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Do Not Focus on Followers, The Algorithm Has Changed

A few days ago, an article popped up on my Medium homepage The Future of Digital Writing: Why 80,000 Followers on Medium Means Nothing. I was intrigued to open it.

And while I skimmed through its content, it all made so much sense.

So, I came up with my Instagram version because it's the platform I have had the most experience with. You may read the whole thing or one-sentence summary at the end of this post.

In the years 2018 and 2019, my followers count shot up like a rocket but it dropped significantly since the middle of 2020. "Why?" you may ask.

I have plenty of reasons to support that it's okay if I am losing followers because I know for a fact that I am not alone!

Here are some of the possible reasons:

  1. Reels! Obviously, people love watching the dance videos over educational or videos with the words (talking on behalf of Instapoets). Ever since reels came to the Instagram, static photo posts lost their value (and even Instagram itself said that Instagram is not just a photo-sharing app now, it's more than that).
  2. No longer the Instapoets era! There was a time when Instagram loved quotes and poetry... when poets became Instapoets and poems became a few words or lines long. I am one of them. Instagram turned me into a published poet, no doubt about that. But I don't think people want quotes or poems now, they want something else. I'll come to that point soon. And even Instagram said that reels with lesser or no text performs well (this caption told me so). So, what would poets who are camera-shy and microphone-shy do then? Maybe add text to an aesthetic video along with some music and reel it? Oh, but reels with more text don't reach many people.
  3. The algorithm is no longer followers based, it's engagement based! How many people you follow actually appear on your timeline? A few that you regularly interact with and then a bunch of posts that 'you might be interested in' followed by reels suggestions. We used to follow people to see their content on a timeline but now, Instagram sees if we really are interested in their content by checking the frequency of our engagement with their post. And people read poems or quotes, take the screenshots and put them on their status, often also cropping the writer's name from the image! Engagement? Who needs that?
If you don't engage with others, you are going to face the algorithm's wrath and your reach will be doomed. In my opinion, Instagram is most likely supporting those that stay glued to their screens ALL THE TIME, whether creating content, engaging with others on their own posts or engaging with other people's posts.

You cannot let such a rubbish algorithm affect your mental or physical health.

Coming back to what I said about people wanting something else.

Instagram has now become a huge platform for businesses, especially small businesses. People aren't interested in what others have to offer, they are interested in growing their following, their clients and their business.

And while chasing Instagram growth, they are forgetting to build the seller-client relationships, hence, seeing a decline instead.

Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

So, who are the real people that are benefiting from Instagram?

It's simple—the growth strategists! Because they're offering the only thing that people are looking for on Instagram right now.

Even I had followed two of them — unfollowed recently when I realised they made Instagram more stressful than fun.

I remember the time when I had started writing and posting on Instagram without caring about numbers. It was a beautiful time. I think I was more successful as a writer on Instagram at 3k than I am at 83k. It's the readers that matter, not the followers.

IG is showing everyone the dances or the growth strategies because people interact with them. IG shows them the content that they find engaging and hence decreasing the reach of writers.

Summarising in a sentence: the followers count no longer matters because the algorithm is now engagement-based.