How INSTAGRAM gave me roadmap, and stole it back.

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VVendetta

This blog has never really had a solid goal or direction. I’ve owned this domain for over 14 years its just been my spot in space. In the last 3 years I have been interacting heavily on INSTAGRAM (IG). @BETHKAYA

IG gave me an incredible tool to communicate with. It became something I loved. I made buckets of new friends, connected with clients all over the world and explored beautiful photography techniques that would help my art become a viable business and voice of my own. This felt like the renaissance. I was getting a lot of traffic from every share. Every share amounted to sales, and brands were connecting with me to collaborate. It totally had it’s underbelly. Copy Catters and other various bits of undesirable natural social hiccups but I have sang the platforms praises, till now.

In the last 9 months or so, I noticed something alarming. I am organically sitting with 20 thousand + blessed subscribers. However, I am only engaging with less then 1% of them. When my following was at less than 10K I was garnering about 300 engagements per photo, this has been steadily and cyclically slashed. Now at 20 k I am engaging around 100. Also , I LOVED giving shout outs. I love tagging my friends and other makers in photos. Now when I do so, my photos are blocked and sometimes just removed. What happened?

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I stare at my shop analytics and see the writing on the wall. The traffic to etsy is not coming from etsy (Thanks Etsy?) its coming from Instagram and a shred from google alla this site. Sales are remarkably down. They are still trickling from previous clients. I am sure grateful for these relationships I took time to foster. New clients? Very slim. This is panic mode as a business owner. I can’t stand quiet about it either.

I thought about class action lawsuits on the grounds of interfering with my ability to conduct business. I have over 100 friends who are feeling the algorithmic throttle from Instagram too. Did they have a task force come and hunt us down and sell us to the spam people who email me 3 X a week asking if I need more likes on my photos? Probably. Did haters mark my posts as spam or report me? A fraction, Probably. Did facebook decide that in order for me to reach my audience I need to boost through their marketing console on my facebook business page? Totally! Ultimately I can’t help but think there is a liability waiver for all of these thoughts built into their terms and conditions. I mean – who really knows what we sign away every time we agree to another app? Right? I can assume I have no leg to stand on. I can assume that once again the small business red tape grows wider then we were led to believe because social media “lessened that”.

So here I am, cut off from you. I’m not gonna lie – it hurts in more ways I can begin to describe. I watched a video of (KATWISE) another indie roots artist, who’s work I know from the music scene. In her video she was crying because of the very thing I am typing about. Being cut off from you, who we love, who supports our art, keeps food on the table and the lights on in our homes. For some artists, its not just a hobby – we price on formulas for fair market so we can compete in a healthy thriving arena. We sell wholesale, things we’ve made our selves. We are around the world with our businesses. We are up at all hours, fighting with the post office or packing things with absolute labors of love. Somehow that community gets that we to need lift each other up. We get each other and want to see others fullfill their passions and make a living at it if possible.

I know by now IG has seen the dozens of petitions, the #keepitchronological campaigns and more. I know Instagram robots have seen the 20+ letters I’ve written begging for throttle to my waiting audience to be lifted.

What else can I do?

This?

I was just a kid with a dream once too. A 16 year old on her own set out for NYC to be a working artist some day. I worked for the machine and clawed through design school at night. Instagram gave me a present, a way to express, UNDILUTED and in the most authentic way possible. People took to that, organically – and you took those people.

I know, I know, it’s just a platform. Wake up and live real life right? I know. All the haters, hate on me for being a cry baby. I will take that too. It’s just a space in time – things change, roll with the punches, sink or swim right?

I’m not going down either – I will keep sharing even if it’s to limited eyes. Those eyes matter!

This is about the art and what message is left behind when all it becomes is cosmic debris. The content I make comes from something that has nothing to do with this, and I admit I got too wrapped up in it’s power. This is a great equalizer. I won’t compare myself to those who haven’t been targeted by these shifts or who have garnered insane audiences doing things that well, have different merits then I would invest in.  “Followers” are not the things to be preoccupied with. Relationships are. You can pan for gold in a gold field and still just find one little golden piece, but gold is gold.

Anyway, I just had to get that it out. This was an uppercut to my ability to do a lot of things growth wise that I had projected this year but I am just taking a detour and more real world roads this time. Thankfully, people still exist. That’s the medicine. Don’t put all your business eggs in one basket, and businesses found ways to survive when the climate changed.

Strikes and Gutters-

XO

Beth

 

*Edited to ad a side rant about Etsy, what is going on with etsy?

Apart from not getting any traffic or sales from their strip mall, they are using bots to deactivate listings based on algorithms too. 3 times in the last week my listings have been deactivated for no reason in my eyes. I spoke intensively with the “integrity” team as well. In order to garner traffic from etsy, you have to promote your own listings on top of the listing fee AND the check out commission? Where does it end? Stop nickle and diming! Stop bullying the little guy, who has done nothing but bring YOU traffic and revenue. Sheesh!

11 comments

  1. Lenny Fontana says:

    I empathize on many levels, but also feel it’s not IG’s responsibility to sell your product. IG is a product and honestly, lots of people felt that when people started selling through it, that that was also not what it was about.

    I am sorry you have lost income, but honestly don’t see IG being at fault. That target audience you have lost is more so to blame. They stopped looking you up as well.

    Kinda like a shop in the mall, you know it’s there, but you know what it self, and maybe you don’t want that product any more so you stop going.

    Yes IG changed the format, but it’s your audience that stopped coming to your page.

    • Bethany says:

      I respect your opinion but disagree whole heartedly and find it pretty off putting for you to suggest that my audience is just simply “over” my work. That is not at all reflected in the feedback I get what so ever from shoppers and visitors to my live events or from this blog post itself. Additionally, I have an army of artists who have notably been affected since the algorithm shift. Did you watch the video linked? It’s a numbers game, and some are affected some aren’t. We were sold off and slashed. Thanks for sorta reading.

    • JustJoia says:

      I think it’s pretty weird that you took the time to comment negatively like this. I think that maybe you don’t understand exactly how these social media outlets work. Instagram is blocking her posts from all of her followers, THATS what she’s saying. Bethkaya has over 21,000 followers, so each and every one of her followers SHOULD be seeing her posts. She says that she has tracking software that shows how many people are viewing her posts. Why is it that she sends out her beautiful photos for all 21 thousand of her followers to see, but only 100 or so are actually seeing them. I don’t even get to see all her posts, unless I search her name and look for them myself. That’s not how IG is supposed to work. If I follow someone, I want to actually see their posts, not go through all the people I follow, one by one and look for their posts manually.

      I’m running into the same exact problem on Facebook. I’m in a documentary about birth and we have 5700 followers. When we post updates and links and whatever else we feel like posting, our posts should be reaching each and every one of those 5700 people, but they don’t. Sometimes when we post updates, 6 people actually saw the update. It doesn’t make any sense. Are you telling me that 5700 followers are completely inactive on Facebook? or 21000 of BethKaya’s followers are inactive on IG? it’s a block, an intentional block and the only way around it is to pay to boost your posts and even if you pay, there’s STILL no guarantee that your post is going to actually reach every single one of your followers.

    • ZW says:

      You’re way off base, troll. IG is tampering with many accounts. Joia reiterated the problem quite eloquently, so there’s no reason for me to do it again.

  2. Erin says:

    Perhaps it’s time to start brainstorming with other artists to create a platform for that purpose. While I don’t IG I have had similar issues with FB when posting from my business page.

  3. Christine says:

    I am definitely not over your work BK. I dont get on IG alot but when I do, it seems to be the same people over and over again. I dont even see my real friends as much as I see this particular business, and Im not sure why that is.

    Either way, I love your stuff and will always be a fan (as well as a consumer)

  4. Drew says:

    As a full-time maker I see the same struggles. Many of our livelihoods depend on social media exposure and we just don’t get that many options for promotion. If I could pay them a reasonable fee as a legitimate business, I would do so. But their advertising packages don’t cater to the smaller people. Just the corporates who can pay the big dollars.

    • Bethany says:

      How many places can we be nickle and dimed and still make a fair wage? Etsy Fees, Facebook Fees, Check out Fees, Terminal Fees, IG fees and just basic Overhead fees – when you MAKE what you SELL what are you really ending up as your wage when all of this kicks in at once, then ad being a tax payer and it’s crazy. Small business should be encouraged and given tools, praised and supported – it’s discouraged and being trampled! We gotta stick together.

  5. Michelle says:

    I do not believe I saw the claim in the original post that it is in any way IG’s responsibility to sell an artist’s product. This is merely a reflection on the significant shifts that have occurred over the past several months with regard to viewer visibility & content interaction. As someone who uses IG for a non business purpose, I will report also feeling disheartened from the shifts that have occurred. This has less to do with *keeping* an audience satisfied & more to do with an expansive quality that has been stunted due to a monetary agenda. Whereas this has become a reality for many social media platforms (including Facebook, etsy, etc.) it is within the artist’s right & duty to vocalize the pitfalls inherent in such a narrow focus. I do believe many are being victimized by shifts like what is happening on IG & I, for one, know better not to blame the victim.

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