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Back in 2016, Instagram decided that rather than have you scroll through your feed in reverse chronological order, it would completely change its algorithm to show you things based on data claiming that posts are now seen by 50% more followers on average.
All well in good during normal times. But these times are anything but normal.
Musicians and artists are growing their audience in greater numbers thanks to our not being allowed to leave the house. Many have discovered that in lieu of in-person meetups, their informal and often near-spontaneous livestreams are providing an experience that is at once global and intimate. It is global in the sense that potentially tens of thousands of people can view it. Intimate because you are viewing someone in the comfort of their own home from the comfort of your own home.
Many musicians who would never have been so active on social media are finding pleasure in making such connections. The problem is that many of them don't have an army of social media managers who can show them how to save stories. As a result, even in a short two-month span, a lot of amazing performances have been lost, never to return. If you didn't see it the first time, you missed out.
Far worse than the learning curve of a platform many haven't used to such an extent is the fact that Instagram's random algorithm means there's a chance you'll see a photo of someone's pandemic hair before the video letting you know that such-and-such band will be going live in an hour.
No doubt that Facebook geeks will point out that people should be using Facebook Live for that experience instead of Instagram blah blah blah. At some point, you have to recognize that while you can force users to behave in the way your data suggests is optimal, humans are humans.
Now more than ever, we want a real-time experience. We don't want to check our phones ever five seconds or go to each individual page of the people we follow to see if we've missed out.
What is even the point of Instagram Live if your own algorithm makes it hard to view something live?
If Instagram won't do it for the users, they should at least be mindful of the creative class who are using it as a tool to not only connect with their fans, but make some money in a brave attempt to recoup the revenue they are losing because of canceled tours.
I realize Silicon Valley's opinion of music or any other form of art is that it's just another form of data to collect and not something that is made to enhance the world for the long term, and make human-to-human connections that go beyond a dopamine hit of a like or favorite.
As the world continues to suffer under a global pandemic, perhaps now is the time for all brands to rethink how they think. Because when we do emerge from this crisis, we will remember who was there and who wasn't, who served others and who paid lip service, and who generally had zero understanding of how to communicate to their audience.