How To Fall In Love With Instagram & Craft Your Own Community
2018 marks the year I seriously fell out of love with Instagram. My constant decline in followers has knocked my confidence so much and as much as I wish it wasn’t the case it is, and I know it’s not something I'm alone in feeling. And it’s taken me months and months to feel like I could happily go on the platform and use it the way I used to, whilst I realise these statements might sound a little dramatic they’re sadly true. In around September, I decided enough was enough and I’d go back to basics, try and stay away from the numbers as much as I could as and it’s made me fall back in love with those squares and this is what I’ve done.
FIND YOUR WHY
A question that I’ve never really asked myself when it comes to Instagram is why I use it? I started my profile in 2011, the app hadn’t been around too long, it was something that everyone had started using and it was simply a photo diary for me and it stayed that way for many, many years. Until it became a part of my income and that’s when I really started to care about it, I curated my feed so carefully and got so sucked into the numbers and that’s the way it’s continued until now. I absolutely adore sharing photographs of my life and things I enjoy but when you start seeing the numbers go up or down then it’s easy to let it get to you mentally. Even when we know that we shouldn’t, it's way easier said than done. For me, my why is to share things that bring me joy and to share things that I think might be of use to somebody else. Chasing huge numbers is not something that I’ve ever strived for and even though I would love to reach a wider range of people harbouring my own community is my number one priority.
UNFOLLOW ANYBODY WHO DIDN’T BRING JOY TO MY FEED
One of the biggest things for me, in any online space, is that I don’t follow anybody who doesn’t bring joy to my online world. I don’t need to see any unnecessary negativity or anybody who makes me feel rubbish about myself because that’s not the point of social media for me. And even when it is part of your job, the beauty of it is you can choose your colleagues essentially, there’s no need for drama and negativity. It’s so easy to fall into a negative trap with social media and there is often a lot of guilt attached to certain accounts and why we follow them. But ultimately, social media is a choice and we should be able to make smart decisions about who we fellow and how we feel when we view their feeds. And something else I’m a big believer in is not overloading yourself with other people’s lives, I love having a good amount of people to follow but I want to be able to get to know who is behind the feed and not just be a number. Although following thousands of people may work for some it’s just a little overwhelming for me.
CLEANED UP MY EXPLORE PAGE
It’s nowhere near as easy to follow and find new accounts as it used to be, which obviously leads to a lot of frustration for people trying to grow but people who want to find new accounts. The biggest thing for me was cleaning up my explore page by utilising the ‘see fewer posts’ like this option which I believe is in the top right corner of any post. By doing this it started showing me fresh content in different genres and I discovered far more new accounts than I have in the past year by doing this. The explore page is something that people I find either really utilise or completely ignore but for me, it’s been a great new way to use the app.
STARTED AN ACCOUNT FOR JOSIE & EDIE
After much deliberation at the beginning of the year I created an account for my two sighthounds, Josie & Edie. It was something that I’d contemplated for a while as they’re hands down my favourite thing to put on my account but I know not everyone shares the same love for dogs that I do. So I made an account, it was just for fun and it’s been one of the biggest reasons why I use the app these days as the dog community, for the most part, is an incredibly positive place to be. Through the dog's account I’ve connected with so many people and learned so much about the breed that I wouldn’t have known without it, it’s also opened up an entire world of small businesses to me too. Whilst I’m sure there are plenty of people out there just simply chasing likes and numbers but for the most part, a lot of people just use the app for fun and to talk to other dog owners and it reminded me of the most important thing about Instagram. A sense of a community is something that I’ve longed for as long as I’ve been online and I feel like that is something that we all crave, people to connect to who are on the same wavelength with us. After all, it is called social media…
PUSHED MYSELF TO MAKE CONVERSATION
Something that I’ve mentioned time and time again is that I’m a pretty shy person, in real life but also online and that is not something that bodes well for social apps. Making the effort to leave comments and reply to people’s Instagram stories is something that I really did find quite difficult at first. I was worried that people would think I was weird or that I wasn’t saying the right things and not once have I ever had such an encounter to warrant such worries but it’s still there. Being a silent viewer isn’t a negative thing as even just a simple like can mean the world to someone but leaving a comment and making that connection means more. At first, I started small and challenged myself to leave one comment minimum a day and then slowly built it up over time so that it just became part of my normal activity on the app.
GET OUT OF YOUR BUBBLE
When you’re in a certain thing then it’s all too easy to only consume that and although it can be good I often find there are more negatives that come from being in your own like-minded bubble. Obviously, following people who are completely opposite to you isn’t the wisest idea but following people who have somewhat of a different lifestyle to you is something that I've to be found so important. Not only does it open up your mind to how others may do something but I find it absolutely fascinating too. This is another reason to clean up the explore page as it might show you something that you hadn’t thought about following before but instantly fall in love with their feed.
THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN YOU’RE FEELING BLUE ABOUT INSTAGRAM
We’re all worth much more than the numbers on the screen.
No-one ever shares the whole picture.
We all have something of value to give to the world.
Never be afraid to unfollow or mute.
Share what you’re actually passionate about and not what you just think will get a lot of attention.
The algorithm is completely out of your hands but the content you share isn’t.