Can we talk about Instagram? Ugh, do we even want to?!
What was once my favorite social media platform has evolved into one of the most frustrating, ego-crushing time sucks, yet, at the end of the day, we all want to know how to grow our followers, get more likes and engagement.
It’s not just bloggers who are frustrated either. The popular social media platform’s reviews have gone from glowing 4.5 stars, to a mere 3 stars on their latest version in the app store. With over 700 million users, that’s not a good sign.
I really wish that I was about to tell you about some big secret that would instantly gain you fame and followers, but sadly, I don’t have it. And, if I’m being 100% honest, the past two weeks have been especially frustrating for me over on that platform. There’s been a lot of chatter in our Facebook Group about how Instagram growth is at an all time low. This is insanely frustrating, but in the past two weeks, I’d not only not grown, I’d lost about 100 followers. Talk about a hit to the ego.
On my walk yesterday morning, I was feeling sort of bad for myself, and then I had a lightbulb moment and thought why? Why do I care if people don’t want to follow me anymore? Why do I place so much value in these 100 people? And more than anything, why am I placing so much of my own self worth in this silly app on my phone?! Of course, there are so many more important things to worry about—my health and happiness, my friends and family, starving children around the world! But here I am, beating myself up because my last few Instagrams didn’t get many likes and 7 more people unfollowed me.
I know, it’s all relative and it’s insanely easy to get caught up in—obviously I’m guilty! But, this morning I wanted to share a little bit of encouragement and remind everyone why Instagram really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. By the end of this post, my goal is that you’ll be a lot less concerned with your Instagram follower count and more focused on the things that we do have control over and that really make a difference in the long run!
1. You Don’t Own Your Instagram Account (or any social media asset for that matter)
You’ve probably heard the horror stories of someone getting hacked or having their account deleted, and their are photos wiped clean for no reason. I can only imagine the frustration and devastation that I’d feel after that. Do you think Instagram really cares about your feelings? I don’t see them rushing in to makes things right when this happens, so don’t expect it. The point is, if something like this happens or if Instagram was to go away all together, you don’t have any control over that. You can’t take those followers with you to a new platform, so enjoy them for what their worth, but it’s not the end all, be all.
2. The Algorithm Will Always Change
Just because you’ve finally found a strategy that seems to be working, don’t expect it to last forever. The nature of social media platforms is to evolve and eventually it will. It’s annoying and everyone typically hates the changes, but at the same time, Instagram is running a business and they’re going to do what’s best for them, even if it means upsetting users along the way.
3. It’s Not a Good Long-Term Monetization Strategy
Sure, charging for a sponsored Instagram can seem like an easy and straightforward way to monetize your blog, but this is getting tough too. You can’t guarantee a brand an average number of likes or engagement and I always feel that when the #sponsored or #ad hashtags are in there, my post seems to get de-prioritized and shown to less people. When a post doesn’t perform as well as I expected, I alway feel a huge sense of guilt and typically the brand isn’t super happy either. Blog traffic on the other hand doesn’t fluctuate like this from day to day, and your content has a much longer life span there. So, always recommend doing a sponsored post instead of Instagram and let them know you’ll promote the post on Instagram as well—win win!
4. Shadowbanning is Apparently Real
I still don’t get the point of this, or how Instagram decides what images to display or not display, but apparently shadowbanning is real. And, if you’re wondering if your images are shadowbanned, you can drop them into this website to see.
So, where should you focus your time and energy?
1. Your Blog
We’ve said it once, and it will forever remain true. Your blog should be your main hub, your bread and butter if you will. Why’s that? Because, if you self-host your site (think WordPress.org (you own it) vs. WordPress.com, Blogger or SquareSpace (they own it)), you own that asset. It’s yours for as long as you want it to be. You control the content, the SEO, the look and feel—everything. If you’re trying to turn your blog into a real business, owning this asset is an absolute must.
You may have heard that “blogging is dying”, but it’s simply not true. The internet would literally have to die for blogging to die and I don’t see that happening, well, ever. The landscape of blogging will evolve and how you’re able to monetize your site will likely change over the years, but that’s to be expected. The actual platform where you’re creating content will only change if you make changes.
Search Engine Optimization might sound like a big scary word you want nothing to do with, but it’s time you man woman up and start making your content more SEO-friendly. Building good SEO overtime will help you gain valuable traffic and gives your content a much longer life-span than it typically would. There’s a lot to learn about SEO, but we break it down in our Hobby to Hustle course and walk you through the steps that Jess and I take when creating every single post. Yes, it’s bit more time-consuming, but it’s 100% #worthit.
A few weeks ago, we shared our Pinterest challenge that essentially asked you to clean up your boards. Did anyone do it? This week I actually started going through mine again and deleting more pins that under-performed and in just a few days, I noticed a boost of followers—crazy! The reason Pinterest is so great is that it’s less of a social media platform and more of a search engine. And, if we’re being honest, having tons of followers on here doesn’t necessarily matter. As long as you’re pinning high-quality, relevant pins, you’re going to gain new traffic. I recently was told that I should go back through ALL of my content and schedule everything to be repinned with Tailwind. I haven’t done this just yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens. In theory, this should give some of your older content fresh eyes! I’ll report back soon!
I had a serious love-hate relationship with Facebook, but it brings me a lot of traffic, even though I don’t have a huge following over there. I think this is because of the way people use Facebook. They’re on their to find news and information, so if a blog post pops up on a topic that interests them, they’re very likely to click. If you’re struggling to get new followers, we highly recommend running a Facebook ad to get “Page Likes”. You can do this for very little (think $30-50 a month) and see results!
Facebook ads are a bit tricky though and if you’re going to spend the money, promise us you’ll do it right! We highly recommend checking out Claire Pelletreau’s blog for some killer tips on creating Facebook ads that actually work!
Have you been frustrated with your Instagram account lately as well? Did this help?! What other areas do you focus on for growth?