For the second event in our Know Your Orbit Grow Your Orbit event series, Norby’s own Sam Safer Valentine hopped on Clubhouse with some Norby crew members to mourn the death of our beloved Instagram as we know it. As a platform, Instagram has evolved and changed right before our eyes since its founding in 2010. What was once a casual photo journal to post grainy sunset pics and a blurry photo of your dog is now an algorithm-powered media monster utilized by, well, everyone it seems.
For some, Instagram is the place to go to show off the most glamorous, interesting, (and usually falsified) versions of themselves. Content creators and community builders alike flock to Instagram to build and support their brands, but all seem to have the same pain points with the platform. Despite the parts of Instagram that irritate us to no end, most people just can’t shake it. In fact, this month Instagram has seen the number of grid posts made in a day reach a new high as compared to last year. This raises the question-- is Instagram really dead, and if not, what does its future look like? Moderator Sam Safer Valentine spoke to Utibe Mbagwu, Jess Catorc, Eryn Danielle, and Jess Tran to get to the bottom of it.
Utibe is a social media strategist based in Brooklyn, New York. After her 4 year tenure managing social at Glossier, she has now taken on a role at Instagram on their social team.
Jess is the head of partnerships at Teachable, a platform for building out online courses and coaching services.
Eryn is a movement artist, model, and founder of Allies Doing Work, a community for conversations about race from the perspective of POC.
Jess is the founder of Scallion Pancake, a marketing agency that serves POC.
Sam is a co-founder and COO of Norby and was moderating this live discussion.
Not to fear, everyone, our beloved Instagram is still with us. She’s not dying, but she may be taking up less of your social media usage time in coming years. Instagram has ruled the social media lives of its users for years now. The pressure to be posting often--whether on stories, the grid, and now Reels, is very real. Sometimes it can feel like if you aren’t posting enough, you won’t be successful, popular, or liked, potential pun intended. Well, those days may be over sooner than we thought. Norby crew member Utibe Mbagwu thinks that Instagram isn’t necessarily dying, but it also isn’t going to rule over us anymore, either.
“I am interested in kind of shifting this discourse a little bit around Instagram dying because I think it is going to maybe shift into a platform that has a lower share of your social media pie. I think the structure of the platform is so fundamentally different from so many of the other contemporary platforms that it is hard to say that anything else will totally eclipse it.”
Ever heard about the Instagram algorithm? Everyone seems to hate it, but why? Well, it seems like the Instagram algorithm tends to pick favorites. To put it simply, the algorithm loves a very specific type of content. Creators and brands struggle with the battle against the Instagram algorithm on a daily basis. If the type of content they release isn’t necessarily favored by the algorithm, it ruins a creator’s chances of even being seen on their followers’ timelines. For small businesses and content creators, this could be detrimental to their growth. Norby crew members Jess Tran and Eryn Danielle have seen this firsthand.
“People want certain things from you but not others. I’ve been really curious about learning what the algorithm likes and what it doesn’t like because it helps inform my work as a marketer, and it’s very clear. People like my house, my body, and my clothes. They don’t like when I talk about sustainability, they don’t like when I talk about anything that I actually care about beyond what I can say are the most ‘press worthy’ things about myself.”
“I think (the algorithm) is making people critically reexamine their capacity to talk about things like race, gender, so on and so forth. (It’s like) trying to fight with an algorithm or an app that isn’t maybe treating them well."
Insta’s cooler younger sister, otherwise known as Tik Tok, is actively competing with Instagram for the title of reigning superior social platform. The uptick in Tik Tok’s popularity may have been catapulted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but as we begin to come out the other side, it looks like Tik Tok is still here to stay. Will Tik Tok take over? Norby crew member Jess Carotc commented.
“I think that really depends on how they work with creators and how they adapt with the new wave of content. They need to listen to the creators and the users, looking at the content they are consuming, and finding ways to help them grow even beyond the platform. Whether that's being able to monetize their content in an easier way, or finding new partnership opportunities, I think that’s gonna be what really determines it.”
Using Instagram to grow a small business feels like a required part of the growth process in a lot of ways. The value that we have placed on a strong Instagram presence is quite high, and for entrepreneurs just kicking off their journeys, the pressure to build an Instagram following is real. How can Instagram help or hinder small business owners? Jess Catorc thinks Instagram makes it hard for small businesses to be real and post things they actually enjoy.
“There is a fine balance between creating content that you are passionate about, and then starting to feel like you have to create content that is going to perform well. It’s a constant dance between starting a business and realizing that you need to do (certain things) to perform well.”
So, to revisit our question from earlier, it seems that Instagram still has some life left in it. While the platform may not be dead, the way users are utilizing it is most definitely evolving. As we learn more about the algorithm and Instagram as a whole, we can be informed in how we decide to use Instagram. The slice of Instagram pie may grow smaller and smaller, but it doesn’t look like it will ever really be dead and gone. Ultimately, that decision is up to its users and their behavior. Will we be attending an Instagram funeral in the future? I guess we will have to stick around to find out.
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