Learning To Love Instagram More & Hate It Less
Ever find yourself falling in and out of love with social media? Yup, me too.
Do you ever feel like you’ve walked into the Instagram party too late? You’re ready bust out your best moves but everyone is putting their coats on? 💃
Yep, it’s quite often a tough old crowd on the IG and I think we’ve all been feeling it.
I speak for myself when I say I’m no social media expert and I only have a few years worth of experience to go on, but I count myself as one of those people who has been finding it particularly difficult at the moment.
The more I try and understand the whole thing, the more I see no rhyme or reason as to why things are the way they are - it just is what it is.
Despite those ‘measly’ few years, it doesn’t take a genius to see we all share one very common goal: to grow an organic following to share our passion with; real people who like what we do and want to support us and vice versa.
It’s also quite scary to think that whilst we have the privilege of using social media at our leisure and for our own benefit, we don’t own it.
Oh, the irony! Not sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s rather a lot of us on Instagram and just how much I rely on those little squares became very obvious when the platform went down which I’m sure you remember.
Yep, this post about learning to love Instagram again comes coincidentally after a worldwide outage, which left us social media lovers rendered useless for over 8 hours, generally walking around bumping into stuff not knowing what to do with ourselves.
Scary! A really exciting creative outlet of our time that millions of us put a lot of effort into day in and day out, where a wonderful world of opportunity awaits (sometimes) suddenly felt very vulnerable, didn’t it? Poof! Gone, just like that.
All my hard work never felt so slippery through my fingers. But, let’s not think about that horrific thought right now and let’s get back to the issues I’d been having with Instagram and when/why it changed.
Why I was annoyed with Instagram in the first place: A big, sharp nose-dive in engagement over the last few months made me fed up. My posts weren’t being seen, hashtags weren’t working and it was draining my mental energy and left a big dent in my confidence. It was like all activity just stopped overnight; very hit and miss and because it’s something I know we all put a lot of effort into, you want to know why it’s not paying off!
Getting caught up worrying about follower counts, likes and comments just distracted me from what I really wanted/needed to do and I found myself in a rut. I sat back and blamed algorithms and hoped things would just magically improve (they didn’t) and I knew I needed to change things up somehow.
I blame myself: I lost the love for it big time earlier this year and I blamed everything and everyone but myself. Truth was, I was not fully embracing all Instagram has to offer and I take full responsibility for my drop in engagement - I got lazy.
Yes, engagement is down - big deal. Does that mean I have to sulk, moan or stop what I’m doing? Or learn to enjoy it despite all that because I enjoy blogging?
Just when I was seriously considering throwing in the towel and/or smashing my phone against a wall… I had an Insta-epiphany.
I took option 3: making some small, consistent changes to the way I approach everything and generally being more positive about it all, then I found myself having more fun - weird, huh?
Here’s what I did and how I did it:
I Stopped Using Follower Tracking Apps
Monitoring the activity of followers sounds like a useful thing to do because we all want to know that what we are doing is working, right?
I used ‘Followers Tracker Pro’ for ages and became way too absorbed in the trivial statistics of it and mostly just felt disheartened with the information that was both out of my control and unhelpful (there were people apparently unfollowing me who I’d never seen before in my life - can’t explain that!)
Tracking followers actually proved worthless, putting a dark cloud over my efforts and raising some slight security concerns about how this app was using my account info.
From my point of view, I’m not so sure how the following insights are any good:
Are not following back
I’m not following back
Deleted likes and comments
I’ve found that monitoring my followers was becoming less and less productive the longer it went on and I’d end up taking it personally.
I felt offended if I saw someone had unfollowed me and questioned myself, my goals and wondered what I could possibly have done wrong. I began doubting the quality of my content and for that reason alone I deleted the app.
If we keep things simple, we know those who care will follow and support us no matter what. That’s all there is to it!
I Cleansed Inactive Accounts
I was following a surprising number of non-supportive/active accounts which were clogging up my feed, reducing my chances of seeing accounts I love.
Weighing up what I love to see and my chances of seeing it and ‘cleansing’ my following count helped massively.
I’ve found doing this also helps override whatever cranky algorithm Instagram has going on at that moment in time, gaining a little bit of control back over what you see in your account.
You don’t have to do this too often either, just enough to increase your chances of seeing quality content from the accounts you love and reduce the frequency of posts from non-supportive accounts - this is not including big brands we love, they are always welcome and they are busy bees, so I’ll let them off!.
Good to know: the only practical use I found with a follower app is that it helps identify people you are following that aren’t following you back - that’s all though!
I increased my engagement
I could ramble on about the disappointment that is Instagram engagement all day, but it’s easy to forget it’s much like networking: it works both ways.
Sitting back and grumbling about lack of engagement is one thing and doing something about it is another.
If we’re not putting in the effort from our side, how can we expect the same in return? How are people supposed to know we’re there? Yoohoo - over here!
The simple act of moving around the app more freely, putting myself out there and generally upping engagement from my end has helped me discover so many more wonderful accounts and comment threads that I would otherwise not have ever knew existed; accounts that are now good blogging friends.
I’m not saying it’s a case of ‘you like my picture and I’ll like yours back’, it’s more that we’re all in this together and it should come very naturally to want to mutually grow and support each-other because we want to and because it’s beneficial to all of us, not just for the ‘personal gains’.
I upped my hashtag game
Not exactly a revelation here, but go with me on this. I don’t just mean I used more of them, I made better use of them.
You know all those hashtags we put in our posts? Well, changing them every so often and making them relevant to each post is very beneficial, helps prevents posts from going stale and you can follow tags too.
I’m probably still not following as many hashtags as I’d like to as all these things take time and I don’t want to be seen as acting ‘spammy’ by the Instagram overlords.
Let’s take #ukblogger for example: by following this hashtag I’ve discovered other similar accounts like mine because their posts appear in my feed like regular posts - hi new blogging friends!
This increases your awareness of other accounts you may like to connect with and if others are doing the same, then provided you’ve used that tag they will see you too.
I’ve since come across tons more content that I can enjoy and connect with and this is a good example of how further embracing the features of Instagram can be a very good thing.
Putting a face to my name
I am an actual human, did you know that?
We all love being nosey and putting my round face out there on the Insta-sphere is a great way to inject a bit of personality.
We have the chance to see our favourite bloggers in the flesh (well, sort of) and hear what they’ve got to say, breathing a little bit of life into our grids and enjoying content on a more personal, appealing basis, allowing people to connect on a different level.
As much as we may not like the sounds of our own voices (I definitely am not a fan of mine!) I’ve found that little burst of active content has helped take some pressure off of photo-taking and typing because talking is way easier - even if you’re just rambling like I do!
Since using my stories more regularly, I’ve increased my watch count by over 200 views - not a particularly massive jump, but again it’s a positive change compared to what it was.
Any positive changes that are reflective of something I’ve been doing are all good in my books and and it’s brightened my overall mood about Instagram for sure.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and you’ve found it helpful! I’d love to know what you think, or if you have any other suggestions on how we can all get the most out of our Instagrams or any other social media platforms, then please let me know in the comments! xoxo