Dear Instagram: the algorithm made your platform boring
I just had the epiphany today: I don’t use Instagram much anymore.
Which is saying something, for a person who used the platform obsessively to build multiple successful brands in less than two years. And for a person who’s spent thousands of dollars on Facebook and Instagram ads over that same timeframe.
But I find myself logging on less and less, both for my business accounts and my personal account.
Not because I’m seeing a drop-off in engagement (true for my business and personal accounts).
Not because I saw mediocre results from my Instagram ad spend.
The reason? It’s boring.
Here’s the problem: I follow over 700 Instagrammers through my personal account for a reason: because I want to see what they post.
Is 700 people a lot to keep up with? You bet it is. Before the so-called “smart algorithm,” I knew I needed to open the app multiple times per day to make sure I didn’t miss anything. You know, FOMO, and all that.
Now, Instagram only shows me what it thinks I should see in my feed.
Now, I get a bunch of pictures of my friends’ kids.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, some of the photos are cute, so I usually go ahead and “like” some of them… but that tells Instagram I want to see more, and starts a vicious cycle of boringness and predictability.
Occasionally Instagram will throw in a recent photo from a random person I follow. That’s nice. I like that. Kinda like how things were, before.
Occasionally Instagram will show me a photo from someone I follow, and it even compels me to write a comment on it. And then I feel like a fool, because I realize the post is five days old.
Before, I used Instagram multiple times a day: not necessarily posting — just perusing my feed, catching up on people I followed. Now, I check into the app maybe twice a week. There’s no compelling reason for me now, because my feed is so predictable.
What’s this mean for the social media platform? Fewer engagement for its users, sure. That’s what everyone’s complaining about. But more importantly, it means fewer eyeballs on Instagram’s ads.
Randomness is what made Instagram fun. The unpredictability of people is what made Instagram fun. That need to check in and catch up on the latest (in chronological order) is what made Instagram fun.
The algorithm is a lie and a mistake. I follow people, brands, and companies because I want to stay updated. How can I do that when Instagram lets them fall off my radar?