This is something I’ve been meaning to write for quite some time. With all the changes Instagram has been implementing recently, I wanted to provide some constructive criticism, but also point out the positive aspects as well, so we don’t get bogged down by the negatives. I’ll also be posting an abridged version to Instagram’s App review section, in the hope that they might take some of this feedback into consideration (fingers crossed 🤞). Alrighty! Let’s dive right in! I’ll start with the woes and finish up with the pros so we can end on a relatively high note 💕
First, and foremost, my primary criticism is the algorithm (surprise!). From what I understand, and please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, Instagram implemented the algorithm on the basis that it (the algorithm) knows who each of us would like to see on our Insta feeds based on our interactions (likes, comments, whatever) with those particular accounts. There are several issues I have with this.
- It doesn’t work (at least not for me). Plain and simple. The accounts I interact with the most don’t even show up on my feed with the algorithm. I have to search for them so that I can like and comment on their photos. Which. Completely. Defeats. The. Purpose. Of. The. Algorithm.
- With the algorithm (and devastating loss of the chronological order 😭), photos sometimes show up HOURS AFTER THEY WERE POSTED. And I’m talkin’ 20+ hours. This is both a bummer and a detriment, because we end up missing out on flash deals, sales, and giveaways hosted by the accounts we follow. These are missed opportunities not just for us as individuals, but also for the businesses/bloggers/organizations/companies/etc. that are hosting these sales. (Yes, we can turn on their notifications – but then what’s the point of the algorithm if we end up having to do that anyway?).
- Besides the lateness factor, the algorithm also causes me to completely miss photos from people I follow. Some photos will show up on my feed and then days later, I’ll go to their page and realize that I missed a bunch of photos in between the ones I was shown through the algorithm.
- I (and pretty much everyone else I know on Instagram) have experienced a severe decrease in likes and followers as a result of the algorithm. I know, “wah, wah, someone call the wambulance, amiright?” Wrong! I’m not talking about a few losses here and there – I’m talking hundreds. Here are some examples for you:
Full #Shelfie photo pre-algorithm: 743 likes
Full #Shelfie photo post-algorithm: 255 likes
From-Above photo pre-algorithm: anywhere from 200-1,696 likes, depending on content
From-Above photo post-algorithm: anywhere from 150-550 likes, depending on content
Follower growth pre-algorithm: 2,000 followers gained in 10 months (Account created: 1/1/16; 2,000 followers as of 10/3/16)
Follower growth post-algorithm: 775 followers gained in roughly 9 months (2,000 followers as of 10/3/16; 2,775 followers as of 7/1/17)
Besides being a major bummer, the decreased follower growth rate also makes it harder for us to be chosen as representatives for the organizations and companies we follow, because most of them, of course, want reps with large follower counts so they can reach a larger audience. Which totally makes sense for their businesses.
This is by no means a new critique from Instagram users. The algorithm is incredibly limiting for myself and the accounts that I follow. After all, I’m following these accounts for a reason. I want to see all their photos when they post them – not just the ones Instagram thinks I’m interested in seeing.
Okay, moving on from the algorithm business! Next up – notifications! What about them? They keep getting sporadically erased. At first, they only disappeared whenever I entered my Direct Messages tab. Inconvenient and irksome, but it was “fine” as long as I stayed out of my DM’s until I got through all my notifications. That’s no longer the case. Now they’re erased all willy-nilly and there’s no longer any point in having them on, because they disappear before they have the chance to serve their purpose.
And as a side-note to general notifications – when I get a DM from someone who I’m not following, I don’t get a DM notification. Which means, I don’t see that I have a “message request” from that person until I either choose to go into my DMs to send a message or until I get a message notification from someone else who I am following. This often means that whoever sent me a message request is probably waiting longer than they expected for my response.
The feed also keeps moving whenever I exit the app (no matter how briefly). It would be nice, but not necessarily necessary, if I could pause the feed mid-browse, view and/or answer a text (or whatever), and then return to the feed where I left off. At least when the feed moved back in the good ‘ol days, while we still had chronological order, we could find where we left off, because- well, everything was in order. Now, with the algorithm, if I leave the app and go back ten seconds later, the entire feed refreshes and I miss out on the photos that I didn’t get a chance to see.
Moving on – Instagram doesn’t allow for saving a slideshow post for some reason. When crafting a post, we can save regular posts in advance, but not the slideshow type. Having a “Save” option for all post types would be beneficial.
Also, it’d be great if we could link more than one website in our bios. A lot of us bloggers have side “businesses” – an etsy shop, designs on Redbubble, Society6, etc. and it would be nice to have direct links to both our home websites as well as our shop sites so that our followers have the ease of accessing either one with just one click.
The Instagram updates of late have been all “bug fixes and performance improvement” and Instagram Story stickers and filters, which are all fine (…I guess…), but if you feel so inclined to take a gander at the Reviews section of the Instagram App you’ll see that the algorithm critique and the plea for the return of the chronological feed or at least a chronological option (if not the other ones I pointed out) is incredibly common. Like, almost every day. It’s pretty clear, at least from this side of the screen, that a chronological option is important to Insta users and is something we still feel very strongly about.
Okay! Whew! I tried to keep my sarcasm and cynicism on low for the Woes – did it work? Wait, no, don’t answer that. Let’s move on to some of the more positive aspects of Instagram, shall we?
Although I don’t take full advantage of the Instagram Stories, I do think it’s a cool feature that can be used to communicate with our followers and fellow Instagammers on a different, potentially more constant, level. (But! This does not and cannot make up for the lack of chronological order.)
The photo swipe and slideshow option is a great new feature (well, “new” as of several months ago) that allows users to fit more photo content into a single post.
like love that we can now reply directly to comments on photos! This is WAY more convenient than typing out each person’s username when responding to their comments. Manually typing out names often took forever and increased the likelihood of typos.
The option to save and group posts/photos is great, too! I use this feature in particular to group all the monthly photo challenges organized by the accounts I follow and also to group fan art by their fandoms 💕
And, as cyber bullying and harassment seem to, unfortunately, be an ever-present issue on social media, Instagram’s new “hide offensive comments” tool may be incredibly helpful to users. (I’m not sure if this is already available for everyone or if it’s yet to be rolled out, but I saw the info in an article a few days ago).
Well, that’s all, folks! I can only hope that Instagram takes some of these (and other users’ comments and feedback) into consideration.