It probably sounds weird that I would be writing a post called why you should quit Instagram when really, I’ve spent the past couple of years working my tail off to grow my account.
I can say pretty confidently that lots of us are feeling the Instagram burn. When most of us got into Instagram, we did so because we felt called to it’s visual medium as artists. We felt like we could be creative. We could share our passions through imagery & get some sort of validation that we were all, in fact, as good as we secretly hoped we were.
We shared images. People commented, tapped the heart button. Our happiness meter went up & we could congratulate ourselves on how worthy our feed was of people’s praise. We felt fulfilled & couldn’t wait to post again & revel in the beautiful cycle of (Insta) life.
Then – algorithms happened.
And suddenly, it didn’t matter how ‘good’ you were at whatever it was you’re doing. It wasn’t about being good enough. It wasn’t about being talented enough. It was all about figuring out the Instagram algorithm & you guys, it was so much- so much frustration, so much exhaustion, so much feeling like I sucked – that I almost quit.it.all.
I think a lot of you feel the same
Maybe I’m making big claims. But I feel pretty qualified to say this because almost weekly I get people reaching out to me because they’ve googled & found this post.
As artists, we were drawn to Instagram because of it’s visual medium & instant gratification. And now that there’s an algorithm to contend with, we’re feeling burned, bruised, hurt & frustrated.
Guess what guys, I have no problem saying this next part at all – my photography, my talent, my skillzzz have actually improved over the past couple of years. They are miles above what they were when I was made a Suggested User. Am I more popular or is my engagement better because of my talent? Nope.
I have worked hard to create an engaged following. I’ve poured my heart into posts. I’ve crafted images I was so darn proud of they could have been one of my children. I’ve been ‘unique’. I’ve been ‘myself’. I’ve worked on being the most genuine me that I could put out into the world & I believe, that’s one of the biggest reasons I felt so frustrated by feeling like my account was slowly drowning a painful death.
If people didn’t like my Instagram, did that mean they didn’t like me?
There are dogs that have a more engaged audience than me. There are DOLLS that have a more engaged audience than me. Since I’m neither a celebrity, dog or doll account, after working for several months on strategic methods of learning the new algorithms & implementing ideas on growing followers & engagement I can confidently say – my Instagram will continue to grow if I follow a strategic method, not simply because I have amazing images & not (unfortunately) because of my charming personality. Those things will help me but they can’t be the end all be all of my Insta game.
Maybe you think I’m crazy. Maybe you are so charismatic & clever, maybe you are so beautiful & talented that you can sneeze & gain 200 followers & maintain 50% engagement. (I’d love to hear from you if that’s the case). But if you’re feeling frustrated with Instagram & it’s literally killing your spirit & making you want to quit, if any of these next items resonate with you & you’re wondering if you should quit, here’s my advice.
Then you should quit Instagram?
YOU BASE YOUR SELF WORTH ON LIKES/FOLLOWERS/ENGAGEMENT
Ok, stop all that right now. If Instagram exploded tomorrow, what would happen? I’m wagering to say – nothing major. No loss of life or limb. Sure, maybe you make some cash from Instagram or maybe you hope to. Heck, I’ve gotten lots of things from a trip to Europe to cold hard cash from Instagram. But if the entire app as we know it ceased to exist tomorrow, I’d still have my camera. I’d still have my family who loves me (real love, not hearts). I’d still have my creative eye & my trained sense of understanding light. I would still be a good photographer & I bet you would still be really, really good at what it is you are doing too. If Instagram is causing you to base your self worth or your worth as an artist on likes, followers or your engagement number, it’s time to step away. I’m more than a number & so are you. You are a talented, creative individual. Not a number.
YOU THINK THE ONLY WAY TO SUCCEED IS THROUGH GOOD IMAGES
MAN, how I wish that were the case!! I long for those days! Need a good image? No problem. I can crank one out in no time. I’m not just tooting my own horn here. I have seen insanely talented photographers (way more talented & miles above me) struggle with growing their Instagram. On the flip side, I’ve seen people who couldn’t care two hot seconds about their images have millions of followers. You guys, just like Facebook, Instagram has realized the power of pay to play. I’m not blaming them. You shouldn’t either. Learn the Insta algorithm, practice, study it, devote all your free hours in your day to figuring it out. Sure, try to have good images but (going back to point #1) if you already have good images & you’re not growing, the problem isn’t your images.
YOU’RE TAKING THINGS PERSONALLY (AKA STOP TRACKING WHO UNFOLLOWS YOU)
I can’t say this enough. Stop looking at who unfollows you. If you haven’t already figured out, Instagram used to be a warm fuzzy space where I got my creative worth bucket filled up every day because people could tell me how great my photos were. Now, it’s a machine. I feed the machine. What it comes down to is this – if you are spending time tracking the people who unfollow you, you are wasting your time on something that will never fulfill whatever it is you need. I follow & unfollow people all the time. I make it a point to never look at who’s unfollowing me because that is time taken away from something productive & creative I could be doing. Why do I care who unfollows me? They clearly weren’t my audience! K byeeeee! If this is a frustrating point of contention for you & you love/hate seeing who unfollows you, please refer back to point #1: Your self worth is not based on Followers. Spend your time on things that will grow your account. Being pissed off about someone who unfollows you isn’t that thing.
YOU’RE NOT TREATING YOUR ACCOUNT LIKE A BUSINESS (BUT YOU’RE EXPECTING TO MAKE MONEY)
If you’ve made it all this way, I assume the real reason you are wanting to grow your Instagram account is because you’d like it to be a source of income. I’m not sure why else anyone would care about amassing lots of followers. But you can’t expect to just magically grow your Instagram account without putting any time, effort or money into it. That’s the bottom line. If you were starting a website, I’d tell you to learn how to blog, purchase a domain, set yourself up with a hosting site. If you were starting an email list, I’d tell you to wisely choose a company that is easy to use, has all the features you need & I’d refer you to a course on learning email funnels. If you planned on making money from Instagram & using the platform to leverage your business (whatever that may be) I would tell you to learn as much as you can & invest yourself into that completely.
YOU AREN’T BUILDING ANY OTHER LINES OF COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
If this post bummed you out in any way or you think I’m totally ignorant & wrong, that’s ok. Writing this post was basically a point of self declaration for me. I have realized that I, personally, needed to stop taking Instagram so… personally. I know I need to be strategic & use it like any other pay to play (or play to play) social media outlet. I also know that focusing all my intention into Instagram is likely not the best use of my time which is why I think we should all focus on other ways of reaching our audience (like email lists) & not toss all our eggs into one social media basket. Figure out where you can make the most impact with your audience & then work hard to engage them there. And may the odds be ever in all our favor!14