work. The app had fun filters that could be applied to photos and could make even the most amateur of photographers’ images look good.

During these years I was more of a Facebook-er who only popped over to Instagram from time to time. I followed only my Facebook friends on Instagram and kept my stuff private. Eventually I grew to love Instagram and learned more about how it worked. This year I made the decision to change my status from private to public as I realized there were so many interesting and cool accounts to be followed.

You like chickens? There’s an Instagram account (or 10) for that! Cute puppies? Yep. Coffee? Oh yeah.

How about Fashion? Interior Design? Human Rights? Yep, there are accounts for them too! The sky’s the limit.

Even the way people interacted on IG was so different from Facebook. There are actual communities of like-minded people who support one another. There are weekly and monthly photo challenges if you wanted to participate. For the most part the people you met there through your phone were just like you. They were there for the same reasons. We weren’t limited to just interacting with long lost friend and family, we are meeting new people.

The platform took off in ways that no one could have foreseen. It became more of a Social Media hub, but still supported artists and photographers. It even birthed a new genre of marketing…they call it “Influencers”.

At first these “Influencers” were mostly celebrities, socialites and athletes who had massive followings. So naturally, where there is popularity there is money to be made. The big companies saw those people and the Instagram platform as a way to promote their wares. These Influencers would simply take a picture of themselves with a product discreetly placed within the frame and talk about how much they loved said product, how they couldn’t live without etc…and the money rolled in on both sides. Most followers of these accounts weren’t even aware that they were being sold too!

Luckily, laws and regulations caught onto this tacit and Instagram was forced to update their policies. The Influencers now had to tell their followers that this kind of post was an #Ad. Transparency and all that….

The biggest difference nowadays is that regular, everyday people are becoming Influencers. And I think that is a very good thing!

Influencers are even classified into different levels of Influence.

I give you the Micro and Macro Influencer.

“Some marketers assume that low-reach (micro) influencers, who have yet to achieve celebrity status, have higher engagement rates because they are more accessible and authentic. Because micro influencers also charge less than macro influencers to create content for brands, they seem to be more cost-effective.

High-reach (macro) influencers, meanwhile, help spread brand awareness to the largest number of consumers, while lending their celebrity cachet to the brands they choose to promote. However, these macro influencers may cost more to work with, and due to their relative celebrity probably have lower engagement rates than micro influencers. Because macro influencers often use talent agents to manage their work, longer negotiation periods and longer content creation cycles can be an issue.” Source: https://www.tapinfluence.com/influencers-micro-macro/

It’s a lot to take in right?

I mean there are regular people on Instagram who have now quit their day jobs to freelance exclusively on IG and make money doing it. Some of them are very, very successful.

Other people with large followings choose to not work with brands and large companies because that is not what they are on the platform for. Some people join IG with the sole purpose of making it big with popularity and money.

Some Influencers are genuinely nice people who believe in what they are selling, others are just assholes who are there only for the glory.

Recently Instagram, for reasons I am not entirely clear on, decided to change things up and update the algorithm thereby making it harder for some accounts to reach followers while yet making some accounts overnight sensations. It is a widely debated topic on Instagram and countless articles have been written on the subject. How to beat the Algorithm? To use hastags or not? To post every day or not? To post in the morning or the evening? No one really knows, yet there are countless accounts out there who are making money by claiming that THEY can help you beat the algorithm. Just sign up now and pay $$$ and they will share all their secrets with YOU!

BEAT THE ALGORITHM!

This brings me to the thing I hate about Instagram. The Algorithm.

Why should a computer, that follows a pre-set program, decide what posts will get seen and what doesn’t? Why should a computer determine if your photo (and caption) is worthy of 765 likes vs 48 likes?

My theory is that Instagram wants to make money off you! They offer a “promote” your post feature where they will ensure that your post will get seen by a hell of a lot more people if you just pay for it. Excuse me? What? We have to pay to get our images shown on a broader level whereas those with large followings (from the pre-algorithm days) don’t because the algorithm likes them already?

This is one such notification that pops up on my feed every other day.

It’s disheartening. It’s demeaning.

I guess I shouldn’t care about how many followers I have. Nor should I care about how many likes are on a post. We should be posting for ourselves. Not what the Algorithm wants. Right?

I personally find Instagram much too restrictive now. I like to be creative and post whatever caught my imagination that particular day. I don’t want to be pigeon-holed into having a an account that has only three feature colours (that’s a RULE I have been told, I’m serious!), or one style (modern only please) or one subject! I am inspired by a lot of subjects- from books, flowers, travel, interior design and art. My feed is going to reflect that.

But at the end of the day, I guess the sad truth is that I really do care (don’t we all want to be appreciated) what others think of my work and what I post. It is disheartening to me when the algorithm takes that away from me therefore stifling my feedback and growth.