NOTE: This blog post is part 6 of my INSTAGRAM SERIES - content all about helping YOU manage your way around instagram. In the INSTAGRAM SERIES I've touched on subjects such as why you're losing followers (and what to do about it), how to grow your instagram following and shadowbanning. Just click here to find all the other parts in the series. Now on with today's post!
I agree, HOW INSTAGRAM IS TRYING TO GET RID OF (FOOD) BLOGGERS is somewhat of a provocative blog title, but in essence it's the only way to describe what's currently happening in the mysterious world of instagram. And though the title is tongue in cheek of course, I dare say today's blog post is by far my most 'serious' and my longest in the series to date. So, if you're a full-time blogger or someone considering making blogging your career then please read on!
Though most pro-bloggers have a range of different income sources, for many sponsored content on instagram plays a key role in making a living as a full-time blogger.
WHAT IS SPONSORED CONTENT ON INSTAGRAM?
Many companies work with bloggers (also referred to as 'influencers') on social media to reach their target audience. To give you an example, I have done sponsored content on instagram for a set monitary fee promoting organic fruit, vegetables and superfoods as my followers consist mainly of female foodies with a leaning towards plant-based, healthy foods. A perfect fit - I get to tell those that follow me on instagram about foods I believe in, brands get to reach people that are likely to buy and love what they've got to offer and I earn money which allows me to continue to provide my readers with free content.
WHY BLOGGERS NOW NEED TO REVEAL WHEN CONTENT IS SPONSORED
In March 2017 for the first time and by law bloggers/influencers had to reveal to their followers that their content was sponsored by clearly using the hashtag #ad, #sp, #sponsored in their instagram post etc. Though I did this even before the law was introduced, it was a change I welcomed; it's SO important to be transparent with your followers. And anything other than honesty just won't do in my books! So then, what's the big deal?
INSTAGRAM CAN NOW MONITOR, AFFECT AND CHANGE WHETHER YOUR FOLLOWERS SEE YOUR SPONSORED CONTENT OR NOT!
By making you use the #ad hashtag, instagram now has the power to easily find sponsored content, monitor, impact and change how and if your followers get to see it! This my friends is really, really important info, so listen up!
In other words, when you use the hashtag #ad, instagram can automatically decrease the reach of your instagram post and indeed - from my personal experience - will do just that. So it's the algorthims in action, just totally and utterly stacked against you, the brand you're working with and your sponsored content.
WHY WOULD INSTAGRAM REDUCE THE VISIBILITY OF YOUR SPONSORED CONTENT?
Now this is the million dollar questions, isn't it? But if you understand anything about business and capitalism, you'll know the answer, won't you? Yup, it's because of money. See instagram offers brands the possibility of paying instagram directly to post ads on the social media platform and reach their target audience. Instagram has done this more or less since late 2015. But as the instagram platform has grown and with it instagram's chance to make good money, so has their desire to maximize their ad space revenue. Makes total business sense, right?
So where do bloggers fit in? Well if brands go to bloggers rather than directly to instagram to promote their product, where does that leave instagram? With less capital to play with! So - thought the people behind instagram - let's get rid of our 'competitors' by making their brand promos ineffective and ensure brands come directly to us instead! Step in instagram's ability to sabotage/block/decrease the reach of your sponsored content and TADA instagram's back in the game.
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE THE PRO-BLOGGER?
The bottom line is this: WHY WOULD BRANDS PAY YOU TO FEATURE THEIR PRODUCTS IF YOUR FOLLOWERS CANNOT SEE YOUR POST? They won't, simply put. Of course influencer indorsement is VERY powerful and - at least for the time being - unlikely to go away. It is - at least for the time being - more powerful than those annoying insta ads. Most brands know this and hence it's not ALL doom and gloom BUT I do wonder whether we can command a meaningful rate if our reach for sponsored content continues to decline. And knowing instagram, it WILL decline.
A WORD OF CAUTION! I've noticed some bloggers NOT using #ad, #sp etc. on their sponsored posts on instagram. I get WHY they are doing this, but I do NOT recommend going down this route, no matter how tempting. In the long run, you loose credibility. Plus you risk being fined. Not fun and defo not worth it!
SO HOW CAN YOU SURVIVE THIS LATEST INSTAGRAM TWIST AND ENSURE YOU CAN STILL PAY YOUR BILLS?
Now before I get to the 'happy ending', may I just stress that this change is really significant and - if my gut is ANYTHING to go by - things on instagram for pro-bloggers will only get more and more difficult. There are no easy solutions, quick fixes or short cuts. Sorry to break it to ya guys but you can...
VOTE WITH YOUR FEET!
Do you know how often I post something on the blog, have people take the long journey here, read the blog post in full, only to go back to instagram and write ON THERE how much they loved my blog post?! It's because we have become SO freakin' reliant on instagram for EVERYTHING; it's convenient, quick, easy. (If the blog comment section is the meaningful meeting with your friend in the coffee shop for 3 hours, instagram is the quick text you send your friend whilst doing 101 other things!)
In other words, as long as WE nourish instagram as a platform, rather than nourish REAL connections with the bloggers that provide us with the free content we love, it will become harder and harder for those very bloggers to survive.
TAKE AWAY! I am NOT suggesting abandoning instagram. God no! I AM however suggesting weening yourself off its heavy, excessive use, moving towards more meaningful connections with the content AND the content creators you love by visiting their blog, meeting with them in person, sharing their content etc.
START A BLOG!
I know I sound like an old record BUT it you're an instagram influencer and ''nothing else'' NOW is the time to extend your wings and start a blog. It's there and there alone where you control your content 100%! If you do not have a blog, your chances of surviving in this changing social media landscape are slim!
If you have a blog but do not produce regular, meaningful, high quality content for your readers, your chances of surviving in the blogosphere are slim! Harsh words, but I mean well, trust me.
To give you an example, I have posted bi-weekly (so about 2-3 posts a month) for 2 years and done rather well despite it, but I am now moving towards producing weekly content. See I'm not just dishing out advice, I'm practicing what I preach.
TAKE AWAY! The blog is BACK! Start a blog NOW, nourish it and it will nourish you!
CREATE MULTIPLE INCOME SOURCES
Cuz I'm so, so picky about the products I promote and there are only a few that are good enough for me and more importantly good enough for my dear followers, instagram sponsorship has never been my main income source. Instead, I make a living as a food photographer, food and prop stylist, recipe developer, educator and instagram mentor. I'm not mentioning this to show off, I'm saying this because I want YOU to do the same! Develop a skill, a real skill that can survive and thrive no matter what happens with instagram!
TAKE AWAY! Please don't put all your eggs in one basket. Cuz if that one basket breaks, there ain't much left!
START A MAILING LIST
Another one you've heard me say before, but I mention it because it's just so important. I LOVE my instagram followers but if truth be told, I LOVE my mailing list subscribers 1000x more. They take a genuine, real interest in me, my blog and my services and as a consequence I give them all I've got and lots, LOTS more.
When instagram is a distant memory and when facebook no longer exists, they will still be there. And man please know I will be there for them with kick ass content right here on my modest little corner in the blogosphere.
TAKE AWAY! So if you haven't started a mailing list yet, pleeeaasssee start NOW!
LIKE THIS POST?
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Wanna give back and make me MEGA happy? Then please leave a comment below. Tell me how you feel about the changes on instagram or just tell me how you're doing. I'd love to hear from you.
Thanks sooo much for reading everyone and see you all next week!