After losing her home building business at the start of the pandemic, Kaitlin Tokar decided to sell some of her vintage and homeware collections on Instagram.
“It went faster than I thought,” he said. Her account, Midnight Tokar Vintage, has nearly 6,000 followers since launching in September 2020 and she has started a second account focused on vintage clothing. Despite having a small following, Tokar, a 30-year-old single mom living in New York City, was able to turn the Instagram store into a full-time source of income about a year ago.
But recently, his ads haven’t been reaching many of his followers and regular customers, as sales have slowed down, reasons he believes may be due to the changes. current on the Instagram platform. “I just don’t see things. … I still get messages after a few months [posting something] like, ‘Oh my god, I didn’t see this coming,'” Tokar said.
He was not alone. As Instagram increasingly focuses on videos and recommended ads in users’ feeds in an attempt to keep up with rival TikTok, some small businesses built on the site is more difficult to reach their students and the percentage of participation, and they say that they are worried. for the future of their businesses. Some small business owners have joined users in the outcry in a Change.org petition calling for “Instagram to be renewed” – which has received more than 300,000 signatures since the beginning of last month . Others raised concerns on the platform in posts and comments.
“I still have my base of customers … but the way Instagram is changing, it’s not sustainable anymore, I don’t feel like I can grow,” said Liz Gross, from 2011 has sold wine. style via her account, Xtabay Vintage. Gross said 98% of his business came from the platform after his brick-and-mortar store closed during the pandemic.
Concerns among small business owners are part of a larger backlash to Instagram’s changes, which some users say are taking away from the app’s photo-sharing legacy and making it harder to connect. to the communities they have invested in building on the foundation. Many users have complained of not being able to see their friends’ posts on their feed, and have increasingly seen ads, posts and Videos (Instagram’s short video answer to TikTok) that may attention or not.
After a wave of pushback last month, including from social media heavyweights like Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, Instagram said it would temporarily roll back some of the updates. Instagram said it will end an all-screen option it tried to match with TikTok and reduce the number of recommended posts in users’ feeds until it can improve its algorithm. pointing out what people want to see. . However, Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri said that videos and ads are expected to remain the focus of the app’s future.
In response to questions about the concerns of small business owners, Anne Yeh, a spokesperson for the parent company Instagram Meta, also said that Instagram is reducing the number of recommended ads in the user feed in response to user feedback. “We know that changes to the app can change, and while we believe that Instagram needs to grow as the world changes, we want to take the time to make sure we get it right ,” Yeh said in a statement.
Mosseri said the move to recommended content is helping creators on the site — which he says will make users more likely to discover something they haven’t already. But some entrepreneurs say that just making sure their posts reach those who choose to follow them is more important.
“I have people writing to me saying they haven’t seen my posts and wondering if I’m still posting,” said Gross, who posts several times a day for his 166,000 students. “Only a small, tiny fraction of those who follow me will see them.”
Determining why posts vary in reach on a given platform can be a challenge. Instagram provides professional users such as businesses and other creators a dashboard that shows how their content looks, including the number of accounts that view and engage with their posts.
Also, Liz Sickinger, owner of Six Vintage Rugs, said that while fans will engage with her content if it pops up in their feed, her posts are currently seen by only 5% of people who followed him.
“As a creator, I regretted the time there,” Sickinger, who started his account selling used rugs four years ago and has nearly 42,000 followers, told and CNN Business in an email. He added that he wasn’t sure if his posts were showing up as recommended content in other users’ feeds, but he said, “I don’t think so because I didn’t post it. many tracks, my growth has really increased.”
Many small business owners are frustrated with the media’s focus on video, saying they need to make a video or Instagram Funny to get their posts noticed, even if they are well-positioned for their products.
“I didn’t get into this business wanting to entertain,” Tokar said. “It takes a lot of time to build that program, and it’s a time-consuming process to get started. I spend hours searching and photographing and cataloging and researching and cleaning and shipping. … That’s a full-time job.”
Accounts can pay to “boost” their posts in order to be seen as a sponsored post in many users’ feeds, which many entrepreneurs now say is one of the ways to ensure engagement with still image. Sickinger said ad spending has doubled in the past year “because organic reach has died.”
For Gross, who said the columns of support have helped him grow over the years, the price now appears to be unfair. “What’s good if you don’t show it [my posts] to the people I paid to come first?” he said.
Businesses and e-commerce are key to Instagram’s future growth strategy, and the app has introduced a growing number of marketing features in recent years. Instagram encourages businesses to use all features of the app – including stories, live, ads and Videos – to ensure followers see and interact with their content. The company also offers training to small business owners on a platform, including in-person events in select cities. According to the parent company Instagram Meta, more than 200 million businesses around the world use its services every month, although there is no specific image for Instagram.
Given the great power of Instagram, it is difficult to stop, both for users and businesses. But some entrepreneurs say they are considering expanding to other platforms as a result of the changes. Tokar said he has started doing some sales through e-commerce sites Depop and Etsy, and is no longer dependent on his store for all of his income. And Sickinger says his “love cure” is the ability to reach out to his repeat customers through an email list.
However, there is no way to easily transfer an Instagram account’s following to an audience elsewhere, and other platforms come with fees and other policies that make it more difficult to sell there than on Instagram.
“I feel like I’m up at night because I don’t know how I’m going to reach people,” Gross said. “I mean, I can start doing Twitter ads. But from the point of view, the effect of Instagram is that every time you have an image that you saw, the loss has a big impact .
Sickinger said: “My business wouldn’t be what it is today without this platform, so I’m very invested in it. I want them to be very clear about who their user is, and I’m not sure they’re doing that. them.