The drop in Instagram reach has been a burning topic recently. Accounts that previously received thousands of likes are now in the hundreds, follower numbers are falling. And although it’s by no means happening across the board, it’s clearly affecting many people.
Forget about the numbers, you hear everyone say, but let’s be honest here. If you’ve been used to a certain level of engagement in any aspect of your social life, a reduction in response is bound to make you question yourself. When our likes began to dip and we weren’t getting the spikes we used to see, I wondered about the quality of our posts. But then I started to realise that there were clear positives from the drop in Instagram reach and I wanted to share these with you here.
It’s NOT You
Before I launch into anything though, I want to tell you still rock on Instagram. Seriously believe this! I follow people who post incredible content – images, book reviews, captions – and they’re not getting seen whereas similar accounts are having meteoric rises. And I CANNOT see the difference! As an analytics-freak, I’m really interested in how things work so I’ve done various experiments with hashtags, timings, imagery and none of them offer that magic bullet. Yes you can increase your visibility to a certain extent, but not in any great capacity.
My belief is that the algorithm is unfathomable and untameable. Sometimes you’re in favour, sometimes you’re not. This can be as much to do with wider society and subconscious trends as much as anything else. You’re essentially playing a brilliant, complicated game that’s designed to keep you hooked. There’s a rumour that organic reach will eventually be zeroed so people have to pay to grow. Better to be aware of this now than later down the line.
Embrace Your Individuality
The target-driven structure of Instagram encourages us to compare ourselves with others. Let’s accept this for the moment. But let’s not allow comparison to determine our self-worth. Other accounts may be rocketing, but there could be other factors at work. They may be posting more regularly or sharing more populist content. They may have the support of a powerful collective behind the scenes.
Your high-quality niche book reviews may not garner as much attention as the user who focuses on bestselling YA or classic literature, but it doesn’t mean your posts are of a lesser value. Think about the celebrities and artists you admire. People are drawn to big names, but are these the only ones you want to follow? Our feed is a weird mix of creative, bookish, nature, lifestyle and it definitely doesn’t appeal to everyone. Am I going to change my style for the sake of a few more followers? No flipping way!
Be proud of your unique voice. Being true to yourself is more important than the stats.
Time to Release the Insta Pressure
It’s easy to get sucked into the Instagram machine when it’s going well. The numbers dazzle you and there can immense pressure to create exciting content day after day.
A drop in Instagram reach has had positives for me because it’s released some of this intensity. I love making the creative photos that led to our feature on Instagram, but I wanted to add in more simple book posts too. Similarly I was eager to join more buddy reads because I missed the discussion.
So if the algorithm is bugging you, maybe it’s time to really think about how to make Instagram fit your needs. Here are some questions I’ve considered recently:
- Do I want to make simpler pictures?
- Or do I want to experiment more?
- How often do I want to post?
- Do I want to try another style or channel (lifestyle/travel/fashion/creative/bookstagram)
- Is the platform serving me or am serving it?
- Why am I on Instagram?
- Am I promoting other accounts enough?
- How much time am I spending on the platform? Here’s how you can check the reality if you’re brave enough!
A Chance to Work on other Projects
Have you been putting other projects on hold? I’ve neglected my fiction writing recently. There are 3 finished manuscripts on my laptop and until last month I hadn’t looked at them for ages. Now I’m excited to review them again and send them out to agents. I’d like to think I would have done this regardless but the lull in Instagram has definitely accelerated my enthusiasm.
The motto ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket‘ is key here. If you enjoy book reviewing and photography then why not look at other ways of integrating them into your life? Perhaps go on a photography course, or update your Goodreads account. You may want to take a break to recalibrate and generate new ideas away from social media. This is something I’m planning for the Spring and I really hope I follow through with it.
I registered this website in March 2018 but I was fairly lazy with it until October when it became clear that my Insta account was losing momentum. At this point, I decided to transfer more energy into posting more content and my traffic has almost tripled since then. What I like about blogging is the flexibility. You can do so much more – add widgets, multiple images, categories. And Instagrammers are already equipped for the swap to blogging because they can take great photos and write effectively. Podcasts are another option for content creators – not one I know a lot about at the moment but you can easily find information online.
Blogging isn’t for everyone, but I’ve found that having a website has given me another outlet to share bookish stuff and widen my community. Refreshingly, a blog also isn’t reliant on one source of traffic. There’s another world out there beyond the confines of Instagram and sometimes changing patterns can push you into new exciting territories.
Social Media Exploration
Linked to the above, I’ve been more active on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest over the last six months. It’s been lovely to meet fellow IGers on other platforms as well as new bookish friends. Nothing can replace the Instagram community – it’s still my number one reason for spending time on Bookstagram, but it’s great to see that book love is alive in other places. You also get a different type of interaction that’s not Insta-centric.
I’m not suggesting that you spend all your time online – maybe just make a switch here and there for perspective.
Real Life Instagram Friends
It’s great to hang out online, but even better to meet in reality. If you’ve been on Instagram for a while then it’s likely you’ve made some good friends. Instead of chatting virtually, why not try to meet up in real life? When I started to mull on what I liked most about Instagram it was the community so I really wanted to focus on this aspect this year.
Obviously this comes with the usual warnings about being safe, but taking yourself out of an digital environment into a real one could be the tonic you need. I’ve loved meeting Vanessa from The Simpson Sisters and Laura from The Barrister’s Book Chamber this year and am excited to see @contraryreader and Meg at The Ironbridge Bookshop next month.
Control Your Own Mindset
The crux of what I’m saying is that you are in control of your own mindset when it comes to Instagram. This isn’t about trying to beat the algorithm, it’s about accepting it and diversifying. The platform still continues to beguile, challenge and entertain, but I don’t want it to overwhelm my life. Now that I’ve seen the positives of a drop in Instagram reach, I’m keen to make sure that I concentrate on multiple channels, not just this one.
I’ll leave you with one question. ‘If the numbers weren’t there, why would you spend time on Instagram?‘
Let your answers lead you.
You can read our other bookstagram posts here.