Before I get into the nitty gritty of this, you’re probably still feeling the sting of the harshness of the title of this post. Let me just preface this by saying that as a blogger who started on Instagram, obviously I do love Instagram and use it on a daily basis. However, recently I have noticed a lot of fellow beauty bloggers becoming frustrated with recent changes Instagram has made, myself included. If you have noticed a recent decrease in engagement, feel like your posts go unseen, are having trouble gaining new followers, or are just feeling like you are not progressing with your Instagram in general, keep reading as I tell you why I think Instagram is purposely trying to sabotage bloggers.
A lot of fellow bloggers on Instagram have struggled with something called shadowbanning. In case you haven’t heard of it previously, shadowbanning is when you use certain hashtags on a post, but when you go to click on that hashtag, your post is not visible to any other Instagrams but your own. Essentially, it is called a shadowban because they don’t tell you personally that your post has been banned from certain hashtags; rather, they do it “in the shadows,” so to speak (AKA, they do it behind your back). Ideally, this will prevent spam accounts from getting attention from using hashtags by repeatedly using the same wildly popular hashtags. However, the problem is that it is also affecting us bloggers who genuinely work hard on our posts, just to have no one see them, and to have no idea that it is happening makes matters even worse.
When the non-spam accounts of Instagram gathered in an uproar when we discovered what was happening, this was the response we got:
Honestly, I am not even sure where to begin to point out all of the things that are kind of unacceptable in this response. You do not have the resources available? Really? So where exactly has all that revenue that you have raked in from the millions of ads you have added to our feeds? (Yes, millions – you read that correctly.) Then after that, the rest of the response is essentially telling us all to go screw ourselves (forgive the crudeness) because our creativity should be good enough to attract attention to our brands. Sorry, but when there are so many people trying to fit into the SAME niche where we ALL have good quality, creative content to share, unfortunately that is not enough to attract new people to what we are creating every day.
So, Instagram, what do we have to work with here? Good, quality content that is nearly impossible to get seen by a new audience because of a hashtag issue that you supposedly cannot fix? They claim that their potential solution is ‘improving your content’, but conveniently, if you pay to promote a post, you are nearly guaranteed to have your post reach that new audience that your hashtags will no longer show your post to! Coincidence? I think not. Personally, I think Instagram is using shadowbanning as a way to deter blogger’s growth and force them to pay for their posts to be promoted. I understand Instagram is a business and this is the new way of the world, but claiming that you are working on an issue that you most likely put in place for monetary gain is definitely not okay, in my book.
Last year, Instagram changed its algorithm from most recent posts at the top to… something else. Although Instagram will not release the exact nature of its new algorithm, this new algorithm is is designed to show you the most relevant posts to your personal interests first. They do this most likely based on a combination of multiple factors, such as your interactions with other accounts, how popular the post is, and whether or not it was posted recently. One supposed major factor to this algorithm is how much interaction a post gets in a short amount of time. The more instantaneous interaction a post gets, the more likely it is to appear towards the top of someone’s feed. In theory, this feature would work in order to filter out low quality posts on Instagram that no one interacts with, in order to keep everyone’s feed to quality content that is relevant to their interests.
Personally, I can see the benefits of this new algorithm, ideally. However, there is one thing that kind of interferes with this actually working: the promoted posts I mentioned earlier. Like I said before, around last Christmas, Instagram added TENS OF MILLIONS of ads to everyone’s Instagram feeds. So, basically every time you go to load the next section of your Instagram feed, you will see at least one ad. Although this doesn’t sound like much, when you think about how many of our non-promoted posts that get pushed further down due to the bombardment of ads on our feeds, it really starts to add up. For us as bloggers, this is critical, due to this new algorithm. Unless our posts get instantaneous engagement, we will be pushed even further down our followers’ Instagram feeds, on top of how far down we were already pushed by ads. Hopefully you will begin to see what I have unfortunately realized: Instagram is letting bloggers suffer in order to make a buck.
Is it a personal attack on bloggers and media influencers, per say? Maybe not. However, if you think about it, the more offput we are as bloggers, the more Instagram has to gain. If we do not grow, brands will be less likely to go directly to us for their advertising needs (sponsored posts, reviews, PR, etc.) and they will go through Instagram instead, who has many different forms of ads to supply (promoted posts, Insta story ads, etc). In a sense, bloggers are competing with Instagram to work with brands. Rather than working with us and encouraging our growth, like Youtube does for its users, Instagram is essentially allowing greed to drive its actions. It is a sad reality, because if you think about it, Instagram’s wild popularity is due, in part, to us bloggers and social media influencers who bust our asses producing quality content to draw other users in to use the app more frequently. Rather than working with us, Instagram is working against us.
I sincerely apologize that this blog post is a more negative one, but so many people are curious as to what is going on with Instagram lately, why their accounts are seemingly doing worse and worse, and I genuinely feel that this is the truth, and our community deserves the right to know what is really going on, rather than what Instagram wants us to believe. Although this is mostly speculative, I have found articles online that seem to support my beliefs (which I have not linked due to a lack of time needed, but Google has all the resources you need if you want to do some fact checking). If you do not agree with me, that is totally understandable and I will not hold that against you. This just seems like a reasonable conclusion, as the timing of their new changes and the decrease in engagement happen to coincide, and keep in mind that Instagram is a business, so these kinds of actions are not entirely implausible. Please let me know your thoughts below! Make sure you follow my blog for new updates, and follow my social media (Twitter & Instagram) for flatlays, reviews, makeup news & more. Thanks for reading! Mwah!