Instagram and I have a love-hate relationship. The taking photos, editing and engaging with others I love. The growing your following part not so much.
There’s plenty of advice out there on how to do it but from what I can see, it’s almost all from people who went from 0-10k in a matter of months. It took me just under a year to reach 1k which is why I thought I’d share my experience as someone who hasn’t had overnight success on this weird and wonderful platform but who’s growing slowly but surely and appreciating the journey.
I’m not going to be sharing my tips for getting more followers or things I’ve found that boost engagement because clearly, I’m no expert. Instead, it’ll be things I’ve learnt along the way and some reassurance for people who, like me, are still a small fish in a very big digital pond.
The cliché – it’s not about the numbers
Firstly, I’ll start by saying that pretty much everyone I’ve ever heard say this has a four-figure following which makes focusing less on the numbers a hell of a lot easier.
I have nowhere near that but it’s still something I’ve tried to make a conscious effort to do over the last few months and it genuinely has made the world of difference.
It started when I switched from a business to a personal account (read about why here). Since then, I’ve stopped posting half as often, made more of an effort to engage than post myself and posted when I bloody well want to, even if it’s at 9 pm on a Friday night and I know it’s going to flop.
The good news is my followers haven’t suddenly disappeared since I stopped focusing on how many of them there are, I’ve just started enjoying Instagram a lot more.
It’s blooming hard work
Even when you’re not focusing on the numbers, maintaining a somewhat active account is still a lot of work. Between taking the photos themselves, writing captions, finding hashtags, interacting with others and creating stories, it can be a full-time job in itself.
I appreciate that several people have started an account not knowing what they’re really doing and suddenly found themselves with thousands of followers and that’s great for them but for the rest of us, it can be a struggle.
Taking a step back as and when it all gets a bit much really helps. It shouldn’t feel like a job so don’t allow it to.
‘Finding your tribe’ takes time
The phrase ‘finding your tribe’ makes me cringe slightly but the sentiment is there. To me, Instagram seems quite cliquey. Not necessarily in a negative way, I just find that there are quite clearly groups of people whose followers all follow each other which is really only natural if you think about it. You’re obviously going to be drawn to the people who create/ appreciate similar content to yours and that’s what finding your people on Instagram is all about.
Worrying that you’re not a part of a particular one is pointless though. Maybe it’s that your content is different or maybe it’s the same but you just don’t click with those people. Either way, that’s fine. Finding yours won’t come overnight. I’m still coming across people every day that I love chatting to and that’s one of the things I love most about Instagram.
Unfollows aren’t personal
The follow/ unfollow game is tiresome. I can’t believe it still happens but it definitely does and the only thing I have learnt to do is not take it personally.
They’re either trying to grow their account at whatever cost or they just genuinely don’t enjoy your content and don’t want to see it anymore in which case do you really want them anyway? What’s the point in having an unengaged follower just for the sake of an extra number?
There’s a very dishonest side to Instagram
Whether it’s people who have bought followers and pretend they haven’t or people who are portraying a life they don’t actually live, I’ve learnt that Instagram is riddled with not-quite-the-full-truths and it’s the part I really hate about the platform.
What’s important is making your feed a positive place to be despite that though. Just like people should be able to unfollow you if they don’t enjoy what you’re posting, you should do the same. Unfollow those who don’t make you feel good and engage with those who do. Instagram is only a source of negativity if you let it be.
Comparison is the thief of joy
By far the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is not to compare myself to others. I still fall into the trap every now and again like most of us do but having a bunch of followers on Instagram doesn’t make you a better/ more successful <insert other adjectives here> person and it shouldn’t be something you use to validate yourself.
What’s your take on Instagram? Is growing really important to you or are you enjoying taking things slowly too?