Why Your Love For Instagram Is Making Me Nervous

April 25, 2018


 

Okay guys, I’m just gonna come out and say it. Your – OUR – love of Instagram is getting a little obsessive, and quite frankly?

It’s making me NERVOUS.

I get it, because I love that gorgeous little visual-eye-candy babe of a platform too.

It’s so pretty, and social, and there’s still good organic (see also: FREE) engagement.

When you post a pic, people LIKE it and it makes you feel all fuzzy inside.

And for that reason, it’s worlds apart from your barren engagement desert of a Facebook business page which is REALLY just no fun at all. AmmmIright?

Here’s the thing, though.

The Instagram obsession has really hit a whole new level in the past few months.

When I jump into Facebook groups and see people looking for social media advice, people answer with Instagram tips as if it’s the ONLY platform that exists.

The terms ‘Instagram’ and ‘social media’ are used interchangeably.

There are more Instagram specialists than social media specialists (and I can absolutely understand why, because EVERYONE wants to know the secret sauce for more Instagram followers and business).

And as a platform, it’s also getting popular – like, really popular.

The number of Instagram users grew from 600 million to 800 million in a year between December 2016 and 2017 and you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s even higher now. EVERYONE is jumping on board.

Hell, even our parents are there now (hi Mum!)

Everyone thinks they’re onto a good thing, and right now, they are.

Sure, there’s been little changes to the algorithm and a few little changes here and there, but for the most part it’s still good bloody times.

And guys? It’s THIS thinking that is making me nervous.

We all have verrrrry short memories. Remember a few short years ago when we were ALL about Facebook? When reach wasn’t restricted, and everyone loved their business page and it was all about how many Facebook likes we could get on our account?

Yeah, well we all know how that ended.

And if you don’t, well here’s the short story:

Facebook got busy, and Facebook is a business, and Facebook needed to make money, and so Facebook decided to restrict reach for business pages, and now Facebook makes LOTS of money by charging businesses for reach.

Which I don’t blame them for.

They are a BUSINESS, not a charity and given the attention that Facebook has, paying for reach is still a VERY GOOD DEAL.*

[*Big note here: I DON’T BELIEVE FACEBOOK IS ALL PAY TO PLAY THESE DAYS. If you know how to build community and get people interested in your content, and if you’re keeping people on the platform and not linking off, there is still very good opportunity on Facebook. I should know. My organic engagement still averages around 1,200 reach for an audience of 3,000. Reaching 1,200 people for free? Yeah, I’m happy with that. Anyway, I digress].

Here’s the clincher, though. INSTAGRAM IS OWNED BY FACEBOOK. They are the same business, dealing with an increasingly busy platform with shareholders that want to make more money from it.

Here’s the clincher, though. INSTAGRAM IS OWNED BY FACEBOOK. They are the same business, dealing with an increasingly busy platform with shareholders that want to make more money from it.

It’s just a matter of TIME before reach for Instagram business pages is significantly reduced.

Hell, it could happen tomorrow.

We’ve already seen shifts in the ‘algorithm’ in which content is no longer seen in a chronological order. It’s now weighted by three factors – popularity, previous interactions and recency. There was talk recently of a RETURN to a chronological newsfeed and everyone jumped for joy but GUYS, THERE’S JUST NO WAY THAT’S HAPPENING.

Instagram’s press release around this was misinterpreted.

They said they would put a little more weight into recency so random posts from five days ago weren’t getting as much juice. A return to a chronological newsfeed is IMPOSSIBLE though, because there are just TOO MANY POSTS and people on the platform now.

Content just CAN’T be seen as and when it’s posted anymore, because there’s just no room for all of it.

So yeah.

With all of that said, I thought that it might be useful to run through a few BIG warnings for all of the Instagram lovers out there.

If you’re all starry-eyed about your fave social media starlet, all I can say is to be careful.

The gravy train has been good, but like all good things, they must come to an end sometime.

And I just don’t want YOU to get burnt when they do.

  1. Warning Message One: STOP broadcasting.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason. Nobody likes that person at a party or networking event who launches into a conversation with a new person they’ve never met and just goes on and on and ON about themselves and how good they are.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

I’ve experienced it before, and it’s the worst. You’re pretending to listen, trying to look interested and frantically searching for an exit all at the same time.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

It’s kinda the same with Instagram – and ALL social media. The difference is, it’s simply no longer tolerated on Facebook.

If you try to sell or your post looks salesly or promotional, you’ll just get zero reach. It’s that simple.

Instagram has until now been a little more forgiving. Promotional messages still get a little reach and engagement. But, as the platform gets more popular and available post inventory in the newsfeed diminishes, it’s not going to be that way for much longer. Lead with value. Treat your followers like your best friends, and look after them by giving them what they want. It’s all about developing a relationship. People want to know what you’re all about. What other people think of you.

Whether you’re the type of person they would want to do business with. You do that by giving more than you take, and you do that by consistently delivering value.

  1. Warning message TWO: Engagement is deceiving.

Ever posted a picture and seen the Insta likes start flowing in. It’s an endorphin hit, right?

‘THEY LIKE ME! THEY LIIIIIKE ME!’, you think with a smug little smile.

Ahhh, yep. And that’s why Instagram is so damn popular.

Here’s the thing, though. Engagement is deceiving.

The problem with Instagram is that it is a BRAND platform.

It’s great for brand awareness, and growing your personal brand, and for getting people to know more about you, and all of that fluffy stuff.

But when it comes to getting people to take action – more than just a quick double tap – it’s tough.

In particular, it’s hard to get people OFF Instagram and into a platform you own – usually your website or email list – in order to further develop a relationship with them.

There’s only ONE little itty bitty opportunity to link out on Instagram and it’s in the bio. You can’t link out in captions, and what this means is that it’s HARD to generate traffic to your site. You can swipe up and head to a website in Stories, but ONLY if your account has over 10,000 people.

So yeah, whilst the engagement is good, Instagram does NOT want you to leave its little party and makes it tough for your followers to do so too.

Which, if you’ve ever listened to anything I’ve ever said, you would know is the WHOLE aim of the game when it comes to social. Get people to connect with you on social, then deliver value and get them the hell OFF social into a platform that you own so that you can sell them.

If you don’t believe me on this, I recommend having a look at your Google Analytics.

In most cases, when I do this for clients, there is FAR more traffic coming from their Facebook account than from Instagram. Why? Because you can LINK OUT.

It’s easy to click a little link and head over to read a blog. Now, this is changing on Facebook too and reach is significantly reduced for posts trying to drive traffic. But it’s STILL a bigger traffic driver.

Getting people to head over to the bio to click a link is just HARDER.

Two tips here.

One – get LinkTree. It allows you to add multiple links in your bio. People still have to click over, BUT they get multiple options. This also allows you to track the number of people that are clicking over to your page.

Two – look into Instagram shoppable tags. THANK YOU 2018. You can now shop directly from Instagram, which hasn’t been great for my hip pocket, but is a huge win for businesses that sell products or services online.

But overall, the word of warning here? Don’t be deceived by Instagram’s engagement. It’s HARD to drive traffic, and ultimately it’s traffic that’s going to impact your bottom line the most.

  1. Word of warning three: It’s not all about hashtags.

Here’s where you’re breakin’ my heart.

Instagram AIN’T all about hashtags. Nup.

In fact, if I had a dollar for the number of people that came to me desperate to ‘fix their hashtag strategy so that they could go onto Instagram mega success’ I’d have… about $163 dollars.

Even though that’s just about enough for a nice dinner and a bottle ‘o red, it makes me sad, because 99% of the time?

Hashtags aren’t the answer.

All the hashtags in the world won’t fix bad branding. Or messaging. Or imagery. Or promoting too much. Or… the million other things that are usually at the root of the problem when it comes to Instagram struggles that actually have nothing to do with Instagram at ALL.

Sure, there’s some things that you can do to reduce the follow unfollow garbage (hint: use more specific hashtags), but the bottom line is that most of the time your potential customers AREN’T FINDING YOU BY TRAWLING THROUGH HASHIES.

The word of warning here is that the Instagram tools are actually the LAST step. If you want to thrive on Instagram, get your strategy sorted first and THEN get help or do courses or find out more about the tools. Don’t OBSESS over the Instagram tools. It’s usually not the problem and you’re going down the wrong rabbit hole.

It’s the voice that makes a singer good, not their mic.

Capiche?

  1. Word of warning four: Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.

This is what makes me most nervous of all.

Instagram, just like any other social media platform, is rented land.

You don’t OWN it. They can, and will, and DO, change the goddamn rules all the time.

Everyone is ALL ABOARD THE INSTAGRAM TRAIN right now, and it’s just not sustainable.

What really makes me skittish is that they are doing so to the detriment of building other social media platforms, and some to the detriment of ANY other marketing at all.

That’s just plain dumb, guys.

What really makes me skittish is that they are doing so to the detriment of building other social media platforms, and some to the detriment of ANY other marketing at all.

That’s just plain dumb, guys.

There’s ONE Instagram feed. ONE. It’s just straight supply and demand. The demand for attention on that feed is growing, and so it’s going to be harder to show up there. You’re gonna need to be AMAZING, or pay. That’s what’s coming.

It’s that simple.

If there is one thing that you take away from this article, I hope it’s that you realise that obsessing over Instagram and ignoring other marketing channels isn’t going to work out well for you.

If you’re at 111 followers and you’re struggling to grow, spending all of your time trying to work out how to get more followers may not be the best use of your time.

My recommendation? Start looking at some of the platforms that AREN’T the flavour of the month.

There are three that are very interesting to me right now.

Firstly, LinkedIn. If your audience is there, it can be a great way to build your brand. It ALSO used to be a great way to drive traffic to your website, but it’s recently started demoting the reach of posts with links and preferring content that keeps people on its platform, too. What I like about it though, is the quality of followers. If your audience is professional, it’s a good place to hang out. It’s a better BRAND platform than Insta in some circumstances.

The other two that I’m eyeing very closely at present are Pinterest and Youtube. The reason why I love the opportunity for these two platforms? They aren’t reliant on a newsfeed, and so the fact that they are busy and crowded really just isn’t so much of an issue.

Both are search engines, and if you are optimizing your content for what people are searching for, there is a very good opportunity to create traction for your brand over a long period of time. One video or post could have legs for YEARS.

Who woulda thought?

It’s not ALL about Instagram, guys. Mark my words on this.

Stop making’ me nervous.

You’re giving this little social media person the jitters.

I care about your business, and I want you to succeed. I COULD just take your money and shout from the rooftops all about how amazeballs Instagram is, but I just don’t think that’s smart right now.

Love it, enjoy it, spend time on it – but don’t obsess, don’t JUST do Insta and don’t ignore other social and marketing channels.

You’ll be thanking me in a year or two.

Did you enjoy this episode?

If so, I would be so grateful if you could take a minute to rate and review on iTunes or Google Podcasts.

 

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