I miss what we used to have. We used to be friends. We had a good thing going. I'd spend time editing a photo with a post description that had been thought out, edited, re-written, edited again, and read over and over to make sure everything was perfect. I'd research hashtags that I knew you'd love, even when they didn't necessarily apply. Today though, you betrayed me, and I'm disappointed.
Love, The Midnight Society
Okay, now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about the hard truth. In 2015, before the lovely algorithm went into effect, we were all at the top of our game. It didn't matter if you were a small business or just someone who took incredible photos, you were seen. Fast forward six months after the algorithm took effect: Things started to get tricky, and the research process began. I can remember spending hours on the phone with my buddy Aaron (Cavity Colors) attempting to figure out a way to beat the algorithm, and strategizing the most effective way to give Instagram money in order to reach our customer's again, which is completely insane when you think about it.
We honestly thought we had beaten it, and for years we followed a structure for every post. The first being a part of a Comment Pod, this part we don't regret admitting. We formed an awesome relationship with a bunch of small businesses like Luella, Ludlow Luna, Garbage Humans, and The Silver Spider Print Shop that we wouldn't trade for anything. The second piece was the post itself: No text in the image, hashtags are followed up in a comment below the actual post, maybe emojis help (another rumor that floated around), and never ever use product tags!
None of it mattered. There was no stopping the vicious, unforgivable algorithm in the end. Let's face it, we're a speck of dust in the grand scheme of things. Instagram's goal is to make money, and they can't very well have any small business with 10K - 5000K Followers have a post get more traction than an ad someone is paying thousands of dollars a week to show to the some 1 Billion users, 200 Million of which use the platform every day. It's vicious, but we accepted it.
Here's what we don't accept, and if you're a small business reading this, I think we can all agree. Earlier today we made a post about our Midnight Slides PizzaBoyzzz Collab being 50% OFF. The photo was straight forward, crisp and pleasing, just like any other photo. Now, mind you we're currently sitting around 30K Followers, and in a full 60 minutes... 6 people engaged with it, and 15 people saw it. Now, for an application and social media tool that a small business uses in order to reach their customers to generate sales in order to continue being a small business, that's shit.
Please, don't take that last bit as me bitching and moaning about a post not doing well, that's not what this is about. There's so many tools small businesses have to utilize to reach customers. Newsletters, Pop Ups, Wholesale Accounts, Brick and Mortar Stores, Guerrilla Style Marketing, Social Engagements, Friends, Family, the list goes on and on of different avenues you have to consider in order to have any form of growth. Social Media is a fantastic tool. Should it be the only way you reach customers? Absolutely not. Should it be just as useful and responsive when you've poured thousands of hours into it and built a following worthy of being shown the content you've created? Yes. Should you always answer your own questions? Definitely.
Let's face it, nothing can be done here. Bigger articles have been written by much larger publications and professional writers, and nothing has been done. When there's that much money flowing into a corporation, the last thing they're thinking about is the small business owner struggling to announce a sale or a new product. So, here we are. We're not going to let the Big Bad Gram keep us down. We love having photoshoots, creating content, planning releases, and engaging with customers (those who actually see us). We keep creating because it makes us happy, not because of how many likes or comments it's going to get. In the meantime, we'll be wistfully remembering the days of Top 8s, mirror pics, and showing our personalities through our MySpace page.