Blame Facebook. Blame Bots. Blame Bloggers. Either way Instagram isn't the same anymore and I quit
I was one of the early adopters of Instagram. I joined back in 2011. I remember, because the first image I posted on there was of my newborn daughters tiny feet.
I had joined Instagram on a whim a few weeks earlier after seeing it reviewed in a Web magazine. I liked the idea of a visual social network somewhere I could share my art but also other insights from my life. Previous to that I had been using Deviant Art which was quickly becoming an embarrassment to use and I wanted something fresh. Something I could access from my new iPhone.
It was one of the first places I sold my art and quickly became a cornerstone to my creative life. I was featured on top art accounts. I went viral several times. I became friends with incredible artists I had admired for years. Instagram came first before everything. My blog, my other social media. I even painted in Instagram friendly formats and disrupted my creative time to take lots of photos.... just so my account looked it's best.
Seven years later and here we are. Frazzled, bored and hopeless. Ladies and Gents. We all know it.
Instagram is Dead.
I'll cut straight to the point. Instagram has not been the same since Facebook bought it. I don't know why, I don't care to know why, but as someone who has seen the ebb and flow of Instagram from the first time they purged accounts who bought followers to the invention of shadow bans Instagram has been able to bounce back because the community has been so strong. People really wanted Instagram to work, so they made it work. But then Facebook came along and has slowly ripped away everything users enjoyed and basically, replaced it with utter shite.
It's not the bloggers, it's not follow/unfollow, it's not bot accounts or people buying followers. All of those things have been around from day one. I remember when you could follow unlimited people. Trust me, if anything these problems were worse earlier on when it first started but despite all that it STILL didn't stop Instagram from booming. Instagram was always going to be a huge hit. And it wasn't because of the Kardashians.
What really killed Instagram was taking away the community
I look at my followers now and who I follow and 90% of them are selling things or using Instagram 'seriously'. Why? Because unless you make Instagram a full time gig (and I mean checking it and tweaking hourly, throughout the night too) your posts are never, ever, EVER getting seen. Even by your best friends. The feed has become so screwed that you are more likely to see an advert or a post from 3 days ago from a top blogger then you are from your sister who posted an hour ago. The knock on effect is that normal people, Joanna Smith who just wanted to use Instagram for fun, CAN'T BE BOTHERED anymore. Joanna, a potential customer has gone 'fuck this' and has abandoned their account.
Out of everyone I know only 2 or 3 people have active Instagram accounts. Everyone else has deleted it.
They don't have time to watch every Story or go through the 500 people they follow trying to find what they're looking for. They aren't interested in commenting on every post. They can barely be bothered to like them. Not because they don't care but because they value their time and all they want is a quick fix of entertainment. They couldn't care less about your engagement or click through rate. AND WHY SHOULD THEY?? All the clients, all the customers, all the normal people who made Instagram thrive have been scared off from how much effort is demanded of them.
Instagram does not serve them. It serves itself.
Yet we continue to hope. For a long time there have been long-term fans of Instagram who remember how good it used to be, holding out for the day that the app see's sense and changes its ways. They wait. They persist. They try and find new ways of connecting. They propose community over competition. And it's sweet. I see what they're doing. BUT... it's still just businesses networking with other businesses. They're still grasping for their own content to be liked. To gain new followers. To get comments no matter how forced. To be seen. And where are the customers in all this? I'll tell you. They don't give a damn about community over competition. They're nowhere near all those hashtags, if they use hashtags at all. All they want is to see who they've followed in the easiest way possible. And what have Instagram done? They've made it impossible. Even if I turn on notifications there's a chance I don't see them. How is someone who's just using Instagram for fun supposed to?
It's a sad but inevitable truth. It's time to give up. Maybe, MAYBE if the app changes it's ways I'll return but I can't see that happening.
I secretly wonder if Facebook are doing it on purpose?
So I have 3 options.
1) Take Instagram very seriously and try even harder- I've done this a couple of times. I know how it works. I can grow my account. I know where the best tricks and tips are to be found. But is it worth it? Is it what I want? Can I even be bothered? In a word? No.
2) Stay on Instagram but do it for fun- A very noble effort, but is it even really fun anymore? I know I'm getting a bit bored with the Social Media Manager voice I can't seem to escape... you know that way people talk when they take Instagram very seriously... 'thank-you-so-much-for-commenting-on-my-picture-of-a-bunch-of-flowers. I-too-think-your-picture-of-a-bunch-of-flowers-is-very-pretty. Emoticon 'love heart eyes'. You-got-this-babes!!' YAWWWWWNNNNNN It's so formulaic and predictable. It's very rare to come across someone who actually wants to talk to other people on there anymore. Unless they're in a comment pod of course. The rest of the time it's flawless images and self promotion 24hrs a day.
3) Quit. So I lose my followers. I lose the people I followed (unless I dig them all out and see if they have websites or other ways of following them) but I actually gain a LOT- time mainly. My sanity. I'm forced to move on and find another way to connect with the world. I am no longer distracted by something which is now essentially completely useless. I've had hardly any work or clients come through via Instagram over the past few years and frankly if it's not working hard for me why should I work hard at it? I don't want Instagram to become my full time job and I see more and more talented individuals being sucked into this idea that they need to invest all their energy into taming this beast to succeed. And what happens? They quit what they're gifted at and just start selling Instagram instead.
Is it me or is that very sinister? I've seen so many artists turn to selling courses on how to use Instagram instead of selling art. I even got sucked into it a few years ago. And i'm telling you now... if a service ends up making you quit your passion so you can start selling that service to your followers that's NOT okay. That's brain washing.
So whats going to happen next?
I've said my bit. I'm leaving the account up exactly as it is:
- So curious followers can still find me if they want
- If Instagram improves, I will return
- I know brands and people I follow will continue to use Instagram and if I want to access their content or see their post I will still use Instagram to do that.
I've gutted and deleted my account several times over but this time I am just going to walk away and leave it in my past as a fond but distant memory.
R.I.P. Instagram. You were fun whilst you lasted.