Friday, 12 May 2017

Why Instagram Really Isn't Much Fun Anymore #SaturdayShareLinkUp

Why Instagram Really Isn't Much Fun Anymore

Once upon a time there was a social media app where you could share pretty or interesting pictures and talk to other people about their pictures. You could add sparkly heart bokeh filters and funky frames. You could follow people whose pictures you liked and see what they'd just posted whenever you opened up the app. It was exciting, and fresh, and fun.

In case this app doesn't sound familiar to you, you may not have been on Instagram very long (or not at all, in which case this post may not be very interesting to you...) However, IF it's made you sigh and feel all wistful about how Instagram used to be, then it's probably taken you back to a more carefree time when we used to actually enjoy the social media platform.

Those were the days - before algorithms. Before shadowbans. Before the strategic placement of hashtags. Before bots. Before sponsored posts. Before incessant follow/unfollows. In other words, the days when Instagram used to be fun - because I'm sure many of you would agree:

Instagram really isn't much fun anymore, is it...?!

In the last week or so the whole "why the hell is Instagram trying to ruin Instagram for us" came to an ever-more irritating head when I realised exactly what shadowbans were and how they are actually being used to suppress my visibility and that of many other bloggers' who are also trying to work hard to gain a following as well as enjoying the platform. I did a proper test with a blogging colleague to see if what was being said was true, but first, this:

A break in the algorithm?

Around a week ago I went onto Instagram and noticed my feed looked totally different. There were NONE of the usual accounts I see - instead, I saw accounts I used to follow ages and ages ago, or ones I knew I liked but had never seen in my feed before. The feed was fresh, exciting and totally varied.


I checked the accounts and it seemed they were all ones I was following, but they'd not appeared in ages, or never (not since hitting the "follow" button).

Now I don't know about you, but if you're an Instagram fan like me, then I'm sure you can imagine my delight - I went into a total Instagram frenzy, liking and commenting and scrolling and liking and scrolling... Honestly, I haven't had that much fun on a social media platform in ages. (I am FULLY aware that there are many, MANY more fun things in life to get up to than being on social media, but for now I will describe it as fun...!)

MY FEED HAS BEEN THE SAME SMALL GROUP OF ACCOUNTS FOR AGES NOW - SINCE THE ALGORITHMS WERE INTRODUCED LAST YEAR, IN FACT. AND TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH IT IS BORING. YES, I SEE LOTS OF ACCOUNTS I LOVE TO SEE, BUT I ALSO WANT TO SEE MORE OF A VARIETY. 

So I have NO explanation as to what happened, but I also noticed that the posts were very roughly in chronological order. If you're not aware of how the algorithms work, Instagram chooses what posts to show you, and in what order, based on algorithms. Posts that are currently "doing well" will show up nearer the top of your feed, so as you scroll through the posts the times they were posted could go in this order: 5 hours ago, 2 hours ago, 11 minutes ago, 3 hours ago, 7 hours ago, 37 minutes ago, and so on.

In other words, NOT chronological. You don't see the most recent first, then the next most recent, then the next. My feed has been the same small group of accounts for ages now - since the algorithms were introduced last year, in fact. And to tell you the truth it is BORING. Yes, I see lots of accounts I love to see (if I follow you and comment and like your posts, please don't think I am saying your feed is boring!), but I also want to see more of a variety - I am following 1,600 accounts, for goodness sake. Sometimes it feels like I'm only following about 30 (at a push).

So you can see why I was excited - I basically just took full advantage of seeing so many "new" accounts and a variety of posts (images) I was seeing and spent a LONG time on the app.

It didn't however, last... back to normal within a day or so, I can't remember. It was just weird.

Why Instagram's no fun

This is the thing: Instagram had to get savvy in terms of the way it was being used (and abused). It "had" to earn money because of the millions of people now using it: Wikipedia says it has 375 million ACTIVE users. That's a lot of users to make money from, so I get it, I really do.

However, what's been put into place - the many things that have been put into place - are absolutely killing the joy that is looking at pretty pictures. If all it is is a strategic platform for influencers to make money and push their wares and brands to make money and push their wares, can there really be any room for those who want to enjoy it for what it is - a place to share nice pictures?

A few days ago I wrote down all the things that annoy me about Instagram, and they did make me wonder why on earth I even use the damn thing anymore. They were:

  • You don't see very few of the accounts you follow in your feed
  • You often go to follow a beautiful account and then realise you're already following - you've NEVER seen them in your feed
  • How on earth do you work out a way to get them all to show up in your feed (no one seems to know)
  • Why on earth have they started shadowbans for people who are trying to be seen (like me) when there are still accounts that buy and sell likes and followers
  • Why can't Instagram see accounts that do the follow/unfollow thing and suspend them, rather than making US block them
  • Why do you get shadowbanned for repeating hashtags from one post to the next
  • Why do you now get shadowbanned for adding hashtags to the first comment rather than the caption (we did it because we were told hashtags in the caption looked spammy)

And so it goes on.

There are so many things that annoy me (and my fellow bloggers) about Instagram - it seems that every day there is something new and we're saying "Oh god, NOW what...".

We tested the shadowban in the week (if you want to see if you're being affected, try this shadowban checker) - and IF what they say is true, then you really do have to walk on eggshells to stop Instagram making you invisible to those that don't follow you.

So I've not gone into the details of how to get round all the obstacles here/now, but I will start writing a post with the best tips for beating the algorithm, avoiding the shadowban, getting more likes and followers...

Bringing the joy back

...What I CAN'T do, however, is find a way to bring the joy back for you if all of that seems too much to think about and bother with (and to be honest I don't blame you if that's how you feel about it). If you're like me and have to do it as part of your business - blogging or otherwise - then it's unfortunately a necessary evil. Not one person I've spoken to about the nightmare that Instagram is becoming actually LIKES the algorithmn - everyone wants it back the old way.

So who is the algorithmn for? Brands? Super bloggers? It certainly isn't for mid-size bloggers, and it certainly isn't for the average Instagram user, and that's a shame - because THEY are a blogger's and a brand's biggest "customer".

Sort it out, Instagram, for %@?*'s sake.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE WHOLE "IS INSTAGRAM ANY FUN ANYMORE" QUESTION? HAVE YOU PERHAPS ABANDONED (OR THINKING OF ABANDONING IT) IT ALTOGETHER?! DO TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS OR TWEET ME @NOTLAMB!


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Thank you for joining the #SaturdayShareLinkUp! Designed to allow you to share anything you like on ANY topic, it goes live every Friday at 8pm UK time and will stay open for a week. You can share blog posts or Instagram posts, old posts or new posts, and link up as many as you like.

PLEASE be kind and leave a link somewhere on your post, and share your post using the hashtag #SaturdayShareLinkUp - if you tweet your link with the hashtag and tag me in @notlamb I'll even retweet it to my followers for you :)

New random thumbnails!!

After trialling random thumbnails - where the thumbnails change order every time you refresh the page - on Monday's #iwillwearwhatilike link up, I've decided to do it here too... It seems it was a big hit with everyone! See if you don't link up STRAIGHT away, don't fret... You could be in the top line many times to many people even if you link up a day or two later!




Catherine


Linking up to: Brilliant Blog Posts
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39 comments

  1. I too have lost all joy in Instagram Catherine!! I have virtually stopped scrolling my feed altogether, and depend more so on Pinterest for inspiration along with Bloglovin to keep me up to date on the blogs I am interested in. SIGH- It is so sad :(

    - www.inmyjoi.blogspot.com

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    1. Bloglovin is something that I just find as confusing as IG. I've tried to show BL some love but it's just not happening. Any tips to help me re-discover BL?

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  2. I do hope you are sending this to the people in the "know" Catherine. You know...those that actually have some kind of say in the way IG is run. Because so many of these issues are more than irritating--they are ridiculous! I feel like I barely have time to do these things right--let alone figure out this silliness!!
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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  3. I feel the same as you, Catherine! I suddenly saw some accounts I hadn't seen in ages and wondered why all of a sudden. I usually see the same accounts on rotation. Probably a 10th of who I follow! I just don't use it that much anymore, but it's a vicious circle. Oh, and I hate those bloody Bots, too!

    Didn't even know what shadow ban is, but I checked and I have been. The scoundrels!

    Bring back Instagram!

    Kat x

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  4. It's annoying that the goal posts keep shifting - too often change is made in the name of progress when it actually has the opposite effect. The whole follow/unfollow thing drives me nuts. I use an app to track unfollowers but I haven't been very diligent with it over recent months...until today (as if there aren't already enough things to remember!). I'm having a massive cull in the hope that I might see more of what I like and have less crap to scroll through. BTW I checked to see if I'm shadowbanned and apparently I'm not, phew. On the subject of bots, I just read on FB that Instagress and Massplanner have been shut down, so maybe IG is finally cracking down!

    Emma xxx
    www.style-splash.com

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  5. I am so in agreement with you about Instagram being no fun anymore. It is stressful for me because I am afraid if I don't comment or like someone they will be mad at me. It is stressful because I can't tell who really likes my picture or who is just trying to get me to follow them so they can hurry up and unfollow me. I try to just be true to myself and honest with the people I follow. I love beautiful pictures so that is the most enjoyable part of Instagram. But it has become a competitive stomping ground which is not my thing. I am most happy in my little blog corner being silly and creative! Thanks again for another thoughtful post! Peace!

    Cheryl Tucker
    www.northwestmountainliving.com

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  6. It is indeed annoying not to have a chronological order. I miss close friends' posts until month's later!! I hadn't heard of the shadowbanning thing. Urgh. Sometimes I want to give up on all social media!!

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  7. I deleted instagram abought 6 months after Facebook bought it. I figured if I didn't like Facebook I wouldn't care for any changes hey made to instagram. Looks like I may have been right.

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  8. Totally agree, Instagram has become dullllll. I too see very few of the accounts I follow, literally a handful. I feel Instagram has become a place of cookie cutter accounts, a major advertising platform and quite uninspiring. I try to find new accounts to follow all the time as I want real life (not just fashion posts and beauty, I already have lots of that I follow) but its hard, presumably because of the hashtag restrictions? I look forward to reading your post on it Catherine.

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  9. I totally feel you!! I think for me, I just focus on my feed and my "grid" and as long as I'm creating content I'm proud of and can look back in the future and honestly feel like I wasn't producing content just to produce content, then I could be content (lol). You are definitely not alone in feeling this sentiment though. I think we all collectively have a litle but if Instagramitis...


    Jessica || Cubicle Chic
    www.mycubiclechic.com/blog

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  10. I've been unhappy with IG since they switch from the chronological feed to the algorithm and then all of the bots started. I've had to not like some IGer's photos just so that others IGer's would show up in my feed. For a while, the same two or three accounts would be the first photos I would see each time I opened my app. Thank you for the easy to understand explanation. I've checked my posts and it seems that the shadowban is related to hashtags in first comment. The posts from way back before I learned that trick are ok but not recent ones with hashtags in the first comment. I just hope that with the "improvements", IG has figured out how to address the follow/unfollowers and the "like" bots.

    Rena
    www.finewhateverblog.com

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  11. You read more and more about banning. I don t like the fact that great pictures I miss!

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  12. Thanks for that information. I agree Instagram as become more of a chore for me. I have to do it because Brands like it but it is not much fun any more. I have found that the app Boomerang adds a bit more fun. I tested and seemed to be OK at the moment.

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  13. I thought it was just me being fairly new, but it obviously is a minefield! Thanks for the information though. x Jacqui
    www.mummabstylish.com

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  14. Oh I could not agree more Catherine. This is so frustrating. My followers have been growing constantly since I started last October. And now? Stuck. Nada. Even dropping. And this unfollow stuff is just like getting so out of hand...and so is Instagram it seems. Or is it just the whole follower/number-shebang itself??? Connecting with others and working towards a solid base of followers organically should be rewarded not punished.
    I have been thinking the same thing and am going to publish something similar soon will certainly include a link to your great post. Have a wonderful weekend! xo Sabina

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  15. IG was my favourite social media channel and happy place for years. Now it's just dull, boring and one hell of a slog. I've so fallen out of love with Instagram :(

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  16. On one hand I find Instagram frustrating because it seems to have become a place where if you weren't huge a few years ago you are going to have a tough time trying to grow. Unless you give something away every other week or buy followers. On the other hand Instagram is going to do what Instagram is going to do it is their app after all. So I am going to focus on my blog which I own and can control and the places I actually get traffic from (google and pinterest). There are loads of really successful blogs that are duds on Instagram. Unfortunately in our niche brands love bloggers to be huge on Instagram. It is a catch 22.

    Jane
    http://www.chiceverywhere.com

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  17. The thing that drives me craziest about Instagram is the people who follow you only to get you to follow back, then they unfollow you. I really wish Instagram would do something about those people.

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    1. Oh....you are so right!!! I feel the same way and spend more time unfollowing those who have followed only to unfollow me.

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  18. Gosh, its so funny you have written this as over the past few days i have had a few lovely ladies on IG say that they've missed loads of my posts because i don't appear in their feed. I then found the same thing myself today and i get so so frustrated. I miss the timeline in chronological order, i really really do. I feel as a small blogger but someone who constantly updates and takes time on instagram that i get pretty much nowhere with it. Granted my gallery isn't picture perfect with its own running theme as so many are these days, but its me, and thats all i can be. Unfortunately that obviously doesnt work for IG. I actually love the smaller accounts, the daily pics and the everyday woman doing her thing.. they are my favourites to follow, but IG deems them not important enough to show in my feed.. So frustrating!!
    Rant over
    Thanks for highlighting this C, i really couldn't agree more!
    Rx

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    1. OMG Rachel now that you mention it, I haven't seen your feed in ages either! Phht pooey...

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  19. I seriously could not agree more. I hate hate hate the algorithms! I'm just an average user and I'd like to see stuff chronologically! I will actually open the app and start scrolling, see something I want to look closer at then the feed refreshes and I literally never see that post again...it's nowhere in my feed after that. It's happened a few times in the last couple of days. So annoying. #bringtherealinstagramback LOL

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  20. To be honest Catherine I am so lazy (uninterested) in social media that I don't put in very much (read: any) effort in to any of the platforms (I know, I'm bad and should do better).
    I go on the the IG app, have a look, comment, add a photo if I feel like it.... I don't have a schedule or a plan.
    (I KNOW I should....and I have tried but I would much rather spend my time reading blogs and looking at other interesting articles etc)
    However, out of all the social media I used to to love IG the best....I say USED TO because I find it a bit dull at the moment.
    Of course, there are the interesting and beautiful posts to enjoy but they often don't show up in my feed.
    Insta-stories is boring too....zzzzz.
    I'm just not very inspired.
    As someone who has no idea what bots, shadow bans and algorythums are all about (I get the basics but don't really understand the why's and wherefores' and the fake followers... I don't get that at all?!) I can still appreciate how frustrating it must be if you are actively trying to grow and gain exposure.
    I find myself looking at IG less and less....AND I miss seeing posts from people I used to see all of the time.
    Frustrating.
    What is the new, up and coming, latest, trendiest and (more importantly) most FUN social platform to use?
    We need something new and fresh, don't we?
    Times move on.
    A great post Catherine.....I'm going to link up a couple of posts now, so thank you for hosting this linky! :o)
    Sam
    XXX
    Fake Fabulous | Fashion & Style, over 40

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  21. Actually, I'm glad that you wrote this post. I'm gonna be honest with you. Some of the stuff you wrote--I have no effing idea what it is. Bogs? I had to Google the Shadowban and I still can't figure it out!! I
    What I DO know and what annoys the bejesus outta me is the follow/unfollow. I think it is a dirty ploy that bloggers and companies practice and I have absolutely no use for those who do the follow/unfollow.
    What I've also noticed lately is all the "sponsored" IG "ads/pics" from companies. I don't want to see them. Period. Unless I follow I company I like (i.e. like SkinActives--I love their stuff), I don't want to see their photos.
    It would be great for me to build up my blog, but I want to do that through word of mouth or from people enjoying what I have to say. My IG photos suck but are filled with humor. I have a small circle of followers and it's fun. But, yeah. I do notice the fun is being taken away with the follow/unfollow and the unnecessary and annoying ads. I'm glad that you feel the same way. And, in my complete honesty, I re-followed you because the more I read your blog, the more I enjoy your personality. Best, Catherine www.atypical60.com

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  22. Have you seen Debbie's at Fashion Fairy Dust post about shadow banning this week? Here is the link http://www.fashionfairydust.com/white-blazer-graphic-tee/

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  23. As long as they allow follow/unfollow and bots, I don't think they are getting it. Which is strange as they are smart people. You want to earn money, but also protect your product, right?
    Greetje

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  24. this is crazy. I had never heard of this till yesterday, checked my account and I am banned in any hashtag that was in the comments. I do want the fun back, not the filters not perfect so for me instagram is going back to enjoyment and I will focus on another social media for blogging

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  25. Agreed. It's not fun having an app decide what I want to see and what not. Facebook has become "social media non grata" for me for the very same reason. I decide what I want to see, if I don't want to see something, I unfollow. It's not your job bloody app. To be honest, I'm starting to get hugely disenchanted by the whole lot of social media. Still use IG, but meh... maybe a clean out is in order.

    Alex - Funky Jungle

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  26. Oh my goodness! What timing!! I woke up one morning last week and actually contemplated quitting Instagram. I'm so over it. I never see you in my feed Catherine; rather I just you the search feature to catch up with everyone, but that is hard to do. I miss the way it used to be so much.

    ANNNNNNDDDD! I just checked the shadow banner link, and WTF!? A bunch of my posts have been banned. Whatevs. See, this is why we want to quit. Good riddens I swear!!

    Ugh.

    For sure I don't post nearly as much as I used to. I'm luck if it's once a day these days. I just can't be bothered. I do enjoy the Insta Stories though...

    Hmm. Lots to think about. Thank you Catherine!

    Love, Ann Kremb de la Kremb

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  27. I'm going to still use it, but nice to know I wasn't imaging it!!!

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  28. Great post C! Agree with everything you've said. It's feels very much like going into Facebook territory to me, I am not a fan of FB but do love Instagram. Sadly I fear this love of the little squares is slowly dying, shame ;-(

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  29. I have started to regularly go though who I follow and randomly pick accounts to see new ideas. It's the only way I can figure out how to beat the algorithm problem.

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  30. I'm really fed up with Instagram right now. The algorithm sucks. I keep seeing posts from 6 days ago or 3 days ago. It's really ruined my experience as a user. x

    ♥ Carly Susanne ~ A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

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  31. I couldn't agree more Catherine! It's no longer inspirational or even enjoyable and has totally made me rethink my strategy as well as were I look for inspiration.

    Heidi || Wishes & Reality

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  32. Thank you for hosting dear! I'm linking back to you HERE Hope you'll check out my latest Fashion post

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  33. I completely agree with you and have even more thoughts about IG. When you use Instagram for your blog I think you become even more aware of what it takes to grow your following, then you look at what everyone else is doing. intensely curated feeds that are not spur of the moment thoughts whatsoever, stolen photos, feeds full of reposts....I'll stick to doing it the hard way!

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  34. I couldn't agree more! I feel exactly the same, it's rubbish! #brilliantblogposts

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  35. Really interesting! I'm relatively new to instagram and didn't even know about shadowbanning. And it now makes sense I do see the same accounts all the time! #brillblogposts

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