Slave to the Algorithm

Back in 2014, one year after I opened my online shop, it became clear that ‘Agnes Ashe’ should be on Instagram. The occasion that prompted my boarding this particular social media train was when the US craft platform, Etsy, decided to make a UK television advert. In order to be included in the selection procedure Etsy wanted to see your work on Instagram.

First Instagram post for Agnes Ashe 8 May 2014.

The above is the first post I made on Instagram back on 8th May 2014 and over the next couple of weeks the pictures uploaded on a daily basis included my painted silk scarves, flowers, my garden and, of course, the ubiquitous coffee shot!

My first fortnight on Instagram back in May, 2014.

I haven’t posted a coffee photo in years and it is rare that I post any food or cooking pictures these days, but I still post many flowers and, needless to say, my silk painting work. But, in this fast moving world of everything social media, Instagram, is not the same platform it was back in 2014.

Instagram has been around for about 11 years and during the first five years there were no significant algorithm changes, not even when Facebook bought the platform in 2012 as Instagram hit 50 million active users. By the time I joined in 2014, Facebook had already introduced advertising the previous year despite considerable grumbling from their longtime users.

Instagram’s different presentation modes.

However, 2016 was the watershed year when ‘the Algorithm’ (basically how other people find and see your posts) was totally overhauled. From this time onwards Instagram and visibility have been a moveable feast. I guess for high profile Instagram stars and celebrities it is all part of the social media game, but for regular individuals or small businesses posting on Instagram whether simple posts, stories (recent example below) or reels, it is not quite the useful beast it once was. It has turned into somewhat of a voracious monster for me gobbling up my working time prepping not only photos, but videos and slideshows. I suppose some aspects of social media work are creative, but I would rather be creating and painting scarves.

A recent story which on my Instagram has accompanying music too.

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

16 thoughts on “Slave to the Algorithm”

    1. To be honest once Covid arrived I pretty much gave up trying to ‘play the game’ and started posting pictures that I wanted to more often and not seven days a week.

    1. Thanks for watching the video. If you’re not using Instagram the video was new although most of the photos have been included in one Blog post or another.

  1. I watched the video too. Thank you! But all these things were MEANT to be tools. Now they take us over. So far, I haven’t migrated past Facebook and WordPress (and LinkedIn and Goodreads – but they’re kind of different).

    1. Thanks for taking the time to watch. As I mentioned to Susan the video is new, but you’ve probably seen the photos on one Blog post or another. Yes, tools indeed, not so much for us though these days. I’ve never been on Facebook despite an early business mentor suggesting I did. However, that advice was soon overtaken with no don’t bother, use Instagram instead for very visually focussed fashion stuff. It still took the Etsy thing before I was truly pushed into making an Insta account. Taking photos is the easy part don’t you agree, but producing reasonable quality anything day after day after day tends to kill the muse.

      1. I’m so petrified of uploading hi-res images and needing to upgrade my wordpress account that I reduce them to not very good photos. But since mine simply accompany the story, I let it go. But it is something I need to work on more. I get quite a pang when I see my crisp bright images reduced to a blur.

      2. Yes, I remember you saying before you were near the upload limit. All very annoying because going back and altering file sizes is tedious to the point of soul destroying.

  2. What a nightmare, being obliged to be in thrall to social media. I use it less and less – I glance at Instagram, and then there’s WordPress and Goodreads – but then using these platforms is not key to my livelihood. Great video though!

    1. Ah ta and thanks for watching the video, but you may have seen it (or not!) on Instagram. I know I shouldn’t say it, but I am becoming more and more resentful at having to use social media. I don’t find it ‘fun’ plus so much content is trivial which I find jars in current times. I certainly could do with a good laugh, but sadly with an incompetent government in power there is an amazing dearth of biting, amusing satire at present.

      1. There is some chatter that Instagramā€™s 2021 algorithm updates result in only 10% of one’s followers seeing a post. Apparently one has to be busy ‘engaging’ on Instagram to gain their favour. Really life is too short.

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