The truth about Instagram growth – is there really any? There is no such thing as becoming Instagram famous overnight (unless you are born a Kardashian). Social media has you fooled if you believe otherwise. I’ve spent the last few years trying to decode Instagram and all I can come up with is I missed the boat five years ago that took all my fellow bloggers to the island of 100K.
The first time I was told I couldn’t be successful without Instagram followers was in at a blogging event. “Instagram is where I make $500 just by posting what I tried on in a Target dressing room,” the Influencer said, “If you want to make money, Instagram is where you need to focus on growing your audience. Stop worrying about pageviews, blogs are not relevant anymore.” Her words hit me like a ton of bricks considering every penny I had made up until this point came from Confessions of a Northern Belle, the blog, and not the Instagram account. I love this blog and pour my heart into it, so being told that I had to pour my heart into another platform was pretty devastating.
But… I wanted to monetize Confessions of a Northern Belle, I wanted to be considered successful, so I fell into the Instagram trap.
How to Grow on Instagram
Flashback to May 2016… Growing on the Instagram platform became increasingly difficult sometime around halfway through 2017. Up until then, my followers increased on a steady basis, but I was only at 1K. I googled “How to Grow on Instagram” and the results included: follow/unfollow, enter a giveaway, and links to buy followers here. I was in no position to be spending money, and didn’t quite understand why you would follow and then unfollow someone, so I went with a different idea – follow new people and post better content. I gained 400 followers in one week after adding a bunch of new friends to my list and posting pictures of my family in bathing suits at the beach (nice, right?).
Before I knew it, I had a following of 2K and a brand paid me $25 to post on Instagram. That little bit of money was a lot of money for me, because I was also earning on my blog. Things could only get better from here, right?
My Instagram followers stopped increasing in fall 2017.
My pageviews on my blog also started dropping. And then, that Influencer told me I wouldn’t get anywhere without Instagram, so I decided I had to do something. Back to Google on how to grow my Instagram followers…
Follow/Unfollow: This tedious, time consuming, mindless strategy doesn’t work for engagement, but it does work if you want numbers. Did I make new friends? No. Did my followers increase? Slightly.
Big Giveaways: If you have money to spend, then here big giveaways are a way for your to grow your blog. Giveaways are the EASIEST way to increase followers overnight. Are they good for you in the long run? No… but if all you care about is numbers, then you’re all set. The big giveaways, where you spend $500 for 6K – 10K followers are an absolute rip-off. You will get what you pay for, as well as a bunch of creepers, foreign stalkers, and bots following your account. I paid for ONE $75 International Giveaway where I gained 1K followers and I’m still blocking accounts from it.
I became obsessed with growing on Instagram
What happened next you might wonder? How did I grow from 4K followers to 15K followers in a little over a year? Lots of small giveaways with other bloggers and TONS of engagement with new people. There are Follow Friday loops, engagement pods, and threads on Facebook. And then… the pictures themselves.
Every day it was a fiasco, trying to pick the BEST picture for the day. Keeping up with a color scheme throughout my feed. New clothes, the right props, the best backdrop. I studied other accounts for inspiration and actually watched a YouTube video on “How to Pose.” Looking back on all of this I feel embarrassed of how hard I tried only to end up writing this post.
My Instagram growth has slowed once again, but for once, I DON’T CARE. There is so much stress, so much money spent, and way too much work. All for what? I became OBSESSED with Instagram followers, to the point where I spent more time on my phone than with my family. My self esteem took a huge hit too, as I took it personally when people unfollowed me or didn’t comment on my pictures.
I spent an entire year trying to grow my Instagram following only to be told by one of my favorite brands: “We typically only collaborate with Influencers who have more followers and story views, so we will have to pass this time.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I spent 365 days working to pitch this brand and then I’m told… you don’t have enough Instagram followers.
So what’s the moral of this story? What is the truth about Instagram growth? The truth is… growth is relative and stupid. Success shouldn’t be measured by Instagram followers, but by what you do with the following that you have. Of course every brand has a different opinion about Instagram followers, but engagement is just as important. I landed two of my biggest collaborations at the end of 2018 because of my blog… not Instagram.
What is success to you? At the end of the day is it a growing following on Instagram or being proud of the content you put out there? For me – it is a consistent following of people who love what I write, give feedback when asked, and meeting goals I set for myself.