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Time to Prepare for the Death of Instagram

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“Resorts that depend on Instagram will get wiped out…”

Over the last five years, Instagram has driven billions of dollars in free traffic to websites around the world.

From makeup stores to luxury dude ranches, companies of all shapes and sizes have cashed in on what is the #2 most downloaded app in the US

Sadly, all good things must come to an end.

History Repeats Itself

If you were in business in the late 2000s, odds are you experimented with SEO.

With the promise of top Google rankings – and thousands of “free” clicks – few business owners made it past 2010 without dabbling.

And why not?  All things considered, SEO was easy back then.

Ok, maybe it wasn’t “Grandma could do this…” easy.

But for someone who knew their way around a computer, SEO pre-2012 was pretty darn simple.

Buy links.  Post content.  Optimize your tags.

And then Google Panda came out.

It’s Already Happened Twice

In February of 2011, Google rolled out its very first Panda update.  The goal?

Reduce how many “low-quality sites” appeared at the top of their rankings.

Translation:  Make it harder for marketers to get “free” traffic.

As we all know, Google is a for-profit corporation.  Meaning, they’re not in the business of sending companies free eyeballs.

And over the past eight years, getting “Top 10” Google rankings has only gotten harder.

Meanwhile, their ad revenues have soared.  To the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

Search engines, however, aren’t the only ones hungry to capitalize on the eyeballs they control.

Remember Facebook?

Similar to SEO, few businesses escaped the past decade without setting up a Facebook Page. And for good reason…

Seven or eight years ago, you could post to your Page and get dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people to click your links.

These days, experts estimate just 2% of the people who’ve “Liked” your Page will even see your posts (let alone click them).

Sound familiar?

It should.  Because Facebook employed the same exact strategy Google did.

Hook ’em, Force ’em

Step #1 – Achieve mass, widespread adoption.  Become the go to website / app for ________.

Step #2 – Get businesses hooked by sending them billions in free traffic.

Step #3 – Slowly but surely turn the traffic tap down, sending businesses into a panic.

Step #4 – Threaten to kill the traffic tap entirely if companies don’t pony up some cash.

The End is Upon Us

For better or worse, Instagram is currently passing through Phase #3.

With companies worldwide now addicted to the free visibility they’ve been getting, Instagram is turning the tap down.

We saw it happen with Google rankings in 2011.  And we saw it when Facebook stopped showing your posts to your Page’s followers around 2013.

And in case you didn’t know, Facebook owns Insta.

Which means…history is about to repeat itself.

The Clock is Ticking

No one knows how much time we have before Instagram gets greedy.  Similar to how Facebook phased out organic reach over time, odds are Insta will do the same thing.

In fact, they’ve already started.  As early as last year, page owners with large followings began seeing a drop in their numbers.

Given this, retreats, ranches and resorts that depend on Instagram are at risk of being wiped out.

How to Fight Back

Unlike the business owners who got side-swiped by Google, however, this time we know it’s coming.

The question isn’t whether or not Instagram will “die.”

To this day, no mainstream platform has ever truly “died.”  As an example, email, SEO, and even direct mail work perfectly well.  They’re just not as easy, sexy, or effective as they used to be.

Which is exactly what will happen to Instagram:

Over the coming months and years, your posts will get less and less engagement.

The one – and only – way around this?

Pay to Play

As we all know, mega-traffic platforms have no problem giving you as much visibility as you want…

…assuming you’re willing to pay for it.

Doesn’t mean Instagram is actually “dying,” as the organic gravy train will continue to plug along for another one or two years.  However, it’s the retreats and resorts which master paid advertising that will reap the benefits long-term.

The good news?

First, organic reach on Instagram – as of today – is still dramatically higher than the reach most Pages see on Facebook.

Meaning, there is still plenty of money to be paid without jumping into advertising. However…

With the right strategy, paid advertising can return two, five, and even ten dollars for every one dollar you put in.

But that’s a conversation for another time.

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