How my relationship with Instagram has evolved
I can’t be the only one who thinks Instagram is hard. In fact, I know I’m not the only one.
How do we work with this algorithm?
How do we encourage our followers to engage?
How do we connect our personality with our brand?
How do we not get burnt out trying to keep up?
Today, I want to chat a little bit about how much instagram “strategy” has evolved over the years, the results it’s yielded, and how I still feel like I don’t know what I want to do next with it. You’re not alone.
1. The Carefree Poster
When I started my account near the end of 2015, I just took photos of my lettering against white backgrounds (generally) and shared it whenever I had something to share. Easy peasy.
I used hashtags, I kept captions simple, and paid no attention to when and how often I posted.
And at the beginning, this strategy worked. I had unreal engagement. Almost no followers but the same amount of likes that I get today on a mediocre post, almost 3 years later.
I hit 1000 followers in less than 6 months. But it slowed down after that. Some say the first 1000 are the hardest, but I don’t agree. That was the easiest 1000 followers I ever gained! The next 1000 took me over a year to build up to.
But, it’s become harder to gain followers so quickly due to a pesky thing we call the algorithm.
2. The Planned and Curated Poster
In early 2016, I took Jenna Kutcher’s Instagram Lab course and it really helped me up my Instagram game. Through her course I learned better planning strategies, curating tips, and learned to include more personal stuff in my grid and captions.
This launched a two year long kick of doing my best to curate the “perfect” instagram grid, share meaningful captions, and schedule a whole week’s worth of content every Monday. Usually averaging 12 posts a week.
Let me tell you, it became exhausting and draining. But it produced results for a time and by April of 2018 I’d grown to 4000 followers. Trying to post the “perfect” posts 12 times a week became exhausting, and I simply couldn’t keep up. Plus, this algorithm started to really shift how I needed to do IG to increase engagement.
Something that became frustrating here is that my feed look great, but certain posts I knew I needed to include to “break up” my feed didn’t have high engagement - which messed with my overall engagement. And I started to ask myself: is curating the perfect grid worth sacrificing engagement?
3. The “I can’t care about this anymore” poster
For the past 5 months or so, I’ve lacked a lot of enthusiasm and care for my Instagram feed. I’ve average 2 posts a week, my grid has gone to crap, and I don’t schedule ahead of time anymore for the most part.
How did I get there? Instagram started feeling meaningless and unpredictable and exhausting. It’s hard to try “keeping up” with everyone else’s perfect instagram grids. It’s hard to keep up thoughtful content. It’s hard to predict how a post will do, and it’s frustrating to see a post you were proud of only get a few likes.
One of the reasons I let myself stop caring is this change in attitude: I don’t need to cultivate the perfect grid to gain more followers. My current followers don’t really care what my grid looks like! They care about each individual post, so let’s make them matter and make them worth engaging with.
And you know what? My instagram hasn’t suffered that much. I haven’t gained many followers due to decreased posting, but my engagement is as high as ever (usually) because I’ve included myself in my feed more often, and from my experience people want to see the human behind the business/account.
I think I needed a little “break” from caring so much about how my Instagram does, but I think it might be time for me to come back with a new outlook and get excited about connecting with my IG community again.
AND NOW? I’m not sure.
Something new I’m trying is posting once every weekday, and scheduling it at the end of the work day: either sharing something I worked on that day or work from the past. I’m also trying to share exactly as I please and to forget about how much engagement it receives - I can’t live my life caring about how many likes or comments my instagram posts get.
The purpose for my IG is this: showcase my work and abilities, and connect me with clients and customers. That’s it. It’s not to become the most popular, it’s not to get 100k followers, it’s not to become an influencer, it’s not to have the perfect grid that gets the most engagement. I’m there to share my work and connect with my people. Simple as that. I’m tired of chasing stats and numbers that don’t really matter, and I’m going to chase connection instead.
We’ll see how my next 6 months with Instagram go and if I’ll need another break. ;)
Follow me on Instagram at @jenniferbiancacalligraphy and let’s chat about how you feel about Instagram these days. I have a feeling there are more of you who have walked through seasons similar to mine!