One Whole Year & Still No Idea (what I've learnt about Instagram after a year).
Updated: Mar 17
When you first set up an Instagram account and your finger hovers over the ‘Share’ button you are pissing in the wind. There’s a whole world of hashtags, Follow Fridays and influencer etiquette for you to get your head around. I’m by no means an expert; there are accounts that started way after mine and are smashing through followers (hello @emswells), but I’ve learnt a little bit along the way and thought I’d share it for any one even thinking about swimming in these engagement infested waters.
1. # # #
Hashtags are the lifeblood on which the Insta algorithm feeds. You gotta do your homework, scroll your favourite account’s posts, note down the hashtags they use and use different ones each day. Save them in your phone so you can easily copy and paste them. But also write them in a notebook, or risk accidentally deleting them from your notes and damn near crying at your desk when you realise you have no back up. Oh, and if you really want the followers to roll in, host a hashtag; us instagrammers love that shit.
2. Tell Me A Story
Someone much wiser than me once told me to just get talking on stories. I did. I hated it. I’m kind of used to it now. But it gives people an insight into the real you. Don’t listen to your husband when he points out the weird habits you have when you’re talking because it will make you very self-conscious. But yeah, stories; just do it!
3. And I will Follow You...
Followers are awesome. They’re the reason you can do what you do on Instagram, otherwise you’d just be a weirdo waffling to your self. But they will come and go. There will be weeks where you’re stuck at the same number, edging closer to the next level and then dropping back down. Try really hard to remind yourself it doesn’t matter. When you turn the app off and exist back in your actual life, your friends and your family will still be the ones cheering you on and loving you. They won’t ever just unfollow you, because they know who you really are, not just the Instagram version, and that’s what truly matters (cheese alert).
4. Get Off Your Phone
People will get pissed off at how much time you spend on your phone. Make peace with it. But also try not to let it become your new face (isn’t that right QueenieMax)?!
5. Comparison Really is the Thief of Joy
Like I said, there are accounts who started after me that have way more followers. Which on hormonal days makes you think you’re not as good. You will compare yourself: your content, your captions, your likes, the whole Instagram shebang. I’ve no advice. I still do it. Those mega accounts that you drool over? They do it too. No-one is teflon-coated against comparison. Just make sure you follow lots of accounts that inspire you and lift you up so when the self-doubt hits, you’ve got the armour to smack it right back.
6. Do One
If the same accounts are making you feel bad on the regular, if the amount of #gifted is grinding your gears or if an account just doesn’t float your boat anymore then unfollow. The squares are to be enjoyed so sack off any that aren’t doing it for you. Harsh but true.
7. Comments Please
If you want to do well on the ‘gram you need to pay lip service. Telling @what_sharon_wore_today that she looks like a mega babe might feel a bit weird at first, but you soon get into the swing of it. Basically, if you want likes and comments on your posts, you need to dish them out to others too.
8. How Do You Plead?
Don’t feel guilty! Sometimes you won’t have time to comment on other posts or reply to comments on your posts because you know, life. Noone is logging how often you comment or getting the hump because you didn't reply to them. Everyone on Instagram understands the grind, and soz, but noone is twiddling their thumbs just waiting for your name to pop up in notifications. Get over it. I mean I still do this all the time but I’m working on it!
9. Werk Werk Werk
Instagram is hard work. You can’t just pitch up with some fancy photos and let the good stuff happen. I’m not even going to tell you the sheer amount that goes into it because unless you’re actually doing it you’ll roll your eyes and think it’s a piece of piss. It isn’t. Don’t @ me because I will come for you.
10. I’ll Be There For You
The last thing I ever expected when I started Instagram was to make friends. I have friends, I don’t need more right? But through the DMs, the stupid comments, the shared interests and the mutual appreciation friendships will be forged. You will go from Instagram accounts to Instachums and then end up actual friends (at least I hope so and I’m not being a bit Single White Female about this). This is what will make you stay on Instagram because believe me there are days you will want to quit (dramatic but trust me you will). So when the likes are rolling in, when your photos are on point and your followers are fully engaged, enjoy it! But remember that what you actually stand to gain is a whole new girl gang and that’s something that can never be #gifted.
NB: Like I said I’m no expert. I’ve not been trolled (yet), no brands are knocking at my door and I’ve not even had a dirty perv ask if he can buy my used underwear (yes that happens). I’m still learning but my biggest bit of advice would be to enjoy it, don’t overthink it and don’t be a twat.