I'm really fed up with you, Instagram. And this coming from a devoted user. I have a lot of friends that I met through the app. I literally referred to them as my Instagram friends. I have had a photos I took with my camera phone printed and shown in a real, live gallery show. I have been creatively inspired by using Instagram. All because of a little app. And now, I roll my eyes at you, Instagram. Where I used to turn to Instagram as a micro-blogging platform and where I could interact with people in a way that I felt was more connected than on Facebook, I now feel like my experience has completely changed.
Instagram changed the chronological feed to one based on an algorithm. There seemed to much ado about these changes but I gave it shot. I wanted to be okay with it. I didn't want Instagram to turn into Facebook. I use them for different reasons. I loved Instagram for not being Facebook. Now that the algorithm has kicked in - I don't know what I'm missing. I follow strangers that are amazing photographers, friends that are amazing photographers, bloggers and family. And I just don't know what I am not missing. I wouldn't mind missing some of those photos from a stranger but I do want to catch those of my friends and family. Obviously, I missed posts before the change since it was chronological but I just really don't like having what I see picked for me. I get enough of that with Facebook.
And here's my next big beef. The ads. Oh, the ads. Instagram rolled out ads about a year ago for me. I didn't see them often and when I did they seemed to not stick out from the rest of my feed. Let me be clear, I know there are many sponsored posts on Instagram from individuals that I follow. I follow a fair number of businesses too. Those posts have never really bothered me. In fact, some of the photos I've seen highlighting products have been the most creative when they were taken by someone that I follow. With the latest update on Instagram, ads are now appearing for all users (not just Facebook users). And for me, they've definitely increased in frequency.
Ads are a part of our social media experience. With Facebook, it seems to work. It fits right in and I can scroll right on by without hesitation. Most of the ads stick to the side but in either case, it was never a big deal. Bloggers (myself included) have written sponsored posts. But, authenticity is essential - I personally won't write for companies or products that I don't like. I appreciate reading about one person's experience with a product, with the understanding they are compensated.
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Over the past several weeks, the ads on Instagram have proven to be overwhelmingly annoying. I see my first ad after the 4th or 5th picture and then another after another 5-10 pictures. The ads stick out with their glossy looks and are often irrelevant to me. I've tried altering my preferences and often noted when ads are not relevant to me but it hasn't improved. The video ads are especially annoying. I don't go to Instagram to browse videos. Instagram has changed my entire experience with the app and I'm left with a bad taste in my mouth.
Where I once found meaningful interaction with other users, I'm now feeling like a number and stuck with whatever the algorithm deems appropriate for me to see rather than what I choose to see. If those ads fit into the rest of my feed with either beautiful photos or random and instant shots, I don't know that I'd be so quick to complain. In fact, bloggers have been using Instagram for years to promote and advertise and it doesn't bother me because it is seamless (just like Instagram promised in its' advertising). But it's just not happening. Advertising in such a small platform - it's got to flow and not stick out like a billboard on the corner of my street.
I've been a Snapchat user for a couple of years now and with respect to ads, it has found a method to keep its advertising unobtrusive and even entertaining, at least so far. I love that I can choose what to browse on their channels. I can swipe easily past what doesn't appeal to me, letting me choose my experience. Snapchat uses videos and photos creatively and effectively - and in a vertical format. Recently, Ingrid Michaelson released, a music video for her new single, Hell No, exclusively on the I Heart Radio channel through Snapchat. That was an amazing use of an app to deliver a "product" to a user, making it fun, relevant and exclusive (at least at first). Snapchat has found a way that is entertaining to deliver it's sponsored messages.
We're all getting ads thrown at us but making it an enjoyable experience will make all the difference. Instagram is slowly turning into Facebook 2.o and that's something I just don't need or want. But, I haven't given up on Instagram yet. I hope that users Instagram will listen its users and adapt.
Has your Instagram experience changed for better or worse?