The new Instagram update feels like the final straw

Ever since I first signed up for the app in 2013, Instagram has been my favorite form of social media. From day one, I loved the access it gave me to my favorite celebrities. Being able to learn more intimate things about them, even if it was just knowing what they had for lunch, kept me coming back to the app every day. When my friends and I graduated from high school in 2014 and dispersed around the world, Instagram took on a new meaning for us and became our go-to way of keeping in touch with each other. As we all explored our new cities, we constantly posted photos of what we were seeing, exploring, and eating. It was the next best thing to having us all there together.

It felt like the more time I spent on Instagram, the more I loved it and the more I saw possibilities for different accounts. It felt like every week I had a new concept for an account — Japanese beauty product reviews, book reviews, sharing my writing, etc. Eventually I settled on creating two accounts beside my personal one. These two accounts — a foodie page and a page for my dog — experienced incredible growth. It blew my mind to see how many people I was reaching. For a year or two, my dog’s account was gaining 100 new followers every four days. Her posts would easily hit 400 likes and sometimes hit as high as 1,500.

In 2017, it was common for my dog’s account to reach over 600 likes.
In 2020, my dog’s account usually hits a little over 200 likes per post.

Flash forward to today, my dog has been stuck at 16.4K followers for months. She’s lucky to get over 200 likes. My content hasn’t changed; it’s still just photos of my dog being cute. What’s changed is Instagram’s algorithm and purpose.

Instagram’s algorithm is the reason we no longer see all of our friends’ posts. It’s the reason why our feeds feel inundated with ads and branded posts. In switching to a model made for money making, Instagram stopped showing us photos in a chronological order. Instead, they decided to curate what posts they think we want to see interspersed with ads every 3–4 photos. However, when they say they’re sharing what they think we want to see, what they really mean is pushing branded content.

Instagram head Adam Mosseri shares the reasons behind the updates.

This algorithm shift has had a negative effect on every single account I run from my personal one to my just-for-fun-influencer accounts and my business accounts. By putting the emphasis on branded posts, everyday people plus small name influencers, businesses, and artists are no longer able to reach their followers. One small business’ account I run went from 40 likes in 2018 to 5 likes in 2020 on each post despite a growth in followers of nine times, so don’t let Instagram head Adam Mosserri’s claim that these changes are aimed at helping small businesses fool you.

Even though this change in algorithm irked me to no ends and hurt both my side hustle as an influencer and as a social media manager, I didn’t totally hate Instagram. After all, it was still a fun place to see beautiful photos, track down new spots to visit, and see some of your favorite celebrities.

Instagram replaced the post and notifications tabs with a reels and shopping tab.

But then Instagram added IGTV and Reels and guides and so on. The latest Instagram update is what infuriates me the most though and may be the final straw that turns Instagram into a strictly professional app for me. In case you’ve missed it, long story short is that Instagram replaced the post tab with a Reels tab, the notification tab with a shopping tab, and turned those two very important functions into tiny buttons that aren’t exactly intuitive or easy to find.

By doing this, Instagram has made it clear. They don’t care what their followers want; they want to make cash. They want to keep up with other social media platforms and add whatever seems hot right now. By doing that, Instagram is no longer unique. It feels like it’s lost its mission. The goal of all social media is to get us to have multiple accounts across different platforms and to interact with them all, but why should I have both a TikTok and an Instagram account for short videos? Why should I have an account on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter when they all have stories? By offering the same services or activities, these platforms are watering down the social media industry and actually creating more competition for themselves because now there’s not much that’s “special” to draw us to their platforms. If nothing else, all these features are overwhelming and a lot to handle.

Take it from someone who does social media management for a living and has created two successful pages as an influencer — these updates are not working. Keep Instagram unique and go back to what drew us in.



Reflections from someone with too many opinions / Find me on Twitter and Instagram: @audreyfongfong

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Audrey Fong

Reflections from someone with too many opinions / Find me on Twitter and Instagram: @audreyfongfong