Perception, shady Instagram growth tactics & number obsessing…enough already!
So much has been said about the downside of Instagram of late that I hesitated to add my thoughts into the already seething pot if I’m totally honest.
It feels sad to think that many people have fallen out of love with it. The stark mechanics and niggles of it all seem to be sapping the creativity out of the whole process for lots of people I know.
Specifically I’m seeing chatter about the perils of portraying a seemingly perfect life, the curse of the almighty algorithm, the icky uncomfortable subject of shady Instagram growth tactics and more recently, the “Is it a real thing or isn’t it?” practice of shadowbanning.
Shadowban. Hhmm… sounds like something menacing, dark and mysterious from a Sci Fi movie. I’m wondering if it involves Keanu Reeves in a black leather trench coat kicking some serious Instagram butt?
If you’re after a sensible view and explanation on what a shadowban is (or might be), read this from Me & Orla. And there’s this post on the algorithm too. In my opinion, this woman is the Instagram oracle and has a very healthy and informed attitude to all of it.
In order to get over my own Instagram love affair blip, I think I just need to get a couple of things off my chest and move forwards.
Forwards in the hope I can rekindle all those good feelings again. So here’s my views on a couple of the points mentioned above…
Instagram Makes Me Feel Bad About My Life…
In the beginning, before I really began to understand how Instagram was being utilised by life and style bloggers, I too could have easily fallen into the trap of thinking that everyday, a perfectly tanned women of perfect proportions was enjoying the perfect coffee.
On the perfect marble table. In the perfect city. With of course, the perfect handbag, artfully placed just in shot.
And then as a blogger, I started paying attention. I read stuff. I consumed hints and tips post on editing.
I was simply being
attracted my tribe…
I worked out why I was following so many beautifully curated minimal accounts. Or accounts that exuded positivity, happiness, coffee and marble. I was simply being attracted to my tribe.
I found different tribes I liked. In amongst all the “perfect” I found warm, funny people who I felt a connection with. All through the power of 3×3 imagery.
I also understood that anyone who writes a life or style blog and particularly as a business, will use Instagram as a curated gallery. If that’s you then good for you! I think this is a REALLY good idea.
A) it makes me feel positive (not envious), when I see aesthetically pleasing imagery and B) I understand that it might help the purveyor of said imagery to make some money from their blog business.
Good. Good and Good. This is women (and lots of men too), being creative and entrepreneurial. And we salute that don’t we??
But if this kind of Instagram feed bothers you because you don’t like perfection and prefer the normal everyday, the random, the gritty and the unedited there’s a gazillion accounts out there for you too.
That’s what the Follow and Unfollow button is for.
There should also be a Don’t Presume button because (and I don’t know how many times I will say this before I’m done), anyone only ever shares as much as they want you to see on social media. Even the true nitty gritty sharers may be holding something back. They may not. I don’t presume to know.
Thats all fine with me. I don’t lose any sleep over it.
The Shady Instagram Growth Tactics game…
Oh my god the numbers! Stop with the numbers! I thought I’d escaped the numbers when I left finance.
With Instagram AND blogging, we need to STOP focusing on them and heres why.
My blog traffic volumes are nothing like what the big hitters might attract. But there’s a place for us both to make a living out of blogging.
Admittedly I won’t earn the big bucks that said big hitter may earn per sponsored post. But there are other ways to supplement your income as a blogger. Some of these only show themselves as possibilities after a few years in the game (if you’re me), or if you’re a smart cookie, you can go and seek them out for yourself much earlier.
My advice would be to to work hard on your blog, your mailing list too and invest some time in your other social media platforms as well.
Not all. Just the ones you like or that seem to work for you. It all counts towards the whole package that you can offer a brand when either pitching or responding to a sponsored content proposition.
When it comes to Instagram (definitely a platform I LOVE!), my follower numbers may not (and never be) huge but with that comes other benefits.
You can focus on and
enjoy, the engagement…
For starters, if you don’t have a gazillion followers who mostly leave one word or solely emoji based comments then you can have actual (and meaningful) conversations.
(Insert thumbs up emoji here for that).
You can focus on and enjoy the engagement. Thankfully brands are looking at engagement as well as numbers now. Us Micro Influencers are increasingly well thought of and brands are cottoning on to our positives.
They like that we can produce aspirational imagery, write engaging captions. And have conversations with our followers.
But (and here’s where I could let off a whole stream of swear words), for goodness sake don’t buy followers and likes. Because it comes down to something as simple as this. It’s a lie. And liars ALWAYS get found out in the end.
The tide is
By upping your numbers in this way, you may be getting the brand buy in right now and making some money. But the tide is slowly turning.
What will you do when brands see those bots for who they are? Or when Instagram eventually cracks down and weeds out all your fake followers and comments?
You’ll have to do what the rest of us have done. Do it properly.
I don’t write posts to provoke an argument or antagonise. I’m the least argumentative person you’re ever likely to meet in all honesty. But I do feel strongly about this.
And it was an email I received last week that incensed me and became the deciding factor in adding my thoughts into the already seething pot.
The “helpful” email sender was selling me the big three:
Help with hashtags.
Thanks, I’m a hashtag demon. Already figured that one out for myself.
Automated Likes and Follows from my account.
Apparently if I let them
fake like auto like a gazillion pics on my behalf then I might get a like back too. No thanks.
And my favourite…automatic likes whenever I post.
Read fake likes. Lots of them. The word fake not ringing any alarm bells yet?
But the fake icing on the fake cake (and now I’m starting to sound like Trump for gods sake!), was that they tried to suck me in by saying that whilst I upload great pictures, I don’t get much attention from other users. Apparently I’m having problems with my account and am missing out on HUGE potential.
I’m not totally vain or stupid. I know this was a circular email and not personally intended to cause offence but boy did I take some! Not with the person writing it but the fact that this is what it’s all come down to.
Wouldn’t it be great to focus on Instagram
as a creative outlet?
Wouldn’t it be great to go back to focusing on Instagram as the creative outlet that supports our blogs and sometimes, might be one of the things that helps us to secure a really good, well fitting brand collaboration.
With a view to that, I totally support and encourage anyone to grow their audience. Properly. It feels a lot more rewarding, despite the slower progress.
There you go. I have purged my soul of its Insta woes and to quote Rachel Green in the early days – “…and that my friend is what they call closure!”
Just so we’re clear, I’m not actually breaking up with Instagram. Just like Rachel never really broke up with Ross. I’m just giving myself a pep talk, gaining a little perspective and carrying on regardless.
Later on I’ll be sharing with you a few simple things I’ve learnt that helped grow my own following from 7K+ in October 2015 to the 17K+ that you see now. Rocket science or shady tactics not required.
Persistence, passion and perseverance a must.
What do you think about all the negative chatter and shady Instagram growth tactics? Are you on a break or will you just carry on regardless and let it wash over you?
And are you impressed with how many Friends references I squeezed in there?
As a thank you for making it to the end of my somewhat ranty post (if indeed you did make it this far!), I have an exclusive Online Stylist discount for Daniel Wellington who kindly sent me the watch featured in these shots.
Just enter the code ONLINESTYLIST15 at the checkout to obtain 15% off anything at Daniel Wellington. The code is valid until 31 May 2017 and they offer free worldwide shipping.
Time to shop!
STYLE CREDITS: Kate Spade Laptop Case | Sunglasses – Topshop | Paper Porcelain Espresso Cup – Hay | Limited Edition Lip Palette – CHANEL | Grey Agate Siren Stacking Ring – Monica Vinader c/o | Personalised Notepad – Love Give Ink c/o | Pen – Kate Spade | Classic Black Cornwall 40mm watch – Daniel Wellington c/o | Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Camera