Editorial Note: I posted a short thread about why RAVE is leaving Instagram to my personal Twitter page yesterday. However, I wanted to share more detail on the core ideas behind our decision. So this article was born.

Basic Background

As the leader of our marketing firm/advertising agency I continually look for exploitable thought gaps, specifically in areas where the common wisdom is pushing the opposite direction. I look for the start of trends, not the end of them.

At RAVE, we often see small to midsized brands focus too heavily on flashier looking marketing tools like leased media (social media platforms in particular) when they should be doubling down on their owned media properties instead.

I know that algorithms are broadly killing off organic views of our social media posts. Their goal is to get us to pay for placement in people’s feeds. As a result, social media doesn’t account for a material amount of real visitor traffic back to our main site. And getting new visitors to our site is far more important than vanity ‘likes’ on an image from either long time followers or random people who saw our post because we used a smart hashtag.

For several months I have been wrestling with why we are providing social media companies with copious amounts of content when we see next to nothing in return. Likes, shares, and positive comments feel great at the moment but are fleeting and don’t move important business needles for us. Those free and easy actions create a false emotional reward for both the giving and receiving parties. The more I thought about this conundrum the clearer the solution became.

We need to stop feeding their machine and feed ours.

Leaving Instagram

With that in mind, we’re leaving Instagram in favor of sharing photo-based (and some short video) content on a special photo stream page of our own site.

As a start, we are moving all our old Instagram posts, which date back to 2013, over to the new photo stream page. In total, this means republishing more than 420 Instagram posts as mini blog articles. Some of these are only a line or two while others have a couple paragraphs of text associated with them.

As part of this effort, we are also linking up these image posts with other relevant internal posts and pages. This is something we could not do natively within the confines of the Instagram platform.

Business Case and Conclusion

By focusing on publishing more content to our own site, even short form and photographic content, our SEO should see improvements along with faster overall organic site traffic growth.

This is critical because new clients never say they found us via an organic social media post. Instead, it is always (if not a referral) through a Google search for marketing firms or ad agencies. That’s the nature of our business. But it will not be universally true for all industries or segments.

As a result of this change, we will immediately add more than 400 unique new pages and images for search engines to catalog. Not to mention dozens of new and improved site keywords. Some of the old image posts can be linked to both internal pages and external sites, which will help our domain and page ranking and should ultimately provide more backlink traffic opportunities.

This is definitely an experiment and one that could fail spectacularly. But no matter how leaving Instagram plays out for RAVE, actual mileage will vary for other businesses and industries. For some of our clients continuing to be hyper-focused on social media is the right play, based on their audience, products/services offered, etc. For others, it may be time to shift energies to digital properties they own.

In either case, this experiment will provide valuable information that we will use for our business and clients.