Turning on Instagram Notifications

A picture of someone holding a phone with the Instagram logo
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"So what's the next best social platform now that @instagram has wrecked its app? I'll follow who I want, thank you." - @MastImages Chris Mast on Twitter and Instagram

The Death of Instagram aka Facebook

It's either the "The Sky is Falling!" Chicken Little story or the sky is really falling bro, it's time to go.  It's either the death of Instagram or it is a great way to level the playing field for photographers and creatives on the massive social media platform.

Instagram announced the move from linear to algorithm earlier this month and the rollout is to begin this week. My Facebook and Twitter feeds have constantly been talking about this since the announcement.  The sky is falling. It's not going to be so bad. The range of opinions has been flooding the internets. So far those against the change are winning.

"It's a shame the last platform that showed you real-time updates from specific folks you follow just made the (inevitable) move towards further advertorial bias" - @jordanbstead Jordan Stead on ​Twitter and Instagram

Instagram is a monster platform. Millions of photos shared daily, hundreds of millions of users weekly - the photo-sharing network is by far the most utilized.  As I discussed in my write up about the announcement, Instagram stated that 70% of your followings on Instagram are not showing up in your timeline. You are missing out on all of your friends and inspirations. The posts that you love, the photographers you follow are getting lost in the Instagram linear black hole. Lost, I tell you. Well, Instagram is telling you actually.

Why the Uproar?

The tweet from Chris Mast was followed up with this to me, "My concern with the change is that for a 'little guy' like me it will be next to impossible to get noticed."

This is true.  Instagram is going to tell you based on the data and the habits that you show when you are in the app what you should see.  This is huge.  People (professional individuals and brands) have worked very hard to get your attention. This move to an algorithm will make it harder to compete for peoples attention. For right now, there are only a few ways to check the analytics of your Instagram account  - so it does not bode well for both the little guy or the big guy unless you have big marketing dollars. (See where I'm going with this.)

Damn It's SO Crowded in Here

Your user experience has changed and will continue to change.  It is really crowded in the world of Instagram. Like elbow to elbow crowded. Like elbow to elbow crowded during Friday rush hour traffic crowded. This in itself will alter your use of Instagram. It will definitely lessen how much you use the app. Like its parent company, Facebook, Instagram is saying that it will show you image posts that you have missed in hopes that it captures back that time that you used to spend on it. Well, let me backtrack, the posts that you missed that have done well.  What do I mean?

Ok so let's say, on one hand, you follow an inspirational landscape photographer from Finland who is awesome but does not have a large following.  On the other hand, you have another inspirational follow from New York City who does symmetry and architecture and has a huge following.  They both post at different times during the day but you only check your Instagram at 11 PM PST.  You follow a few hundred active Instagrammers so it does take some time to catch up on the day's post. Well, Instagram wants to make it easier with this change in feed delivery.  The robots of Instagram will put the post that did the best at the top of your feed.  More than likely because your friend from NYC has more followers and more ability to amass more engagement, that is what you are going to see in your feed and unfortunately not see your friend from Finland's post.

The Campaign

Well, the users of Instagram have decided to take matters into their own hands.  There has been a petition circulating the internets but that has fallen on deaf ears over at Instagram HQ. So the campaigning has begun.

There is an option for you as a user of the platform to turn on the notifications of your favorite instagramer despite the new feed change delivery.  Or at least that's what they think. This may or may not be true, but again it's better to try than not to try.  You will find on your Instagram that there is a push to "Turn on my notifications."

Each post that shows up on your Instagram feed has this option.  At the top of each of the users' posts, you will see 3 dots. When you click these dots it gives you the option to; Report, Share to Facebook, Tweet, Copy Share URL, Turn On Post Notifications.  You will click the latter to help this campaign and to put that users post on your feed.  By the way, you need to have your push notifications turned on in your settings to have complete control.  If you do this with your push notifications off, you will then have to manually go to each of those users you turn it on for to turn it off.  That can become very tedious.  

BUT what does this really do?

This tells you when this user posts on Instagram. That is it.  You bypass the algorithm and the users you choose to turn on, you will always see their posts - theoretically. Actually, this has turned off quite a few Instagram users. Some look at is a spam and others see it as "follow for a follow" tactic.

"Is there an option to block people from turning on notifications for me? There are more important things." - @brenna_marriie Brenna Nickels on ​Twitter and Instagram

"I shut off notifications on @instagram years ago, I like to experience the app on my own time, not when you post - I still like u though." - @petehalvorsen Pete Halvorsen on Twitter and ​Instagram

So What Now? Is It Really That Serious?

For me, it's a wait and sees type deal. I know that engagement and at least the users I follow are way down as far as usage.  There was a day (2010-2014) when the community on Instagram that I was following was extremely active.  These were the days before celebrities and sponsored ads took hold.  These were the days before memes took hold.  These were the days that it was just millions of users active on a weekly basis not like today's daily stat.

Has Instagram changed? Yes. Will it continue to change? Yes. Will there be an exodus? Maybe.

Until then you can turn on notifications for my Instagram if you'd like.

*Insert smiley face, blushing face, shameless plug face emojis*