Well, well, well… we made it to Friday! The first week back after the holidays is always a little bit of a challenge. I found myself a bit sluggish and unmotivated, while simultaneously overwhelmed with to-do’s. And the irony is that the more overwhelmed I felt, the less motivated I was. Funny how that happens, right? Luckily it’s a slower month, although I am presently in major planning mode. (Thanks by the way, for all of your comments on the year in review post, I’m so excited about what is in store for this year!!)
But anyway. Today I wanted to talk a little bit about Instagram.
Oh, Instagram. The platform we all love but also love to complain about.
Lately though, there’s been a bit of an invasion. The invasion of the bots.
Not sure what I’m talking about? If you’re getting comments like “very nice!” “cool pic!” and “This is awesome!” there is a very good chance those comments are being posted by an Instagram automation service… or a bot.*
I’ll post a landscape shot while traveling and get “you look beautiful!” Um, okay… are you sure? Or a flat-lay of beauty products and get a comment that says “great outfit!” Ummm…
So, I was feeling a little bit sassy the other night and posed this tweet. My tweet developed quite a little thread (mostly chatter amongst other bloggers). Another blogger chimed in on the conversation, saying that she received “we think you would love our jewelry” from a brand on a sad post about losing her dog. (Yikes). I learned that some of you are blocking accounts that use bots, and others delete any comments left by bots. (I don’t do anything with them… yet.)
*If you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, there is a new trend in social media, where bloggers and brands are hiring bots to like, comment, and follow/unfollow other accounts on their behalf. The thought behind this is that Instagram gives preferential treatment to accounts that are the most engaged… and that it will help your follower growth.
Outfit Details: J.Crew Chateau Parka (love the factory version too) // Sanctuary Sweater // Good American Jeans // AEO Scarf // Hat (love this, this, and this) // Karen Walker Sunglasses // Franco Sarto Booties // Chanel Purse
It’s annoying. And silly. And a waste of everyone’s time. But you know what? If we’re being honest? I blame all of this on Instagram.
Don’t hate the player, hate the game. And in this case, I’m totally hating on the game right now. A friend of mine sent this post and I couldn’t agree with it more. Ashley breaks down exactly what is happening with Instagram and it’s really sad. More or less, Instagram is making it harder and harder for small businesses, bloggers, + brands to grow their audience (and see engagement on their blog posts) with the changes they made to the algorithm and the non-chronological feed. They say that it’s to help us see the content we love the most, but if that is the case then why don’t I ever see my friends’ photos!? I really miss the old Instagram.
I know I’m beating a dead horse. Everyone is annoyed by the new algorithm, except maybe advertisers. My own mom asks me why she isn’t seeing my posts. There are a million posts about the algorithm change. I know. If we’re being honest, I’ve had a difficult time with Instagram from day one. I joined late. I looked at it as a behind-the-scenes to my blog and didn’t focus on image quality or how my “quilt” (those first nine photos) looked. I’d post 5 or 6 times a day and not really think about if that was too much. I posted when I wanted, which wasn’t necessarily when my readers were looking at Instagram. I wasn’t even a little bit strategic about it. And when the algorithm changed, my engagement TANKED.
Over the six months, I got my act together and got really strategic. I now only post once or twice a day. I mostly only post outfits as those are the photos you engage with most. I reply to every comment individually which has helped me to slowly begin to build some fun relationships with my followers. And I use the little bundle of hashtags in the first comment. I even started using Planoly (the best!) to help plan out my feed ahead of time… making sure those first nine photos are cohesive. Doing those things works, and whenever I get asked about how to grow your following on Instagram, that is my advice.
As I started to make changes to how + what I posted, my following started to grow again and my engagement improved. It was really encouraging!
But now there’s all these other things. As I write this, it is 10:30 at night and I just posted an Instagram. The post has been up for nine minutes and has eleven comments. Four are in Arabic and four are most certainly from bots. Oy.
So what can we (and I mean we, mostly to my fellow bloggers) do about this? I think the first thing to do is to talk about it! Two of my best blogging girlfriends text about this stuff constantly and it helps to have a sounding board. And Ashley’s (awesome) post inspired me to talk about it here with you. (Seriously, go read her post.)
Besides that, I don’t really know. We can whine all we want and Instagram won’t change the algorithm – it’s better for their business model, after all. In Ashley’s post, she recommends giving us the option to boost our posts (it’s different from an ad, an ad doesn’t show your post to your existing followers), and I think that would be pretty great. I would get on my soapbox and say “stop using bots, stop buying likes, stop buying followers…” and even out the playing field… but I know that is unrealistic (and I’m not one to tell others how to run their own businesses). I guess it’s just something to think about.
What about you? Do you block spammy commenters? That feels so extreme. (On another note regarding bots + spammers, with my friends if I’m in a rush I often just comment on their feed saying “LOVE!” or with emojis… now I fear it will look as though I’m using a bot!) Oof. So yeah. I’m mad at Instagram. But I’m not really sure there’s anything I can do about it!
Also, per feedback from a few of my girlfriends I am trying to remember to do a better job at showing you what I’m wearing under my coats! It’s this cozy red turtleneck (also available here)! Comfy and under $100.
photography by Lydia Hudgens.