Story and photos by Elisa Garcia
Scroll, double tap —comment, if you’d like— and repeat. That’s how simple it was to stay in-the-moment on Instagram. Yet, when the social media giant ditched its reverse chronological-based display in 2016, users became angry when its algorithm displayed posts by popularity.
Users have continued to show their dislike for the algorithm, but Instagram did not respond with a solution until March 22. Instagram revealed they were making a change to the algorithm to display more photos and videos closer to chronological order, aiming to show newer posts first in users’ feeds.
“With these changes, your feed will feel more fresh, and you won’t miss the moments you care about,” Instagram said in a blog post.
But the solution did not come quick enough, the uproar has caused many public figures, popular brands and influencers to seek out Vero, a social platform similar to ‘the old Instagram’ in that users can see pictures in reverse chronological order. But it’s unlike Instagram in that users can post statuses, share links, and recommend films and books.
Although the app first launched in 2015, it has been downloaded thousands of times since February, due to rising frustrations with Instagram.
“Vero is a social network for anyone who loves anything enough to share it—and wants control over who they share it with,” Vero’s website reads. “Just like we do in real life.”
Some celebrities are loving the jump to Vero with Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian West, BANKS, Rita Ora and Selena Gomez already adopting the platform.
Despite Vero’s rising popularity, not all influencers are ready to jump on the bandwagon. Katie Blanchard, a blogger based in San Antonio, Texas is not taking the change to heart.
“I think that influencers are pretty in the know about changes and adapt to them in ways such as posting in their stories or calling for their followers to comment with a specific emoji,” Blanchard said. “As for Vero, do you see anyone talking about it anymore?”
Vero users are already complaining about bugs, plus the fact users will eventually have to pay a subscription fee.
In an interview with New Statesman, Dr. Sharon Coen, a social and media psychologist at the University of Salford, said “changing social networks is a bit like changing mobile phone and having to re-enter all your contacts by hand.”
Writer at the New Statesman Amelia Tait states the point of social networks is to be social and people don’t want to ‘lose’ connections and friendships they’ve forged by jumping ship to different sites. It’s hard to imagine Instagram influencers swapping 10,000 followers for 10.
Coen also noted that many social media networks act as diaries for their users, in that users can look through their ‘personal histories.’ Some people’s Facebook has a decade worth of pictures and memories and it’s something most people don’t want to lose.
Blanchard, a University of Texas at Austin alumna, holds a background in advertising and social media and believes her business perspective helped her understand the change.
“It’s a little disheartening to know that if you don’t get high engagement within the first hour of the post only 10 percent of your followers will see it” she said. “You might be sitting there like ‘Wow, OK, I know my follows would dig this post, sucks for the remaining 90 percent who may not see it.’ I get that Instagram wants to curate the best feed for us, but it is what it is. It’s business at the end of the day.”
For Abdi Torres, creator and blogger of The Inspospot, a blog dedicated to empower girls and inspire them to live a life designed by them, debuted after the algorithm change in summer 2017 with about 700 followers. Today, Torres has grown her following to 1,261 followers by consistently posting content that allows her to engage with her followers.
“Everyone wants to grow their following,” she said. “Although I think that is very important, I always try to focus on building lasting relationships with potential companies, local bloggers and even some of my followers. This creates engagement which can sometimes be more valuable than a huge following.”
Torres believes the solution lies in Instagram reaching out to established influencers and come to an accord that benefits both influencers and Instagram.
“I feel like you must work even harder than before to be noticed and to make sure you content catches the attention of those who see it,” she said.
But there is hope on the horizon for influencers.
In addition to Instagram’s updated algorithm, the company also said it’s testing a ‘New Posts’ button that will allow users to refresh their feed on their own, rather than automatically being bumped to the top of their feed when the app refreshes.
Instagram said it will be adding more improvements to its feed over the next few months.
Blanchard said any change on the platform can both hurt and benefit one’s influence, but plans to grow her following on Instagram by remaining consistent with her posts, taking high quality pictures, upgrading to a business account and staying relevant.
“A goal I set for myself is to remain true to myself.” she said. “I don’t do what everyone else does or tells you to do. I don’t use the same VSCO filter for every photo, I don’t take selfie after selfie, I don’t take back-to-back fashion blogger pictures, I don’t stick to one niche on my account either, I have a lot of interests and I want to use my account for all of them.”