October 24, 2018

Why Obsessing Over Your Instagram Numbers Is Bad For You + Your Creativity


stop obsessing over instagram numbers

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It’s time to stop obsessing over Instagram numbers…

How many times have you heard (or read) the phrase somewhere lately “My Instagram numbers are just not growing – despite all my best efforts!” This is often accompanied by a wringing of hands, a defeated expression or at the very least, a frustrated eye roll.

Well I hear ya – I’ve been static for months. That number up there in my profile page has ping pong’d back and forth between the 22.3K and 22.4K more times than I’ve had a third coffee by 10:30am. And that’s a lot of third coffees.

I’m no Instagram expert (I prefer to leave that one to Sara Tasker), but it seems fairly obvious to me that the days of coming up with a guaranteed workable strategy to increase those numbers are pretty much over. To my mind, there is seriously no point on focusing on the numbers alone – it feels like a losing game in a battle fought against giants.

And this coming from one who fully recognises that for some brand partnerships, it still has to be all about the numbers.

Newsflash, it’s not you know. It goes far beyond that but that’s a whole other post that I don’t think I have the energy (or inclination) to write at this point.

Also, this coming from one who previously came up with her own strategy, implemented it and then wrote about it. Pre-algorithm I found my posting rhythm (and more importantly, nailed down my creative style) and it worked for a while. My following grew solidly over the course of eighteen months.

But Yep… still done with obsessing over Instagram numbers.


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Whilst my ability to do business (with some brands) may depend on it, I refuse to talk about Insta growth for one more moment.

There are far more important facets that go into keeping OS alive and thriving and I feel way more positive when I focus on the heart, soul and creative stuff.

And after a couple of recent conversations, I know there are others who feel this way too. We agreed that not only is the obsessive monitoring of stats a horrible, life-sucking beast but it will catapult you into the cave of comparison, make you forget about all the good bits and end up stifling your creativity.

The main thing I took away from those conversations was that the Instagram numbers (and blog stats for that matter), don’t determine the success of a business.

I know at least a handful of people who have small but dedicated followings and are running successful businesses with heart at their very core. And they sustain a loyal customer/reader base too.


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And anyway… exactly what does determine the ultimate number of followers? One thousand? Two? Ten, fifty… or are you going for the three figure goal? Because I’ll bet you a big ‘ol bunch of peonies that when and if you reach it, you’ll soon be focusing on the next target.

How many is ever enough?

I fully admit I used to have lofty ambitions of having a three figure Insta following but for what? So I can say I have a three figure following? It was only when recently I used the phrase “building a community within a community” on this post that the penny finally dropped.

It’s not about the number of your followers, it’s about who they are. The conversations you have with them. Why they follow you in the first place and what you give them. I don’t follow someone because of how many followers they already have – I follow them because I like their content. And I’ll bet that your followers are with you for the very same reason.

For me it’s also more about what I get out of the whole Instagram process in terms of creativity and connection.


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I mean lets stop for a minute and focus on the pluses of Instagram and in particular, the creativity bit…

I am NOT a photographer. I am not artistic. It can take me a while (read: I procrastinate A LOT!) to get on board with the latest tech development/next big thing. So if you’d have told me three or even two years ago that I could create a grid of images that look like mine does now, I’d have laughed myself right off my Eames chair. I don’t have an Eames chair by the way but if I did, I’d be Instagramming the bejeepers out of it for sure.

Instagram has taught me about the appreciation of aesthetics… and not just my personal preferences but what other people like and how they go about creating too.

It’s taught me about photographing in the right light and how I can take really good pictures with just my phone. It’s got me using a plethora of editing tools to fine tune the tones, light and shade in the photos I take, meaning I can create a consistent grid of beautiful images.


I ‘ V E  R E A D  T H I N G S  T H A T  M A K E  M E  S N O R T  W I T H  L A U G H T E R  A N D  C R Y  B I G  F A T
T E A R S  O F  S A D N E S S . . .


And on that grid I can express myself, connect with like minded others, read things that make me snort tea out of my nose with laughter or cry big fat tears of sadness.

It’s connected me in real life with a handful of women who I now call my friends and who inspire me on a regular basis. They’re supportive and nurturing – you find a lot of those people on Instagram.

Together with blogs, it’s inspired me to pin down and nail my true style both in terms of dress and living. I’ll fully admit it’s lead me a merry influencer dance up the garden path at times before – I don’t know any influencers who haven’t found themselves influenced at some point. But now I’ve learnt to stop, recognise it, reign it back in again and focus on what truly suits me or our home.

And I think all of that too forms an important part of the creative process.


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Where else can you scroll beautiful images (whatever beauty means to you) and have meaningful conversations with hundreds or thousands of people? For free?

Want to find your tribe? Come over to Instagram and get hashtag search savvy on whatever subject it is that floats your boat.

Want to help support your business that you grew all by yourself and find a way to get your message out there? Hey Instagram… pleased to make your acquaintance!

Focusing solely on the numbers makes you forget all the good things about the platform.

And I think to be in that place wouldn’t be much fun at all.


So much has been said about Instagram and social media in general of late and I think it’s a very good thing that these conversations are happening.

But I’d love to know what you think.

Do you use if for business? If so how do you deal with the numbers game?

Or do you just use it for fun and inspiration? And is it still delivering that for you?


On a completely unrelated note, it’s half term school holidays so this post is it from me this week. I’ll be back next week and if you’re taking a break with the kids or continuing the work juggle, I wish you luck on all fronts!

Much Love,
Amanda xx

 

 

 

16 comments on “Why Obsessing Over Your Instagram Numbers Is Bad For You + Your Creativity”

  1. Absolutely nailed it as usual Amanda! If it wasn’t that I’ve promised myself not to judge my own posts and self described inability to get my message across, I’d be in the depths of despair. But taking encouragement from your wise and honest words I’m going to enjoy the aesthetics and engagement and sheer contact of instagram to a world and people with whom I otherwise wouldn’t come into contact. Thanks so much! Brightening my day

    1. Thank you so much Tamsin and I’m so glad it echoes what you’re already feeling. The minute numbers come into play in my head, I find a whole other barrel of unwanted feelings get released out into the open too. It’s just not worth it. Keep on enjoying the creativity and connection and have a wonderful rest of the week!
      Amanda xx

  2. Well, your timing could not be better Amanda! I reached my first 1000 a few days ago and then it promptly dropped again. Yes, it was a little disappointing but over the last 6 months, I’m having more genuine conversations with fellow Instagrammers. I enjoy this engagement more than collecting numbers, These tend to go up and down like a bride’s nightie, and will steadily grow but the its the conversations that last.

    1. Penny – “up and down like a bride’s nightie” is possibly the best way to describe this – love it! Collecting numbers is soulless at the end of the day and we have to remember there are so many follow/unfollow bot programmes at play too so the movement isn’t even from real people half the time. Who wants to obsess over bots?? Well done for focusing on the positive conversations and connections instead – those are the ones that lift us more at the end of the day!
      Amanda xx

  3. Could not consume this post quick enough! You have so eloquently articulated my every thought on the subject. I get it, that numbers will always be important for some big brands but my business goals right now are very much to get off the grid and into real life.

    I love the connections you make via Instagram and like you, I’ve discovered my own style and can admire beauty from afar, but there will still be nothing like real life relationships.

    With a small and loyal following, I’m increasingly feeling less and less significance of growth of numbers and focussing on growth of how much more I give and nurture those who are following me.
    Another great post A!!

    1. We are so on the same page Laura and thank you!! I too get that numbers have to play a part (in so many ways), I just think they have this knack of making us lose sight of (as you say) the real stuff and value in connections. There is so much value to be had in a smaller loyal following – especially when they’re your tribe too! onwards with nurturing and valuing! xxx

  4. Great read Amanda, you have to take solace in the quality of your connections on Instagram or it will drive you nuts. I see so man down hearted captions. What are we chasing. Instagram can’t be THE THING. Although I wholeheartedly agree, it has been a great platform for me to develop my photography skills . Hxxx

    1. So true Helen! I’m so with you on the fact that its a wonderfully creative, connective platform but its no way the be all and end all! And any platform that can help me improve my imagery skills or inspires me to do so is brilliant!
      Amanda xx

  5. Love this! Reminds me of my sales career days when management was so focused on all the numbers and metrics and I kept screaming that they didn’t matter. When you show you care and take care of customers, they take care of you back and the numbers follow.
    I am beyond tired of social media stats and numbers. I’m over it because it is soul sucking.
    I’m committed to living my life and scrapping all the numbers and comparison crap. I’m done and over it.
    Thanks for sharing how you feel. 🙂

    1. Yes Michelle! Exactly that. It’s like the baseball pitch in Field Of Dreams! “If you build it… he will come!” I had that line in my head over and over as I was writing this post! Raising you my coffee cup to the commitment to living life and not being tied up by numbers!
      Amanda xx

  6. I’ve given up on the numbers – and I say that as someone with fewer than 400 followers! I’m seeing it as a repository of photographs of my dog – and I enjoy scrolling through his feed! I’ve seen some dog IG accounts, with 20,000+ followers, linked to blogs that are absolute shockers in terms of poor writing and content, so I think the numbers game certainly doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality!

    1. I completely agree with you Sarette – quantity isn’t always an indication of the quality. And also Instagram should be what we want it to be about… and if that’s pics of dogs then I’m in! Biscuit would agree! xx

  7. I loved this post. You are so right. It is tiring to concentrate on just the numbers and you do end up comparing yourself. Totally agree about it is more important to have great engagement with the community you do have, no matter what size it is. I use instagram mainly to post outfit photos and I love it, but I do sometimes get disheartened when photo’s don’t do well – I find it hard to understand why and I also think time of day really affects engagement on Instagram now, which is so frustrating. I always post in the morning now as they do much better xx

    1. Thank you Lauren and so glad to hear! I think everyone falls prey to comparison no matter what stage they’re at, because lets face it, wherever we find ourselves, there’s always another stage on isn’t there? It’s hard to tell why some photos do better than others and I think there are so many factors at play beyond our control (Hello Algorithm!) that it seems futile to attempt to beat it. Keep carrying on and keep enjoying it! Amanda xx

  8. Love this Amanda it really resonates with me. I’m growing slowly and try not to focus on the numbers too much although I think we all enjoy receiving all those likes don’t we? I’ve been contacted recently by a few influencer agencies and when I tell them I’m just a private account and don’t have any stats they don’t want to work with me! I’m not sure where this little app is taking us, but for now I enjoy being able to share the stuff I create and love chatting with a lovely bunch of like minded souls x

    1. Thanks Helen! I think the whole “likes” thing will always be a source of validation for us humans and I agree – when the likes come in, it’s pleasing of course. But when that alone is the focus it becomes destructive. I do get that agencies would need to see stats in order to justify their spend but depending on the size of the brand (and their budget) there’s also the getting the word out there factor in general too. And when thats done by someone who creates gorgeous content, whilst it’s hard to place a value on it, I think there is definitely value to be had. But keep creating and connecting and enjoy it – do it for you, not anyone else!
      Amanda xx

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