Instagram Now Private, Etc...

Some of you probably looked at my Instagram lately and thought, 'Whoa! What happened?' Well, I've been meaning to post something about this for a while, so here goes!

A few weeks ago I was thinking to myself about Instagram, and the endless games Facebook plays with the people trying to use their platforms to make a living. I know that this is intentional. That it is to drive small businesses to buy advertising. I understand their need for revenue. Every business needs it, or no more business. Only, I tried advertising through them and was so disappointed in the poor ROI that I just decided that it was just not a viable option.

I tried understanding their algorithm. There are hundreds of articles out there telling the small business what they need to do to keep relevant with the algorithm. Most all of it is contradictory (post often, but don't post too often, use hashtags, but don't use hashtags, etc), and much of it just doesn't apply to businesses that do not have the wherewithal or the desire to spend time and energy producing content that "Instagram by Facebook" will reward.

The algorithm tests content, showing it only about 5-10% of followers before deciding if it will be interesting enough to show the rest. If I have 9500 followers, but only about 1000 of them are really interested in my work, then the extra followers actually make it harder for my enthusiastic supporters to see my work.

Based on this idea I implemented a couple of changes. First, I changed my account to private so that I could more closely control which accounts could follow me. Second, I set about removing followers that were following more than 1000 other people. This was probably fairly aggressive, but if I left a party attended by a thousand other people, I didn't think I would be missed very much. This dropped my follower count from over 9500 to about 4000. Currently, I am trying to identify the accounts that are actively engaging with my posts either through likes or comments, or both. In a couple of weeks, I estimate that out of about 4000 followers, about 1500 will have actively engaged with my posts. At that time, I will remove the remaining inactive followers.

I'm not fond of this, I think a person with 9000 followers shouldn't have to see falling site traffic and sales every few months as the algorithm changes. That said, I am pleased at the prospect of having a group of followers who are undeniably interested, and I think that even if my Instagram followers fall to 1000, I should be just fine.

'Instagram by Facebook' has taken on the character of a company who sees itself as so big and powerful that the user needs to serve it, tow the line or be left behind.

To that I say, no thank you!