A Sinking Ship

Instagram has changed for the worse. Let’s talk about the change in algorithm first. Whoever is in charge of Instagram has decided to make it harder for people to get noticed and get followers. I used to think that it was just me, I thought I had reached a plateau, but then I started seeing complaints from others as well. They’re either not gaining followers, or worse, they’re losing them. When I first started posting regularly, it was not unusual to gain around 100 followers in every week or so. These days, my growth is at a snail’s pace. And with Instagram upgrading me to a creator account, I could see that my engagement and growth is incredibly low. But that’s not all I see. I now constantly see Instagram offering to promote my posts for a price.

I’m guessing Instagram is now pressuring people to pay in order to promote their posts and hopefully see their follower numbers grow. Maybe I’m naive, but these makes me very suspicious of every post I see on “top,” especially if I keep seeing the same account over and over again. Instead of a social network service, it’s turned into a paid commercial service. Users are either being asked to become paid advertisers or deal with other users who are now probably paid advertisers themselves. Add to that the regular advertising users see on their feed.

Of course people are trying to fight back against this trend, asking followers to save their posts, comment, or share to other users, instead of just liking them. These actions are supposed to increase their visibility and allow them to grow. But I don’t know if this will work in the long run. The platform seem quite intent in preventing organic growth. Not to toot my own horn, but I like to think of myself as a pretty decent artist. And when I see someone with mediocre skills get several hundred likes from their tens of thousands of followers, it’s like an ant staring at a mountain. This person probably either boosted their account somehow or has been paying for promotions, and Instagram likes it that way.

Instagram has also decided to make shopping a major part of the platform. Looking at it, they’ve given the stores of the accounts I actually follow very small real estate compared to corporate brands and online stores on the platform. Shopping and browsing through the actual accounts I care about also requires more clicks to look through. Sifting through the stores Instagram is promoting, I notice that perhaps Facebook and Instagram doesn’t have enough data about me. It’s like stumbling through some stranger’s Pinterest/Etsy page. If they’re trying to simulate caring and actually knowing their user base, they’re failing me. I don’t think Instagram will be taking over as one of my go-to platforms for shopping anytime soon.

So what does this do to me? Well, aside from not growing, nothing really. I imagine this is more frustrating for people who are intent on growing their accounts for visibility, business, or whatever, but if the end goal is business, Instagram is discouraging the influencer route and forcing people to reconsider paying for promoting their accounts. I think they’re also catering to people who are already selling through Instagram, not to new players. It was good to see my account organically grow within a couple of years. Honestly, I felt I had better feedback and more exposure as an artist compared to having my works in physical galleries in Korea. But seeing this current trend, I’m worried that Instagram will soon become the next Facebook.

It’s a good thing that Instagram is currently just images and short videos. If it becomes more like Facebook and becomes a platform for fake stories that trick my dad, then I will move on to the next thing.

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