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So, to make this as brief as possible: last night, Instagram implemented a ton of API changes, brands weren’t prepared for it, and some of the networks that bloggers use to monetize were affected by the change. With the API change, third-party networks can no longer collect certain data from Instagram users. The most significant network that was affected? It was LikeToKnow.It, which is an affiliate program for fashion and lifestyle bloggers.
Yes, I use LikeToKnow.It. Yes, I do make sales on the platform. No, it is not responsible for a good chunk of my income. Affiliate income is great, but it’s always been fickle for me in the past and hasn’t consistently brought in enough for me to live off of. Most of my income comes from sponsored posts, where I receive a flat rate for my work.
I’ve said this time and time again, but if you’re an influencer who’s solely relying on Instagram (or any other social media platform) for their income, that’s probably not the best business strategy. While it’s super hot right now, it’s not a platform that you own, changes can happen at any time, and you always need to be prepared for the shifting social media landscape.
Content Creator, Blogger, Influencer, Etc.
Listen: I hate it when I’m referred to as an “Instagrammer.” I’ve spoken on a few panels and have been interviewed/featured in a few articles in the past, and the focus was on IG. I cringed a bit. I launched my blog (AKA website) back in 2011. I don’t even think I had an Instagram account when I first started my site, and when I finally got around to making an Instagram account, I kept it private for a bit. I launched my website because I loved writing, photography and graphic design. I started to use social media to amplify my blog posts about a year after launching my blog and then learned that each social media platform has a life of its own.
My website has been with me since day one, and I have no plans of neglecting it anytime soon. Is there a huge focus on Instagram right now? Totally, I’ll be the first one to admit it. However, I find that Instagram content has an expiration date: after ~48 hours, a single Instagram post has lost its reach. With a blog post, I can SEO optimize a post, so it shows up in search results for years, share the post on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest however many times I wish, I can throw in as many links as I want, and it holds my readers’ attention a bit longer than an Instagram post would.
I Post Content on 5 Different Social Media Networks — And They’re All Useful
I worked in marketing when I had a 9-5, and eventually went on to manage the social media channels for my company’s media brands. While not every single company/brand needs to be on every social network, each social platform has its own perks. I currently utilize five different networks for different reasons, Instagram being just one of them. On Twitter, it’s easy to have a conversation with my readers and other blog colleagues. On Pinterest, my DIY IKEA Hacks perform incredibly well — and it helps some of my blog posts go viral. On Facebook…well, I kind of hate that algorithm right now, however, if you strategically boost a post, you can get an incredible reach. On YouTube, I can post longer videos, visual travel guides, and fun tutorials. There are some other platforms I’ve abandoned over the years (looking at you Snapchat, Google+ and Tumblr), but all in all, I’ve never relied on just one social network to amplify my content.
By saying an influencer/blogger is just an “Instagrammer,” you’re totally ignoring the fact that they create content on other platforms. The only reason I’ve been able to keep this blog up and running for several years is by utilizng multiple different platforms.
Preparing for What’s Next
I definitely think Instagram is going to be popular for several more years. However, with both the algorithm and API changes, I’m not sure if it will remain the most lucrative platform for influencers after a few years. Facebook isn’t naive — it’s evident to them that influencers and brands are using the network to monetize, and I’m sure they want a piece of the pie as well. There’s going to be some other network that will be the most popular network after Instagram starts to wane in popularity, and I’m keeping an eye out for that new platform at all times. For the time being, I’m putting an emphasis on my email list and consistently updating my website — which are, at the end of the day, the only two platforms that I have total control over.