Wow – so much has been going on this week with Facebook in the news and its privacy changes. It’s affected so many bloggers and influencers.
I knew that certain information-sharing apps would be affected (we’re talking Instagram here, and I’m assuming that most of you know that Facebook own Instagram) so that we’d no longer be able to see who’s unfollowed us. I also knew it would also affect rewardStyle’s simple LIKEtoKNOWit* “likes” system.
The latter means that influencers can no longer push sales of products as easily they could with the old LIKEtoKNOWit system, whereby people could sign up to the app, then receive an email every time they hit “Like” on a post with LIKEtoKNOWit details. It’s now done by screenshots only, and this is due to the changes in the Facebook privacy policies.
I’ve long since started becoming indifferent to social media. If you follow me on any of the three main platforms (Insta, Facebook, Twitter) you’ll see that I’ve gone very, very quiet there. I’ve somewhat lost enthusiasm for it and I know I need to do it for the blog and to keep in touch with people who only follow me there, but I was already feeling jaded about it… this latest twist in the Tale (Trial?!) of Social Media doesn’t exactly make me eager to return to any of it on a regular basis. But return I must, and like being away from regular exercise for a long time (I know about that one, too), I know I’ll get back into it eventually.
My prediction about social media
Anyway the point is this: I inadvertently predicted these problems when I wrote the other week that abandoning your blog for social media is a huge mistake. I had no idea at the time that any of this shizzle was going down (was it reported back then or is this the first of it?), and I warned people that to rely on social media is dangerous because you don’t own the platform. And that the platforms could do anything at any time to effectively put a halt to all your hard work of building up a following only to see it come crashing down.
I certainly didn’t think that this would happen so soon.
What I did find out this week was a lot more far-reaching than I initially realised. An article on Business of Fashion (BoF) this week explained that
“third-parties can no longer access follower lists, relationships information, see which posts users have “liked” or receive notifications when media is posted. Analytics companies that provide follower demographics will no longer have access to Instagram data and people can no longer use “bots” to follow accounts or “like” Instagram posts”.
Again, wow – my predictions were eerily accurate. I didn’t think that it would be something that would directly affect influencers’ ability to make money out of Instagram, I thought it would be some sort of changes to policy (like Facebook starting to charge us to use the platform) that would mean people would stop using it as much, and influencers would see massive drops in follower numbers, likes and comments.
But then there’s the bit about users no longer being able to use bots to follow or like accounts, and that is surely a GREAT thing. Although we can’t in theory use platforms like Social Blade to find out who’s buying fake followers anymore (you can still access stats at the moment, but who knows for how long), it’s good to know that these changes effectively support those of us who are working to increase their following organically.
So now more than ever before is the time to make sure you have some other sort of way of keeping in touch with your followers, especially if your business relies on it. Influencers have been left “scrambling” as BoF put it, such is their reliance on Instagram to generate sales. I know that some influencers with massive followings make an absolute mint through LIKEtoKNOWit, and I wouldn’t wish a loss of earnings on anyone (assuming they’ve built that following honestly).
What influencers need to do to counteract the changes
Even James Nord, owner of Fohr, agrees that Instagram is not a platform we own or have control over, and that every influencer needs at least a blog or a mailing list that they own as their main way of keeping in touch with their customers (my choice of word, not his). I say “customers” because if you’re making a ton of money through selling clothes, shoes or any other products to people either directly or through a third party then you are VERY much a business, and businesses that sell goods have customers.
(On a slightly separate point, he also makes a great case for the reason why influencers should stop moaning about the algorithm: to think that Instagram will do anything in OUR interests is delusional. If the algorithm works for them then of COURSE they won’t get rid of it. We can moan all we like, but they’re not ever, ever going to get rid of it just because we, the people that can use the platform for free, prefer chronological posts.)
Hence, for now, I’m still concentrating on the blog. It’s all I’ve really had time for since we put our house on the market (and had an offer and made an offer on another house all in an extremely short space of time) – this post is very late going out because half my time is spent on the phone or filling in forms these days… oh, the paperwork!!
So I urge you to do the same. Don’t abandon your blog or mailing list, make sure you’re using social media as a way to support your main platforms – the ones that you own outright, in other words. Think just how different social media (and blogging in general) is today compared to 8-10 years ago… it’s unrecognisable. Now, in the space of one week it’s totally changed.
Blogs AREN’T dead, I say… long live blogs!
*LIKEtoKNOWit is the Instagram shopping service from rewardStyle, one of the biggest affiliate platforms used by influencers. It enables Instagram users to earn an affiliate income through their Instagram account.