A little Instagram ramble

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A couple of weeks ago, Instagram announced a new post sharing policy – it was changing from chronological to an algorithm that chose for you “the best posts.” Needless to say, small businesses everywhere were in an uproar. Once again, they claimed, the little guy was being shunned in the name of money making, and what could they do about it?

Opinions seemed divided in this. There was a petition created to plead with Instagram to keep things as they were, and the hashtag KeepInstagramChronological was born. I started to see many angry posts in my feed, and requests for people to sign said petition.

Then, there was the other side of the coin: those who saw these changes as inevitable used powerful arguments. Instagram, they said, was a free platform, and it made sense that those behind it wanted to make money (it’s owned by Facebook, after all, and they weren’t shy about lowering pages engagements a while back, to force you to pay for more exposure). Fair enough. They also claimed that, instead of starting petitions that would lead nowhere, they should take the proactive course and just ask people to turn on notifications in order to know when these businesses posted something new. I started seeing those requests a lot in my feed, too.

denial

Now, in the sake of honesty, I’ll have to admit I more or less relate to the first group of people. I felt angry when I found out about the impending changes, and did share and sign the petition. I didn’t know whether it would do any good, but it doesn’t hurt to try, does it? Like a Spartan, I chose to go down fighting.
As for the advise to ask followers to turn on notifications, exactly how proactive was that? Let’s say you follow 100 people – do you want to hear at least that same amount of pings on your phone every day? I’m already assuming some won’t post daily, and others will, more than once. Wouldn’t it drive you mad in no time and, maybe, even make you angry enough to stop following certain people/businesses? This to me didn’t sound like good advise, so I refrained from asking (not to mention some operating systems not allowing for this function). I don’t know about you, but I’d start having second thoughts every time I posted something, “Is it interesting enough? Will my followers appreciate the notification?”

A couple of days after the initial reaction, I did a little soul-searching to find out the reason behind my anger at this whole thing. Was I being selfish and thinking only about my own personal/business gain? Instagram is a free platform, after all, so who am I to feel bad about them wanting to make more money? Was this change really a bad thing?

To answer honestly, I have to admit I was indeed wary of losing an audience, but not because I have a huge one on IG – in fact, I haven’t gotten around yet to using it as a proper business platform; I do share my work, but I seldom mention the item is for sale, or do pitches. This isn’t to say I’m not thinking about business when I post, but I guess I was so sad after Facebook started capping page engagement that I felt this was just “Facebook 2.0” and there was no point in staying. I like IG, more so than Facebook, I like it that I can ask people what they’re doing now (#widn, or “what I’m doing now”) and get to see their response in real time, I like it that it’s all image-oriented and so much friendlier than Facebook. I would miss seeing all the pretty fibres and knitting that my feed is full of.

Also, I don’t like it when someone else chooses for me, and for the wrong reasons – having an algorithm is just an excuse to push paid engagement forward and make me miss out on what I really want to see. They’re not trying to help me see what’s “more relevant,” they’re just trying to get people to pay to play. I’d rather have them ask small businesses for a small monthly fee than change post chronology, and if they also tried to show me more relevant adverts (less Marks & Spencer, more yarn shops) I might engage with those, and with gusto.

The change was supposed to happen today. Instagram released a statement on Twitter saying they listened to users’ pleas and were postponing the change, and would warn us in advance about what they planned to do in the future.

%22We're listening and we assure you nothing is changing with your feed right no

Does this mean IG is to stay chronological forever? Probably not, but it did show us that speaking out can produce results, and maybe they’ll listen to our reasons and come up with a better way to make money. Like Neo in one of the Matrix films, I am confronted by an Agent Smith saying, “Do you hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability.” I’m just holding my breath and waiting for that inevitable ice bucket down my head… but for now, a respite.

I know not everyone is going to agree with me on this, so what are your thoughts?

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8 responses to “A little Instagram ramble

  1. I am glad you clarified all this for me because I have to admit I glossed over the whole change. Sometimes I just can’t be bothered. But maybe I should.

    • I think yours is the best attitude, really – this sort of issue is just going to make one angry and often for nothing…

  2. I agree, speaking out can make a difference. But as you say, the change is inevitable, so has it made a difference or is not doing it now just a PR exercise and then they’ll sneak it in more quietly later?

    Unfortunately your suggestion of more interesting posts is unlikely to work for the little guy who’s getting started, because they won’t get the attention in the first place.

    I’ve all but left FB because of the increase in ads and because I can’t see posts chronologically and find it useless as a user (not as a business). I think this move will reduce the popularity of Instagram, but I doubt that will be sufficient to bother those who own it. Getting angry is a waste of time and does no good. But its important to be bothered. If we don’t want Instagram to go the way of FB, maybe the thing to do is boycott Instagram – but that will only work if enough people are bothered.

    • Change is always inevitable, but the way (and how) it changes can sometimes be influenced 🙂 If you read Instagram’s tweet, they do say they’ll warn us of what they’ll be doing ahead of time, so I guess a channel of communication has been opened. I think a lot of people also opened accounts on Ello, which maybe generated a fear that a lot of IG users would move out, and that’s something they might want to prevent.

      I didn’t suggest people post interesting material – I was actually acknowledging how hard that notion is, and how worried I might become every time I wanted to post something 🙂 “Will people like it, is it interesting enough?”

      Facebook has a feature that allows you to see posts chronologically – on the left menu, go to News Feed, and click on the drop down arrow; you’ll see an option called “Most Recent.” The problem is, you’ll never see all the posts from everybody you’re friends with. I too dislike FB as a regular user, and wish they’d show more business pages than personal profiles (but that’s me, and everyone’s different).

      My guess is, FB and IG will have their own lifetimes, and when the new thing happens people will just flock there and it starts all over again. Boycotting can be a way, but with so many more personal profiles over business ones, there’s your question back – would enough people be bothered?…

      • Sorry, I didn’t mean to misinterpret your comment on interesting post. I think it’s quite an interesting question, How much posted on Instagram is actually interesting? I would say though your felt work is so beautiful it’s always a joy to see it 🙂

        As for FB’s ‘most recent’ posts – that doesn’t work either. I’ve regularly seen a lack of chronological posting – in fact I would say it never gives you posts that are in chronological order. I’ve even seen a post that was three years old come up right at the top of that feed!

        I agree too, all things have their lifetime. Maybe it’s time for a change anyway, Instagram is very crowded.
        As for personal posters being bothered – well, I think people in general are not good at being bothered, but if they stop being able to find their friends posts easily surely that will put people of just like FB does?

      • I didn’t take offence 😀 But being “interesting” is so hard to gauge – I posted a photo of my new haircut (so nothing to do with work) and it got a lot of engagement, something I never expected! People can be surprising.

        You saw a three-year-old post on your recent ones because someone commented on it recently, making it new to the algorithm 😊

        Instagram is getting more crowded every day, for sure! But I still prefer it over FB because it’s cleaner and easier to browse.
        I too thought that FB was putting people off, but recent statistics show that there’s over a billion users worldwide 😳 That’s one in four!
        Ah well, let’s see when this bubble bursts 😉

      • Yes, it is surprising what people like sometimes.
        I don’t doubt someone had recently commented on that three year post and that pulled it to the top, but that’s my whole point, I don’t want to see what people are commenting on, I want to see what people have recently posted 😦
        I think the demographic of FB lovers has changed and I wonder what a billion users means. Are they actually using it? Or are they jut signed up?

      • It’s a very good question about FB usage – but I don’t doubt a lot of people actually use it, it can be great to keep in touch with friends and family. It can also be a source of trolling and nastiness, but that’s just anyplace that has humans 😳

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