Why my blog is more important to me than Instagram
There was drama over Christmas on Instagram when the feed was changed from scrolling top to bottom to swipe left like you do in Instagram Stories. It lasted about an hour, if that, until normality resumed with the feed returning back to the usual way of scrolling.
Turns out it was a mistake. Something they’d be trialling but hadn’t intended to share with the masses.
During that hour though the users didn’t know that. After all, the company communicates so little with its users, how would they? Over on Twitter there were complaints stacking up with people saying they’d done with the platform once and for all.
In the last week I’ve been posting pictures on Instagram and the engagement on them has tanked. My engagement has been dropping swiftly over the past six months or so but this was a new level of low.
Could it be my pictures? Could it be because I haven’t been active on my main feed (though I’m incredibly active in Stories). Could it be that it’s January and people are decreasing the amount of time they spend online? Or maybe I’ve been muted by lots of followers for their own reasons. All these things are possible.
Or could it be that the algorithm had changed yet again so many people were seeing a collapse in their engagement. (Turns out it wasn’t just me, it was happening to many.) Or maybe Instagram were hoping we’d spend money promoting our posts.
The thing is - we can guess - and the rumour mill is rampant - but no-one actually knows except for Instagram itself.
For a social media platform that promotes communication the communication from themselves is appalling and something we wouldn’t put up with from a retailer or a service provider.
Lack of communication, little respect for how their customers use the app, a history of changing it with no warning, rules you don’t know or that change on a regular basis …you wouldn’t put up with this kind of behaviour from a friend or business partner. But so many of us base our business or marketing around Instagram. Some solely on Instagram.
What the mistake with the feed demonstrated so vividly to us over the Christmas period was that Instagram is not a stable platform to build your entire business on.
It is so risky to build your business on shifting sands.
My blog has been with me in various formats for twelve years. Each time it changes it is because I want it to. It is a place I have complete control, where I can back up my words and pictures, it grows with me and it doesn’t do things on its own accord.
I never left my blog for Instagram like many did in the fashion and beauty niches. I took the decision to change my Instagram to a business account simply because the swipe up function meant I could link easily to my blog. It’s always been about my blog. But I did let Instagram take all of my mental creativity.
I still like being on Instagram. I like creating pictures and forming little paragraphs of narrative. And, oh my goodness, I LOVE Instagram Stories. Plus I enjoy the instant conversations and community over there.
Now, though, it’s no longer in my business strategy to grow my Instagram account. I’m no longer going to spend hours creating a photograph. My creative work and platform building is going to be more focused on other areas. It is going to be on this blog. It is going to be on YouTube (which has its own issues but I’m prepared to work with them for now) and on Patreon.
If you’re frustrated with Instagram then my advice, for what it’s worth, is to create a blog and build outwards from there. Link it to Instagram. Encourage your followers to visit your blog. Give your blog the same aesthetic as your Instagram. Create a Pinterest account and share your posts there. Get on Feedly and Bloglovin’ and read other blogs.
Take the control back.