10 Hot Takes About the "New" Instagram

Anyone else feeling a little feisty this morning? Because I am, and it's about to get all sorts of real down here. No hate, just love and a lot of hot takes! 
I hope I'm not the only one annoyed and frustrated by the new Instagram and how it's killing my game. So instead of sulking over the change I did some research and realized a few things. I hope this helps for others who are in my position and, who knows, maybe you'll take something away from this 7am Thursday rant.

1. It's no longer about follower count, it's about engagement:
Because what's the point of having a large following if your engagement is half the size of someone half your size? I feel like for a while there it was all about "how do I grow on Instagram?" or "how do I get more followers?" Now it should be "how can I get the most engagement on this photo?" and "how can I make the algorithm my bitch work for me?" While others in the community know whose followers are fake, brands are starting to take notice too. Smart brands are looking for specific and engaged audiences no longer just big bloggers with a lot of followers.

2. You can't compare yourself to fake bloggers:
There are SO many bloggers out there who have signed up for this "like" agency or this spam follow account. You can go under your "following" tab and see some of the photos bloggers are liking and following and you know they aren't doing that themselves. It's a bot service and it's creating fake numbers for all to see. So while you should never compare yourself to others, definitely don't compare yourself to fake accounts.

3. You CAN stop creepy spam accounts from following you:
Does anyone wake up with 30 new followers and is like "hell yea!" only to see they are all sketchy men who follow 5,000 accounts and you're sure are fake? Same here. I attribute this to the above (bloggers buying fake likes or followers) and these "accounts" are now going through the suggested follow tab and following us all. Some might be ok with it because it counts as a follower but I'm not for it (I'm also not about blocking 50 new people every day). I did a little test run and if you are feeling up for it, take yourself off the "suggested follow" list under people's accounts. I did it for a week and the accounts stopped following me. I went back for two days (as a test) and they came back. You can learn how to switch it off HERE

4. It's time to slide into the DMs:
I saw a huge dip in engagement a couple weeks ago and I was like "WTF is going on?" I was posting vacation content (which always does the best) and I took to my stories to talk it out. I asked my followers if they weren't seeing the photos or seeing them and just not liking them. We started to have a conversation about it and it went DOWN in the DMs (turns out they weren't seeing it). So I started talking with my followers (every single one who reached out) and my engagement started to go back up. As a trial, I held a Q&A, showed off a new haul and reached out when I had more questions. Still replying to everyone who took the time to message me (and took the time to have actual conversations). My engagement continued to go up. 

I took this as Instagram realizing that the people I was talking with were my friends and wanted to see my content. I could be wrong, but I think the algorithm takes into account every single thing you do on the page and Instagram Stories and DM messages. I may not be the best at replying "omg thanks" or "thanks GF" to every comment on my page but you best believe if you reach out via DM, I'm replying. 

5. It's not ALL about timing but it's kind of about timing:
Remember how we all had found the "magic hour" to post? For instance, 9-10 pm ET was gold for bloggers. Well I think (with the new change) none of that matters anymore. Now I kind of just post when I want, and for the most part try to avoid "busy times" on my feed. Think about it: if everyone is posting at 9 pm -- including you -- isn't there a chance you'll get lost in the shuffle? On the other hand, if NO ONE is posting at 2pm but you, isn't it more likely you'll be at the top of the feed? I see it as less competition. I don't know about you but I'm personally on Instagram all the time during the day, not just busy hours. I would assume followers are the same.

6. Bots, fake likes, comment pods and "like" pods are ruining the platform:
Just stop. You think it's helping you but it's not. They are annoying and fake and not real engagement. I laugh sometimes thinking how much people complain about Instagram then do something like this to "beat the system" when in reality it just hurts us all.

7. Content is still king:
It will, no matter the platform or algorithm, remain supreme. Have good content, get good engagement. Try and stand out in the mass of bloggers out there. Be unique! 

8. Hashtags don't work like they used to:
I know there are a lot of talks about shadowbanning and if it's real or not, but either way we can all agree they just don't work like they used to. We need to accept that! I used to search hashtags ALL the time back in the day to find new people. But with the influx of people on the account -- all trying to be seen -- hashtags just don't work like they used to.

9. It's time to start being more "Instant":
There was a time when everyone was posting cell phone photos and mirror selfies. Then we migrated to professional cameras and fancy feeds. But now we're at a crossroads. People don't want to see your staged life anymore. They want to realize you are like them and want to see your instant life. I've migrated back to mirror selfies and they are some of my very best content. Just like we want the old IG back, I think our followers want our old feeds back. (Also no one does a better job at mixing iPhone and professional photos more than Caitlin!)

10. Your business account might be hurting instead of helping:
I switched to a business account and thats when I noticed things took a left turn. At first it helped and then it hurt and then it REALLY hurt. I went back to a personal account (I miss you, analytics) in fear of the "pay to play" Facebook rule and it's been a lot better. Content and likes are still down compared to where I was a year ago but we are starting to slowly climb back up.

10-1000000. Time to stop obsessing over Instagram and put the focus back on your blog:
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received on the blog was back at a blogging conference three years ago. It was: don't put all your eggs in someone else's basket. It clicked with me -- YES! It makes all the sense in the world. Don't put your time, effort and livelihood into a platform that can be gone tomorrow. Only focus on what YOU can CONTROL (aka your blog) and work hard at it. We've seen a pattern of this in the past with Facebook and their pay-to-play messing up people's businesses. Pinterest took away affiliate links and now Instagram with their new algorithm. As a blogger your first and foremost job is to grow your BLOG and remember social views are there to drive traffic back to your BLOG.

So those are my hot takes for the day. Let me know what you think/like/disagree with below!!

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