Why I’ve lowered my expectations on Instagram numbers, and why it’s also 100% ok not to feel the same way
The new Instagram algorithm has royally screwed us over. And, if you’re a creator or business, then doubly so. I went from gaining 100 new followers a day, to gaining 5, or sometimes, ending up with less than I started with. Almost everyone I know is in the same boat. If we complain, we’re either greeted with sympathetic comrades, who are feeling the pain, or the age old “IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS”.
I know, I know, it’s not the trendy thing to care about the numbers. We’re all supposed to sit around talking about how we do this because we LOVE IT, likes and followers don’t matter. (While constantly publicly celebrating our follower milestones 🤔😏). But would you keep turning up to work if you didn’t get paid? For those of us who sacrifice a lot of time and effort for our accounts, it DOES matter. When we’ve traded extra time playing with our kids, hanging out with friends and family, when we’ve been sick but pulled ourselves up to take photos anyway, when, although Instagram IS fun, sometimes it feels like any other pressure filled job, it’s a way for us to measure our success. A way for us to say “Hey, all these sacrifices are paying off!” So yeah, when we feel as though barely anyone is seeing the photos we’ve worked so hard to achieve, it hurts. And if you feel that way, you are allowed to feel that way. Let me say it louder for those in the back: DON’T LET ANYONE’S DISMISSIVE ATTITUDE FOOL YOU INTO THINKING THERE IS ONLY ONE CORRECT WAY TO FEEL. Please don’t let people make you feel shallow for caring about your stats. If you were chasing customers for your job, no-one would say “Geez, get over yourself, you don’t need customers, AS LONG AS YOU’RE HAVING FUN AT WORK THAT’S WHAT REALLY MATTERS”.
I personally think the trend to airily say “Oh I don’t even care about likes and followers” is damaging. It tells people that those accounts you admire don’t even need to make an effort, that it all just HAPPENS for them (which I can guarantee, with only the tiniest of exceptions, is a whopping fat lie). I have much more respect for large accounts that admit they do care, that they do put in time and effort, that it does make them mad when that effort goes nowhere.
I’m not saying every person cares about likes. There are many people who are happy to post an occasional pic and interact whenever they have time, which is absolutely fine, but it’s not ok to make people who do care about it feel as though their feelings are wrong.
Some people are trying to get to certain number of followers to be able to review books for publishers. Some of us want those review posts, we’ve put so much effort in to for the publishers, to actually be seen 😏 I have 2 businesses that rely on Instagram and, more followers equals more opportunities/sales etc for those businesses. I could say I care about the numbers because it affects my businesses. True, but not the whole truth. And why should we need to justify why we feel the way we do? The answer is, we don’t. If numbers are important to you simply because you enjoy the feeling that people like your art, or you get to meet more people, or hell, because you like to feel famous, it’s no-one else’s business. The irony of creating a platform that is all about gaining likes and followers, then telling us we can’t care about those likes and followers is just…well.
We’re not talking about our self worth being controlled by the uptick of followers numbers, we’re simply talking about an expectation that intense effort should equal at least a level of gain to keep us from losing motivation altogether.
Up until recently, effort usually equaled reward on Instagram. Time and time again people would ask how I’ve grown my account. I’d always tell them it was because of the huge amount of time and effort I’ve put into it. Now, that seems to not be the case. You can put in all the time and effort you want, and still see zero results. Usually, due to my personality, that would make me ramp up my effort, double down and devote every spare second to it, but….I’m not doing that this time. Why? Because it doesn’t seem to matter what I do, the reward, or lack of it, stays the same. So, I’m trying to accept my follower count might not reach much higher. I still do giveaways because I love doing them, I participate in some SFS sessions, because I enjoy discovering new accounts, but I’m not going to use every spare second of my time trying to work out what Instagram wants this time. Maybe you feel the same? Or maybe you want to go all out and try to smash that algorithm to pieces. Or scream into the void about how frustrated you are. All of those actions are 100% ok.
So, if you’re feeling like your posts are invisible, as though you’re tapping the mic like “hello….is anyone out there..?” this post is just to let you know – you’re not alone. This recent update in the last few months has been the worst I’ve ever experienced. It’s not you. You’re not doing anything wrong. Just keep on keeping on….or don’t…or do something in-between. Jump into your DM’s, make some new friends and chat. It’s all a bit crazy, but know that we’re all trying to make sense of it as much as everyone else!