As a content marketing professional, I already knew this was a reality. Millions of creative thinkers and passionate professionals are trying to make their voice heard, but now they have to shout louder than 800 million others on Instagram and 400 million other bloggers.
For those who aren’t sure, influencer marketing is a lot like endorsements. Endorsements use a celebrity to promote a product and many bloggers or Instagrammers have become “internet famous.” Brands use their internet fame to advertise information, products and services. So, similar to Lebron James in Nike, you’re now seeing @SongofStyle in Dior.
Not Having Social Media Has Become Abnormal
The tips and tricks I was first taught in college are still relevant from a legitimacy and relevance standpoint. People and brands with a message need to have a website with regularly updated content (like a blog), and social media accounts to stay relevant with their audience – 80% of Instagram users follow a business. These are things consumers look for when they want to know if they can trust a person or brand. People or brands without social media are perceived as either exclusive, secretive or behind the times. “They don’t have Facebook? That’s odd.”
This used to be called “creeping.” Let’s say you’re interested in a person or a company – you do as much digging as you can on social media to figure them out. Those without social media accounts leave room for the digger’s imagination. “Why don’t they have Facebook? They must have something to hide.” God forbid folks want a little privacy!
The truth is, Facebook was a great way for me to easily stay connected with family and share photos with friends when I was in college or living away from home. Now, I have to have it for work. How can I advise a client on social media communications if I don’t use social media?
Instagram Was The Solution
Instagram became somewhat of a solution to the over-sharing, over advertised annoyances of Facebook…until Facebook bought Instagram, and started placing ads and changing algorithms. For those who don’t know, algorithms are a set of backend rules or guidelines, which change the impact of the content you share and how others see that content on their computer or smart device. Ever notice the option to switch between “top stories” and “most recent” on Facebook?
Instagram is no longer an organic, real-time experience. For those who really want to be heard on this platform, it’s going to require serious resources and probably a good amount of money. Go figure. To be blunt, “great content” no longer matters. You can have beautifully curated photos with engaging captions, perfect hashtags and consistent posts, and might not make a dent. This is largely due to the changes that have been made since Facebook’s acquisition, but also the crazy influx of users on Instagram. This year, Instagram exceeded 800 million users.
Facebook Devalues Instagram’s UX
Instagram first started in 2010. Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion. A year later Instagram introduced ads and added a video feature (like Vine). After Snapchat refused to sell to Facebook (Twitter also refused to sell to Facebook.), they added a Snapchat-like “stories” feature to Instagram in 2016. This was the same year Instagram switched from chronological order to an algorithmic feed – meaning Instagram picks what you see. Due to this new algorithm, 70% of Instagram posts aren’t seen. I think all users wish Instagram would have rejected the $1B offer.
Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter are the top social media platforms used today, however 78% of influencers use Instagram as their primary platform for brand collaborations. It makes sense that Facebook would be the largest platform since it’s basically the OG of social media; one year before YouTube. But wait, what about Myspace?
Could blogging be the better solution? Probably not.
The pros of blogging are (1) YOU control the content, and (2) YOU decide what changes are or aren’t made (unless, of course, Facebook buys your host site). The reason I wouldn’t count on blogging as a solution, is because the complications are the same as social media. First, there are millions of blog posts (like this one) shared every day, and nearly 1 billion blogs worldwide < that’s billion, with a B.
Furthermore, the primary ways these millions of daily blog posts are shared is through Google, email and social media. Google also owns it’s fair-share of social media platforms, ehem…Youtube!
I think it’s FANTASTIC that we can control what photos, videos and stories are shared on our own site. However, like Instagram, blogs have become extremely saturated. Bloggers are not only competing with millions of other creatives with great messages, they’re also battling social media algorithms, an uber-complicated SEO game, and hordes of inbox junk mail.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s not possible, it’s just waaaaaaay harder to grow than it sounds – to be specific, I’m talking about new users and new businesses without a fanbase outside of social media. Nowadays, 51.8% of all internet traffic isn’t even coming from real people…it’s coming from bots. Other social media hacks include Instagram pods and blogger support groups, where members are required to follow and like each other’s content to boost stats and “trick” the algorithm. There are apps you can download that can mass follow, unfollow, like and comment for you (a bot). There’s also apps and sites that allow you to pay for followers. Yep, that’s a thing.
Honesty, Integrity & Authenticity win the race!
Some might call this cheesy, but I believe real engagement and old fashioned hard work are going to pay off in the end. Because our internet-world is so accustomed to email harassment, product plugs, and pop-up ads, our minds can blur it all out. Folks are mindlessly scrolling and attention spans have shortened dramatically.
The best thing you can do is (1) give your audience something worth stopping for and (2) take some time out of your day to read and write real comments. Supporting other businesses and connecting with your audience shows integrity, which will outlast any bot, and authenticity can’t be automated. Keep sharing your life, however and wherever YOU want, not however will grow your following the quickest. By staying true to you, you’re attracting an audience who will stick. These people are more than followers, they are true advocates who will not only support your brand, they will tell others about it, which is the best form of advertising.