Oh, hi Denny!
I feel a bit weird writing this, because I’m not a writer, and for the most part lack any technical writing ability. But, I do have some things to say, so here we go.
Why Instagram is Balls: A Monologue.
I’m going to start by saying I used to love Instagram. It was a fun platform where you could share photos of what you were doing, what you are eating, and what you’re creating! What could possibly go wrong? Nothing! WRONG. At first, everyone was enjoying it, and my little business Kodiak Milly gained 14k followers of people who liked what I was making! Score!
Well, people were enjoying it too much I guess, so Mark Zuckerberg bought the platform and started to slowly turn it into Facebook (which, I don’t know about you, but I only go on to read articles and news, no, I don’t care about your baby photos). And by turning it into Facebook I mean that they decided to choose for users what they could see. Let’s make one thing clear, Zuck, people don’t like being told what to see. Ya, ya I know with advertising in our face 90% of the time we’re always being told what to see, but when something starts off great (no commercials!) and then you add commercials, and then you remove what people want to see in-between the commercials people get mad.
I started getting mad around Fall 2016 (at Instagram, to be clear, I’m always mad) when I noticed an incredibly sharp turn in my Instagram following and interactions. I don’t know why everyone else took so long to feel the pinch, but I’ve been hearing from tons of artists and small makers that it’s had a huge impact on them. When I used to gain 100 followers a week in 2016, I have since lost 300 followers (and gained 0) since the dreaded algorithm came to pass (that’s a LOTR expression, just to make it clear I’m a dork).
So people are losing their minds at this algorithm because they’re still working hard, creating art, posting beautiful photography, being an Instagram model but they’re getting nowhere. And no one is seeing their posts. Instead of listening to users saying on repeat, “BRING BACK CHRONOLOGICAL” they add garbage additions to the app like “Stories” (some people like these, but I find them super annoying) like how Facebook added stories and no one uses those. Facebook and instagram, you don’t need to be Snapchat, no one asked for that, stop trying to eat everyone else’s lunch. They also added a bunch of filters, a function in stories where you can make just text posts, a weird zoom thing, multi-image posts (that one was ok).
Instagram doesn’t care, literally the only thing they care about is the almighty dollar.
So we all agree that we’ve had enough of Instagram, but there aren’t many apps to try that have the same features that made Instagram great, at first.
I tried Tumblr, and it turns out they do not like small creators on there that are posting things they’re selling, even if they’re small, even if they’re posting other stuff, too. So that didn’t work.
Then I tried imgur, but I found it really confusing, tbh. And it was mostly weird memes and kind of pervy things from the dark corners of the internet. I think the demographic for imgur is not my audience.
I’m on Pinterest, but it also feels like an app that’s gone in the toilet. It used to be so good, but now it seems like there’s a lot of stuff in my feed I’m not interested in at all and I get bored really quickly. I’ve also posted ads on Pinterest, I haven’t seen a huge return on them, and I think their audience specifications when placing ads is confusing at best.
Other apps I’ve read about that were offered as alternatives: Twitter (actually hate Twitter and didn’t want to try it as an Instagram alternative), Flickr (seems really outdated, or is it just me?), and then there were numerous photo editing apps I read about, but nothing I could find that was for sharing that hadn’t already gone out of business.
So in my over a year of reading every article there’s been about the Instagram algorithm, and how to work within it’s bizarre rules, as well as taking a few of those super dumb, time wasting webinars about how to grow your instagram I can safely say you can’t win against the algorithm.
You really really really can’t, until they change it, which it doesn’t seem like they’re going to. No amount of the right hashtags, the most beautiful photo, the constant chatter on your posts will get your numbers of your followers seeing your posts.
I’ve also read that once you’ve changed to a business account you’re flagged and your viewership will go down. Also if you’ve ever boosted a post, you’re flagged and they’re going to make your account impossible to see, so you always have to boost everything. I’ve done both of these things and can say that boosting doesn’t work (when you’re making super niche stuff for an extremely specific audience, good luck reaching them). I’ve even said I would be willing to pay for a business account if it meant having a fighting chance, but it’s not an option.
Actual Instagram Alternatives
I’ll try to keep this short because I’ve been ranting for a long time. I’ve tried a bunch of things, and for a long time it seemed like no one was making what we’ve all been looking for. It’s possible that was the case, but also possible that we just couldn’t find them!
I’ve found two that I like so far, but I’ll outline the pros and cons I’ve found so far so you can make an informed decision.
Ello – The Creators Network
Ello is a photo and project sharing app for creatives. It says it’s built by artist FOR artists! It does really seem like they have the best intentions with this app. They genuinely want artists to get seen and promoted. It’s a nice change.
- Seems to have a nice network of interesting artists already on it
- Makes it super easy to share (with credit!) other people’s work
- You can post links that are “rich links”, for example when I posted a necklace I have on my etsy page it put a little “$” in the corner so people know it’s for sale
- The developers are constantly promoting users work, on the main page there’s tons of sliders with new people you can follow
- It’s a nice looking, visually appealing app
- Relatively easy to navigate
- You can you this on your desktop!
- It’s FREE
- NO ADS
- NO ALGORITHM
- NO ZUCKERBERG (yet?)
- It’s buggy. It’s pretty crashy at the moment, so there are kinks to be ironed out, but I think that’s ok.
- It’s only artists. So if you are a maker and want to reach everyone, it’s probably not going to be the best to reach the general public
- You shouldn’t post pics of what you’re eating or of your dog. It seems like it’s an app to post finished art work only. So as much as that is good, it removes that sort of fun, spontaneous aspect to it (I do like seeing peoples sandwiches)
- It’s not Instagram *single tear runs down face*
Here’s a couple of articles about Ello in case you wanted to read information about it from someone more eloquent than me.
Vero – True Social
This guy, this guy right here, this is the one that I think is going to actually going to give Instagram a run for it’s money. And shoutout to my buddy Liam for letting me know about this one. It seems like people, and creators I follow on Instagram are flocking to it. If you’re wanting to join I would do it soon, apparently only the first million users are getting free accounts, which leads me to my pros and cons list.
- People are jacked about Vero, according to an article I just read on Independent there are so many people flocking to it, it’s crashing and not working (whoops)
- It actually seems like a very feasible Instagram alternative
- It’s for everyone, their sandwiches are welcome, not just artists
- You can do the hashtags, you can follow new people using the hashtags, I love the hashtags!
- There are categories of followers! You can have “close friends”, “friends”, “acquaintances” and “followers” (wow it took me six tries to spell acquaintances). So you can post stuff for a specific audience!!!! Wow!! That would have been a NICE FEATURE, INSTAGRAM! Oh wait, they were too busy policing people for reusing hashtags, I FORGOT. Frigging turds.
- You can post what music you’re listening to, or what movie, it’s SUPER COOL! Being a movie nerd, this makes me veerrryyyy excited.
- NO ALGORITHM, NO ADS, NO DATA MINING, NO ZUCK
- They are eventually going to be charging for the service. I don’t know how much, I don’t know when, I know nothing. I just know that’s what they’ve said.
- It’s dark. Like the app design is very dark. Which my boyfriend really digs, but my personal aesthetic is bright colours and pastels. I know, it’s not a big deal, but for a visual person who likes things a certain way, it is a con. I doubt they will change this, and honestly, not even worth complaining about, I just don’t love it.
- It’s so buggy you’d think you were in a $40 a night hotel in South Dakota. ZING! Personal experience on that one. But ya, it’s crashing and super buggy and almost nothing is working, but thats because people are peeing themselves with excitement over a way to ACTUALLY see each others posts without some overlord deciding that for them.
- Their user agreement is pretty confusing and may be bad for creatives. I saw a post on instagram where someone was like, yo, they’re going to steal your work. I actually took the time to read the terms and conditions of the user agreement with Vero and from what I could understand (it’s in lawyer speak, I’ve emailed them asking for clarification, will update post when I hear back), it sounds like other users can reproduce and use your images without consent or credit. That’s why I have an active account, but no art posts. I realize this is the nature of the internet, people are going to use your work without credit. I’ve personally had my work stolen by a few big, and multiple small companies and reproduced for profit without my consent. It sucks. But what I don’t like is how it sounds in the user agreement that it’s fair game.
I also will be taking a break from Instagram from March 1 until March 8, as part of a Instagram Boycott with other small creators. Will they listen to our demands?! Almost certainly not. But, if you sit by and do nothing, you don’t have the right to complain (that’s why I always vote). I invite you to join me and others. Spend that time on Vero, and get on there quick like I said so that you’re one of the first million accounts.
In conclusion, I am very excited to have two new apps to share my work, and as important, see other users work and lives that I WANT to see! I hope to see you on both or either of the alternative apps. If you’re looking for me I’m Kodiak Milly, and I make weird stuff for trouble makers.
Before you write a mean comment:
- I know I’m not a good writer, you don’t need to drag me
- I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal to a lot of people, but for little creatives like me who depend on free promotion to pay the bills it IS a big deal. I want to spend all my time creating, not raging against the machine
- Be cool.