When Instagram first launched users photograph’s were displayed in the Instagram timeline as they were being posted. This meant that all users had a pretty much equal chance of getting discovered. Today, however, it seems that some users may never get anywhere near the home screen while others can now pay to appear in the home stream of targeted users.
I recently converted my personal Instagram account to a business profile so that I could try out their analytics tools (reserved for business accounts). I was hoping that the analytics would give me a clearer sense of what the best times to post are but, almost a month on, I haven’t found that any of the available data has helped me to gain any additional traction over and above my original strategy of doing my best to post the best photos I can on a daily basis.
Through trial and error I’d already figured out what times of the day were best to post at. I’m quite sure that certain hashtags help to increase reach but I can’t prove this theory through the data — only by observation. I’ve also talked to a couple of people with followers ranging from just a few thousand to 20 and 30 thousand users over the last couple of weeks. They’ve consistently told me that they’ve noticed on average 20% less engagement in recent times.
Several other Instagram users have also complained to me recently about a lot of ads appearing in their news feeds. What has been really annoying these users is how irrelevant these adds have been and also how it appears to them that the people they actually follow aren’t being promoted in their newsfeeds anymore. Instead, it appears that Instagram is pushing content at them, that it wants them to see, rather than the content that the users themselves actually want to see.
Why is this happening? I have no idea, however, I suspect that it is a function of Facebook (Instagram’s parent company) trying to figure out how to better monetise the platform. This can’t be an easy thing to achieve without creating an imbalance in how content is shared in a way that favours those that are willing to pay for a leg up or an artificial ‘boost’.
The other big issues that I’ve noticed recently on Instagram is the volume of fake profiles that apparently exist on the platform and the phenomenon of the ‘fake followers’. I wrote about that latter subject here a few weeks ago. Bottom line, for a platform to work efficiently it has to have an engaged population of active, real and recurring users.
Fake accounts or ‘bots’ in the (eco)system aren’t good for anybody because they can usurp the natural organic growth of a platform as well as the users within. Outside of the platform, artificial numbers also make it very difficult for the non-cheaters to get ahead in a world that often rewards a spurious volume of fake attention or ‘engagement’ over quality of honest, genuine and *real* output!
If anyone else is also experiencing any of these issues then it could be very interesting to keep a record of weekly data movements to see if any other obvious patterns emerge that could be plotted over time and then comapred collectively in the future.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve got any other observations that you’d like to share if you’d like to collaboratively track and share any related trends or data. Alternatively you can contact me directly here!