If you’re a social influencer, it’s safe to say that Instagram has made your work 50 times harder. Photo’s aren’t getting seen, which leads to less engagement and the algorithm is showing us the same old ten photos from last week. All in all, it sucks. Sadly, I’m not actually here to tell you things are going to get better, nope, things are not going to go back, in fact things are only going to get tougher.
How do I know this?
Well let’s just say I recently met with some folks who are “Instagram/Facebook pros”. They’re fully savvy on what’s happening and what’s coming up and so I decided to ask a few questions that have been on everyone’s minds.
Shadow Banned – Ok so apparently I need to get something straight – the shadow ban does not exist. In fact I was laughed at for even bringing this up. The “shadow ban” was merely a glitch in the system, which is why everyone was getting different results before being “unbanned”. Obviously Instagram does have certain hashtags which they don’t allow (generally NSFW ones) but if you haven’t been messing around with those it shouldn’t be an issue. If you HAVE been “shadow banned” just keep posting and wait it out, it will be rectified soon enough. There is no special way or time limit, just wait it out.
Why are they messing around with hashtags? Well, from what these tech experts are saying, Instagram want to police their platform a little bit better, but also have a way to categorise photos because more and more people are abusing hashtags with non-relevant pics. I mean how many beauty bloggers are using #vegas_nay and #hudabeauty tags when their pics aren’t relevant.
So what is happening going forwards?
A few years ago Instagram moved over all the images on to Facebook’s data centre. Since being bought out by Facebook, they’re looking at working in one strategic way to automate everything. Gone will be manual inputting of information i.e. irrelevant hashtags and in will come photo recognition. From what I gathered in all the tech talk was that Facebook is already working on getting this software called Lumos AI in place.
Facebook’s Lumos AI technology will make it easier for users to search via image content without the need for remembering the exact text caption used for it. This means that you be able to base your image search on any elements of the picture such as the place where it was shot or the colour of the dress you were wearing in the picture. The AI based search will identify the elements you searched for and bring you the correct results.
I guess from a logical point of view it makes sense. The amount of photos under the hashtag #fblogger (at the time of writing this) is over 5 million. At some point, our photos will be lost and unsearchable and it will be difficult to keep up with things. And what about the photo’s that haven’t been hashtagged? Perhaps that’s why they got rid of the trending aspect on the explore page. Instagram need to think three steps ahead and my guess is that they’re looking to up their game of being a photo app. Perhaps more on par with Pinterest.
So what can you do as a user?
Instagram generally don’t talk to it’s users to give us any advice. It’s so annoying and frustrating but the only thing that they do consistently keep putting out there is that users should focus on their content. On Feb 28 they put out a message to address the hashtag glitch saying the following:
“We understand users have experienced issues with out hashtag search that caused posts to not be surfaced. We are continuously working on improvements to our system with the resources available.
When developing content we recommend focusing on your business objective or goal rather than hashtags. Having a growth strategy that targets the right audience is essential to success on Instagram.
Good content on Instagram is simply good creative. and it follows the same three creative principles you’d apply to any marketing channel:
- Have a distinct visual presence – Include your logo, an iconic brand element, a brand colour or even a product you’re known for to make your content distinct and easily recognisable for the community.
- Be a storyteller – Tell a story that supports your business goal. Whether you want to raise awareness or increase sales of a specific product, make sure the imagery and copy latter up to your main goal.
- Put thought into your creative – Be well crafted to stand out. This doesn’t mean you need to build additional content for Instagram. It just means you need to put as much love and care into the content to inspire as you do in your business.
We truly understand your patience in this matter.
The Instagram team.”
So what can we take from this?
As annoying as it is to hear this, it’s simple fact. Users need to focus on creating the best content that they can put out there. Your imagery and copy need to be matching up. If you’re doing a sponsored post, make sure the product is clearly visible with a matching caption.
Be unique. Create your own ‘Brand’ and style and try not to duplicate other people’s content. Inevitably, content that is similar to other people’s will get downgraded to way lower down in the search. Sadly that means, all those beautiful flatlays are going to be dumped together and put lower down in searches because I can’t imagine Lumos being able to pick out all the little items you’ve laid down so neatly.
Microblogging – I was a little bit worried about copy having to match up with photos because of the rise of microblogging and that being where I wanted to take my Instagram account, but the whole “be a storyteller” thing makes me thing this won’t be a problem. We just have to keep it relevant, I guess.
Despite my guess that hashtags will eventually be phased out, do not stop using them! Keep at it until/IF they’re fully phased out.
As it stands, the aim of the Instagram game is to be automatically searchable or recognisable through your aesthetic.
I’m by no means an Instagram pro but after all this information that was passed on to me, my advice to you all would be sit tight and keep posting consistent and creative content for your business’ and blogs. Definitely don’t give up with it just yet, as it’s just about to get interesting.
I’m going to try to update this post as I get more information, so if anyone has anything further they want me to add in – do get in touch!