Instagram is a funny old thing. On one hand, it is just a social platform to send pictures to, on the other, it holds all this importance to growth and popularity, except we don’t always have the full information to take part in the game. For me, I’ve never really got to grips with this need for popularity, I have always liked to do my other thing, whether it gained followers or not, however, last year I got so obsessed with reaching my 10k target, which FYI I didn’t, I’m actually now going backwards.
You see, Instagram holds all the cards, some they let you in on, some they don’t, and with the importance of follower numbers, likes, engagement, reach and all that jazz, curating my Instagram account had become a chore, a hated chore if I’m honest, the pressure to find something to post, something to say, and finding those all-important hashtags, while at the same time presenting my life as more glamorous than the actual reality of me typing this blog post in my PJs, as sadly no one really wants to see that do they!
Then on top of all that I had to find time to do the fun stuff, you know actually seeing all this amazing content the people I follow were producing and engaging with it, as at the end of the day that’s what Instagram should be about, community. But even this had started becoming a chore, with some people sending me DMs to thank me for my comment but that they were deleting because it was only two or three words or I’d used an emoji, because someone, somewhere states that Instagram only cares about 4 word comments and doesn’t like emojis, which FYI hasn’t been confirmed by Instagram, but are you really going to police that to the extent that you delete and then harass people who engaged with your content? Surely that’s not the approach to making Instagram a community.
After the shock wore off at actually being told off for commenting, ‘Nice coat’, to a picture of this blogger in a coat talking about her coat in the caption, it made me realise that I needed to step back from the platform, as there is something quite toxic about how Instagram has changed, now it’s all about fame, fortune, those immediate likes, and the ‘follower to following’ ratio, a practice that actually makes me cringe, and the amount of people that look at you like you’re a lesser human being because you don’t have 50k followers is unbelievable.
I didn’t set out with the intention of taking a month off posting pictures on Instagram, it just sort of happened, I was seeing my follower count drop, I’ve lost around 100 followers in the past month, my likes are well down, and I was noticing that the reach of my pictures was a fraction of my followers, I really did think ‘what’s the point’ if Instagram can’t be bothered to share my content can I even be bothered in creating it.
The first week went by and I felt guilty, worried and anxious that I’d lose more followers, but I still didn’t feel like I had anything to share, then in the second week I realised I’d not opened the Instagram app for 4 days, it was actually freeing, I lived without the pressure of keeping up, counting the followers, checking on who unfollowed, and how many likes I had gotten. I then actually began just using the stories, which I actually love, I like that it can be a little more candid, less curated, and much more fun, and I actually see a lot more engagement with it. I find it funny that people will send a DM quicker than a like or comment on a picture.
Week three came around and I was loving just being a viewer of Instagram, discovering new accounts, which I promise I will start sharing within my monthly round-ups, and old accounts that I hadn’t had time to engage with, and just sharing the love, and you know what it really changed how my feed looked. I was seeing accounts I wanted to see, which in turn was making me more inspired, and it made me realise that without engaging in other people’s content you can’t enjoy the platform, it really isn’t just about your own pretty picture, no matter how pretty it is.
It also made me realise, more on what I want to see, as well as being a curator of a channel I’m also a lover of other people’s content, and I have unfollowed a lot of accounts that I’m no longer interested in, or that weren’t inspiring me, sometimes I find that some accounts on Instagram bring out the green-eyed monster in me, which I don’t like, so I’m taking positive steps for my own wellbeing to just cut them out. That doesn’t mean that their content isn’t amazing, well thought out and beautiful, it just means, for right now, my self-confidence can’t handle it, and if anything else 2018 is going to be the year I think about ‘me’.
I was creeping closer to the month mark and I realised that all the images I’d taken over the past month I loved, I wanted to share, so I started planning my feed, yep, I’ve realised how important it is that the overall look of my profile feed is just as important as posting and engaging, as it’s like my curated snapshot to a potential follower, and no matter what, I still need to keep pushing forward with gaining followers. So, I’ve been using Planoly, I like that you can use it through the app and on desktop, which was perfect as I uploaded a month load of images and then it made it easier to organise them into a pattern, using my core pillars of content – fashion, interiors, food, travel and flatlays, which I promise to share more of as I do love putting them together and it’s a great way to share my current loves.
By having a plan and schedule, it really has cut out me wondering ‘what the hell should I post today’, but that doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind and post in the spur of the moment as well, it just means that I’m prepared, I don’t have to worry about finding a picture that I want to share. I’ve also rediscovered my love of a long caption, I’m kind of using my Instagram pics as mini blog posts, diary entries into my day, as well as sharing inspiration, what I’m loving on TV – I’ve just got Netflix so there is a high amount of binge-watching at the moment and just general thoughts. I really do believe that Instagram is much more than just a pretty picture without a great story to go along with it your followers don’t have anything to engage with. Well, that’s my current thinking.
You know what, a month kind of whizzed by and I feel better than ever, more motivated to post, more inspired to create amazing content, and I do believe that sometimes a break is needed to recharge and to take a step back to really think about what it is your want to achieve, I’ve also deleted my unfollow app, yep, people will still unfollow but unfollowing straight back just seems so negative and that’s not me, so I’m just going to try and go with the flow, have fun, and hopefully people will resonate with my new approach and share the love.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Instagram, as well as discover your feeds, drop me a comment below with your handle or send me a message on Instagram or comment on my latest pic – I’m @fashionistabarbie – I always love to hear what you guys think.