Ah, we all remember the good old days… when you opened up the IG app and there were all your friends, their posts in a simple chronological order, ready for you to play with. You just scrolled down, liking away until you reached breakfast time, or yesterday’s coffee break or whenever it was you last looked. And you never missed a thing.
Now we all have a major case of FOMOOP (fear of missing out on posts) because IG introduced the dreaded Algorithm. Try inserting an evil laugh every time you say the word algorithm… mwhahaha … see, it’s sounds right doesn’t it? The Algorithm, whom I imagine to look just like Blofeld from the James Bond movies, plays around with your feed in a high handed fashion, guessing and assuming whose posts you want to see and ruthlessly trashing the rest.
IG has employed other tactics (shadowbanning, anyone?) to deflate likes. As more than two billion people open IG accounts, those with successful feeds had started to attract stratospheric numbers of likes which, to a certain extent had become meaningless. Instagram has the highest levels of engagement of any social media. On Twitter an average post will receive less than 1% engagement, compared to 3% on Instagram. This has made IG the perfect choice for brands to push their products, something which has resulted in a certain ‘blanding’ of a media that used to revel in its idiosyncrasies and individuality.
So, if you’re not a super brand or influencer, why are likes of any interest? Well, I suppose it’s because no-one wants to talk to an empty room. We’re all on IG in order to communicate and that goes both ways. Some are happy to communicate with a small chosen group, others want a lecture theatre full of people to chat with and others a giant stadium, but everyone wants a response of some kind. There is endless debate about the benefits of putting yourself up for judgement on social media. Certainly there are pitfalls and dangers; it’s essential to know what you want to get out of being on IG on a daily basis and to know when to cut it off, if it starts to play with your soul. But for most people, the community you can find outweighs the downsides. Of course, you want your community to chat back to you. And the easiest way to see if your post has hit the spot is being on the receiving end of those lovely little hearts.
I get an engagement rate of around 6% on my posts. Higher than average but nowhere near the 10-15% some IG stars are getting. You can fret endlessly about why people aren’t liking your posts, but I thought I’d consider it from this standpoint. Why don’t I like yours? That might give me a clue about my own engagement…
So, why didn’t I like your post?
- I didn’t see it.
This is the biggest reason I didn’t heart you. Yup, I’m blaming the algorithm. If you don’t post often, if you don’t use the hashtags I’m interested in, if you don’t engage with mine or other people’s posts on a frequent basis, the algorithm will drop you from our feeds. It rewards frequency and consistency.
Posting randomly, no more than a couple of times a week, will get see you getting a very low return in hearts. IG is a business that wants… no, NEEDS … to suck you in. It wants you glued to your phone 24/7. It doesn’t want part-timers and those of you who are will pay the price.
I try to go through the list of people I follow about once a week and catch up with anyone I’ve missed. If I consistently miss a person’s post then they will drop out of my feed completely which I hate, because I follow you for a reason! I usually love to see your posts. But it can’t be a one way street. If you’re not coming to me too on a regular basis, then babes, I’m sorry but we’re over….
- You post too much!
Ok, so there’s a balance. If you’re posting 10 images right after one another, by image 4, I will probably have given up. No matter how fabulous the adventure you’ve just had, I’m unlikely to need to see the paddle board or little Frou-Frou’s end of term performance or the delicious Chateaubriand from 10 slightly different angles. If you want to give a shot by shot update, that’s what the IG gods invented Insta-stories for. Keep your feed clean and beautiful, people …
- You’ve posted about religion or politics.
My personal choice, but I will not engage with politics on Instagram. I’ll obviously acknowledge current affairs (hey guys, there’s an election on today, did you know?) but I will not do party politics, faith or Brexit.
Initially I blamed IG itself. After all, it’s just an app for sharing photos of your shoes. But after a while I decided that it’s not Instagram’s fault. With it’s image/text combination and generous word limit in captions, it is entirely possible to use posts to communicate in a meaningful way. Some ‘grammers microblog in a really touching and effective fashion.
No, I’m afraid it’s our fault. Us, the users. Most of us simply don’t know how to make the most of the platform Instagram offers. Too often, instead of researched, well-reasoned thought, we’re left with someone’s ‘opinion’ (or more accurately, rant). And I’m sick of people’s opinions. In this age of blogging, we’re overwhelmed with ‘opinions’ which are little more than people offloading their own personal brand of anger, insecurity and spite.
It’s a personal choice know, for some people their feed is all about their politics or faith. And I follow some feminist writers and campaign groups that others might not wish to engage with. It’s a true case of … each to their own.
- Your picture is boring.
Oooo, harsh but true. It is, after all, a picture sharing app and if we’re going to do it, we should perhaps make the tiniest of efforts to get an image that’s going to entertain or intrigue our followers. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about people’s images being ‘good’. I’ve yawned my way through enough brilliantly photographed posts of beautiful girls twirling around London, majestic mountains and people holding bouquets of flowers in front of pretty walls (OK, OK so I’ve posted some myself…!). The most engaging image is something that you know will resonate with your followers. If it’s a blurry pic, but of puppy Snoopadoop minutes after he’s been born, when we’ve followed your ‘getting a puppy’ journey for 3 months, then we’ll be thrilled! Having said that, the world of the ‘scroller’ is cruel and dismissive; if your image doesn’t immediately engage us, then I’m afraid we’re already onto the next one.
- You don’t like mine.
It’s not that it’s all ‘me, me, me’ but in some ways, it kind of is. Why would I keep asking someone out for coffee if they always say no? Why would I keep calling if their phone is always off? Why would I keep liking someone’s post if they never, ever like mine back? They clearly aren’t interested.
Now, if you’re Beyonce reading this, then I forgive you because you have quite a few followers. There are obviously some big feeds that you follow to be entertained by and never expect any interaction with. But for everyone else, it’s a two way street. It takes less than a second to heart someone’s post and so, if you never do, you’re sending them a really clear message.
I know some people have a different approach to likes, treating them as golden kisses, to be dolled out carefully, maybe one or two a week. To those people I say – GET OVER YOURSELVES. It’s an emojii, for goodness sake, stop being so flipping stingy. To be really honest, I worry about people who can’t even show virtual appreciation. When was affection ever a bad thing?
Phew, so that’s why I didn’t like your posts. What stops you liking people’s posts, are there particular things that turn you off? But maybe don’t tell me why you don’t like mine …after all, ignorance is bliss!