After hitting 1000 followers I didn’t feel any spectacular change or get any life changing epiphanies, but around 1,100 followers I slowly started to notice a confusing pattern emerge: the photos that I was posting weren’t getting the same engagement that they had been getting in the past. They were the same photos I’d always posted at the same times, but a pet photo that could have gotten seventeen ‘likes’ in four minutes was suddenly taking ten or fifteen minutes to reach that same level. At first I thought maybe there was a delay in the hashtags displaying, but I noticed the photos were still getting a significant number of views so it probably wasn’t an exposure problem.
So what’s the deal?
I think I’ve crept out of being the ‘target’ audience for people seeking to gain followers through automation. I’ve been receiving significantly fewer spammy comments and the ghost ‘likes’ (likes that happen almost immediately after a picture has been posted with the picture receiving zero views) have disappeared.
Wait? But isn’t that the ideal?
Yes and no. Yes, because it means the likelihood of each like and follower being an actual human person has gone up significantly. That’s awesome news (and also somehow feels like a lot of pressure). So my follower counts should theoretically not fluctuate as much. In fact, since hitting 1,200 followers it’s taken me a week to gain 200 more followers (something that would normally take 2 – 2.5 weeks). No, because a part of what gets you ‘noticed’ on the site is engagement stats. People may like what you post and follow you because of it, but not feel obligated to click like or comment on it (which would make it easier for people who don’t follow you to find the account). So the ‘views’ of the photo will skyrocket while the actual engagement rates sink compared to the number of followers.
What does this actually mean?
I need to take some time to focus on how to increase engagement with current followers rather than just gaining followers. I generally know what kind of photos go over better, but I refuse to fill my account with solely pictures of my face – it’s hard to upkeep and also I’m just not that cute all the time. I also don’t have nine hours a day every day to respond to comments on Instagram if I actually want to also have a normal life. This is going to be an adventure.