I awoke this morning to the news that Instagram is going to be changing to an algorithm based timeline rather than the current chronological order. What does this mean? Well basically – like their parent social media platform Facebook – the default settings for what you see on your feed will be that you see things Instagram believes you most want to see based on your previous ‘liked’ posts and things that are popular or trending. Is this the death of social media? It kind of feels like it to me.
Twitter has just rolled out an algorithm timeline and I instantly unchecked the default setting in my profile so that I still see updates as they are posted. I also change my Facebook news feed to ‘Most Recent’ as soon as I open it up and I sincerely hope that the option remains in Instagram too.
Now obviously we all have certain people or businesses whose accounts we particularly enjoy following and whose posts we are more likely to give thumbs up/hearts/’react’ to. However I adore scrolling through my Instagram feed and coming across a beautiful picture from an account I don’t necessarily think to click on to. Likewise, I may have liked a whole bunch of say holiday images, from a certain account, but their other photos don’t grab me. Based on my history, Instagram will force the images from the people I’ve previously interacted with upon me and I won’t stumble across some awesome content from others.
In the same manner as Facebook and now Twitter, Instagram will also base your feed on the likelihood that you will like something. Great! I’ll see things based on my interests. Except that my interests are varied. Based on my own content, social media platforms may well decipher that I am indeed a parent and that I am pregnant but hey, guess what? I’m also a huge music fan, a bookworm, I love the theatre and I adore great food. I don’t post photographs of great food because I can neither cook it nor take decent food snaps so I guess that means I won’t want to see other pretty recipes? Wrong!
As a fair to middling blogger who isn’t about to set the world alight but does have a nice loyal following, my social media posts don’t get loads and loads of likes and shares. Now, if anyone cares to change that for me and start sharing everything I write on every platform then please, be my guest! However because I don’t stand much chance of ever trending, my posts are highly unlikely to be shown based on the interests of others, even if they fit those interests. No, algorithms will show popular posts within those interests and that means that smaller bloggers and businesses will further struggle to have their content seen.
How are we supposed to grow our following? Well, if Facebook is anything to go by then it boils down to paying for it. Yup, paying to promote your content. It’s unfair, it’s putting people into a position where they are spending money on top of all the time and effort that goes into their blog or website in the hope of gaining a few extra views. Another option is to engage with ‘Like for Like’ threads whereby everyone who posts their link in a thread visits everyone else who has done so. Again, fine and I’ve come across some great blogs this way, but what about the non bloggers I’m reaching out to? The parents of high needs children, the parents of a baby with silent reflux, the pregnant mums who are struggling? Yes, some of them are also bloggers but many are not and I hate the thought that the very posts which result in mums and dads sending me messages thanking me for showing them that they are not alone, will no longer see what I’m writing.
So, is this the death of social media? Well it feels like a very slippery slope to me. I’m all for promotion, I’m all for targeting people who are more likely to take an interest in my work, however I have built this blog on being open and I want that to continue, I don’t want to have to limit myself to certain topics or key phrases in order to stand a hope in hell of getting views and I certainly don’t want to have to pay a few quid here and there, across multiple platforms, which ends up costing quite a lot, when I don’t even make money from my blog save for a very few relevant sponsored posts!
Not to mention that the clue is in the title, social media should be social. It’s not all about link dumping and computer algorithms, it’s interaction and conversation. If we lose that, we lose the ‘social’ aspect and that is something I have no desire to see.
What do you think about the way in which your news feeds are displayed? Are you a blogger or small business finding it hard to get a decent reach? Let me know in the comments below or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.