Organic Reach is Dead -Pay to play

In the Golden Age of the Algorithm the networks have complete control over what you see.

The move to things like Facebook instant articles, and Google’s AMP pages mean that readers may never even reach your site.

Soon they will control all of the traffic, through their paid portals. Is it like AOL all over again?

They have been laying the groundwork for this. Facebook started increasing the mix of friends and family in newsfeeds. They knew this would provide a better experience. Companies were penalised.Their followers weren’t getting their updates. They asked people to make sure to “get notifications” – but no one bothers.

Brands were finding their audience was even less than they thought it was because Facebook was fibbing about the view numbers on videos. Also in Nov 2016, a bug in Facebook showed that organic reach was even STILL lower than that. Your organic reach counted on Facebook includes people who don’t view your entire post.  Less than 5% of page fans see your content.

And no one is clicking! Did anyone ever click on Twitter? This article from 2011 complained about the widespread issue. And nothing has changed.

A natural reaction would be to increase your output. Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner says: Don’t. (The whole episode is great. #134: Preparing for Future Traffic Declines: What Content Creators Need to Know.) Now, he explained, Facebook penalizes companies that are trying to increase the volume of organic reach.

You have to pay to play!

Guardian argued that human “gatekeepers” still hold the key. They act as curators to trawl through the mediocre stew of information, and serve up delightful selections. Yet even now tools like Pinterest can predict what you want. Will you even need to do the curating yourself?

Pinterest uses “deep learning” to analyse the data you have already give it (the pins you pinned). And then it takes that to predict which pins you’ll most likely pin. And it can suggest the board you would like to pin it to.

Here’s an idea. Why doesn’t Pinterest just pin them for me and I’ll sit in front of my computer and watch a steady stream of digital crack cocaine?

Since brands will soon have to pay to play. It would reduce all of my entertainment down to a slow stream of advertisements. How grim.

Why I turned off my IFTTT recipe for auto-posting Instagram to Twitter

Isn’t it annoying that Twitter will show “cards” including a summary and image in your twitter feed when you post most links, but it won’t show images from Instagram links? When you share via Instagram you do have the option to connect several networks and automatically post to them. However when you do, your image won’t be included on Twitter. I always found this annoying when I see others share these updates. I call it a #zombiegram. See? No picture.


At one point, Twitter used to show Instagram images in the main flow of twitter stream, but they turned it off in 2012. Sure, why show media from a competing social network? (Instagram was bought by Facebook in 2012.) So for the last few years people have come up with some work arounds.

If this then that to the rescue?

An obvious solution is to re-post the same image manually on Twitter after you use Instagram (nicer filters of course!) But why does that extra few clicks seem like a giant pain?

Instead you can use an IFTTT recipe. The “If this then that” recipes can be used to set up lots of automated services. It’s a rather cool tool! For example, Get an email if there will be rain in your area tomorrow or Tweet your Facebook status updates.

To deal with Twitter ignoring Instagram images, there are a few recipes that will automatically post your Instagram picture as a native Twitter image, and link to your full Instagram post.

There’s two annoying things about this.

  1. Often users have different instagram IDs from their Twitter IDs. Why this is so is completely beyond me! FYI – If you use the native Instagram share to Twitter it will correct the ID if the user has also connected their Twitter account.
  2. Unless you’re really careful how you write the first characters of your Instagram post, you’ll likely get cropped @mentions and #hashtags.


Still a Zombiegram

My other main problem with this is it means your Instagram > Twitter post is still a zombiegram. I notice that when people I follow on Twitter use either IFTTT or the native Instagram sharing option, it’s like a ghost of a post. All the action is over on Instagram and the Twitter share is merely a residual image.

Unsurprisingly, most of the creative people I follow are heavily focused on Instagram. Being a visual social network, it lends itself to artists and craftspeople. So even though the native images are on Twitter, they still aren’t interacting on Twitter. I interact with the Twitter pics and then I realize the conversation is elsewhere anyway. You would still need to click through to the original Instagram post.

Control what you post

Another strange effect I noticed after I set up IFTTT is that I was limiting posting Instagram as much knowing it would go to Twitter. I’m usually pretty careful about what I post on Twitter or how frequently I post. I worry about “my mix”, because my Twitter feed is a weird combo of craft/marketing/technology. I don’t want to drown people in yarn on Twitter. When I was just sharing on Instagram, I didn’t seem to mind sharing frequently, where I know it’s going to be all craft/nature/travel. Over there, it’s more clear why people are following my posts. On the other hand, I rarely share political images on Instagram.

So here’s a solution! Instead of auto-posting everything you can choose what you post. There are two useful options:

  1. Be more selective. Use the Instagram to Twitter IFTTT recipe where you can use a hashtag to mark which Instagram posts to share on Twitter.
  2. Use Tumblr as an intermediary, so you can select to just share to Tumblr those things you want to post to Twitter. Here’s a tutorial.

The thing is, I don’t think I’m going to use it. I’ll go back to sharing selected images manually. I actually don’t use Instagram as much as I intend to. I don’t pay attention to what is happening on Instagram as much as Twitter, but I’d like to. I like that it’s less spammy, less newsy, and more easy to control what I see. I don’t mind that it is an escape from reality. I like that sometimes.

So for now, I’m turning off my auto-tweeting of my Instagram images, and I’m going to probably be sharing more on Instagram too @nearlythere