The Algorithm of Hell
I've never been a prolific user of social networks, especially Instagram. You could say that I don't care about followers, and that's the truth. On my personal account, my followers are barely the people I know in real life, and I like it this way. Whenever I tried to open a social account for project of mines, however, I always stumbled upon the huge difficulty to build a fan base or, using more down-to-earth terms, to reach a little potential audience.
Since we were already in the '20s, when I started writing short stories on Crooked Ink, I decided to open an Instagram account because it was (and still is) the most popular social media. Ah, I can only smile when looking back to my ingenuity. 🥲 I was writing stories, and Instagram users used to watch photos (Reels didn't exist yet, I think). How to do? I thought it was simple: adapt to the user base. If they like pictures, just post pics.
I had been warned that it wouldn't be simple1, but it was the only idea I had. I started posting photos from our vacations (we had started using a reflex camera, we got some remarkable memories) and added some quotes from famous authors as captions. Then, I started following some "dark", or "moody", photographers, and they followed back. Every four or five posts, I inserted an image with a quote from a short story of mines. Nobody was interested, and I never got any feedback. When I tried to follow some of the… book influencers, however… I was baffled, at least, about their content.
Now, excuse the outburst, but how in the world this must be a so obvious oxymoron? Most of these "book influencers" (at least, the ones I found) are girls or boys who take very complicated selfies while pretending to read a book. Then, in the caption, they might write a review of their opinions. Ok, I thought, it's a social based on photos. But the worst thing is that I did not receive almost any feedback when I tried to interact with comments (and I swear I tried several times). Maybe I was just unlucky, but…
Long story short: after a couple of years of inactivity, I just deleted Crooked Ink's Instagram profile.
That was just one of my misadventures. Now, let's focus on an account with quite big numbers. My girlfriend, who currently has 13.2K followers (!) because of her wool creations, took a break from Instagram for a couple of years when we decided to buy the house we're renovating. Last month, she decided to get back with the business, but everything was changed.
At first, she sadly noticed that her stories were viewed by less than 1% of her followers. After publishing some posts or videos, the situation didn't change at all, and she slowly became to be depressed by this situation: what are thousands of followers for, if they can't see your content?
She saw several stories from other artists complaining about the same flaw: no matter what they do, their reach is extremely low compared to last year. So, here is the big question: how does the algorithm work? Some say things get better when buying ads to promote your posts… but this just makes things worse! Instagram and Meta are just becoming like those fake free apps… that work properly only if you buy in-app purchases.
This is not the world I want to live in. People like my girlfriend, who want to reach an audience who can appreciate their art, don't have to struggle in invisible mazes that one can't solve.
Luckily, there are some social networks as Mastodon that still give me hope.
I am doing my best to help her with her passion: first, I introduced her to Mastodon, and for now she is noticing smaller numbers, of course, but much more interaction. She doesn't love technology or computers at all, I don't know if she'd have ever heard about the fediverse without my guide.
Anyway, I took this a bit too much personally, and I made my duty to find a loophole in the algorithm.
Here are the key points I found, which confirmed my view:
- Instagram really hates bots
- Instagram loves money, but will rarely give you something back (not even visibility)
- Instagram rewards you if you're Meta verified
- Instagram rewards you if you try the new things
Well, these are more than enough, for me, to quit this social network once for all. Actually, at the end, I'll keep my personal account just to keep in contact with some friends. As always.
In conclusion, if you're interested in growing your Instagram account (which I find quite disgusting, at this point, but whatever), I recommend a very cool project that uses Android emulation to bypass bot detection.
But honestly, for your health, consider using a different social network.
🎮 Death's Door (trying to finish it at 100%)
🎧 The Night is for Dreamers by Din of Celestial Birds
📖 Scott Pilgrim #1 and #2 (re-read after twelve years) ❤️
My girlfriend, a needle felting artist, at that time had more than 10K followers, so I knew she was an "expert"… though she already hated Instagram at the time.↩