As many of you know that have been here a while, I have a love/hate relationship with “The Gram” I can literally love it one day, hate it the next. I love the people that I have found on there, but it frustrates me, (don’t get me started on the follow/unfollow twaddle) and it is SO difficult to grow on there. I wasn’t around in the good ole days of Instagram that some of my lovely Insta friends tell me about, so I know that apparently, I joined it at its most rubbish time. Just my luck! A friend of mine that loves Instagram, told me I hadn’t yet “found my way” with it, so, I decided at the start of the year that I would try to find that way. Here is what Iv learnt in my Instagram experiment these last few months.
The Instagram Experiment
So, what I decided I was going to do was try a few different hats on with it, as well as understand my figures better. I wanted to see if I could find a way of sparking some enjoyment in what I post, not just what I look at. I have always enjoyed looking at posts on there, especially something arty, or beautiful travel photos, and find inspiration on there. I have no issue with losing an hour scrolling! Its just the posting side that wasn’t floating my boat. (although I do love being totally relaxed on stories, im happy in my morning minger moments)
Starting a “Theme”
So, my Instagram account was random and non-themed (its here if you are not familiar) I started with looking at all the Instagram accounts that I am drawn to and enjoy, to see what it was I liked about them. I saw that I seemed to quite like continuity and flow in the over all look of an account. I was attracted to accounts that had a colour scheme going on (but not boringly so) etc. As I personally love light, soft pictures I decided that this is what I would try to aim for. During this “phase”, I absolutely loved some of the photos I took, (and as we well know, I am NO photographer) but I enjoyed the challenge and the “arty” side of staging a photo and looking for a good shot. It spoke to my creative side. But, maaannnnnnn was it restrictive! I found myself stressing about taking photos to get a little stock pile of Instagram pics, and blimey o riley I don’t have that sort of time on my hands! I did really like the look it was giving to my account, but, unless I gave up my job, never went out, and spent my life thinking about Instagram, that was never going to be sustainable for me.
Lesson learnt – Im not the sort of girl that can stick to a theme. I love the look, but in practical terms, its way to hard and Im just not that time rich, Insta obsessed, forward thinking or organised!
Time of day I posted my picture
I read an article that said that you should look at your analytics to see when the majority of your followers are on Instagram. According to mine, between mid day and 3 was my “busy” time. Now, I usually post around the morning time as Im an early riser and its when I have the most time. I’m not one to jump on Insta throughout the day really, so posting in the middle of the day didn’t seem the most practical of things. However, in the interest of experimentation, I gave it a whirl. Did I see a difference in my post interaction? Nope! None at all. Great news for me as it was a pain in the butt trying to faff about on Instagram in the middle of the day. I do wonder if this would change for accounts with more followers, as there would be more numbers to judge it by, (I suspect it would to be fair) but for little ole me, no difference.
Lesson learnt – It seems I can post whenever I like. It made not a jot of difference to me.
Using more hashtags
In the same article, it said that you should try to use the full amount of hashtags that your allowed, which I believe is 30. Thats a lot of hash tagging! I struggled to use 30, and never did but I did try to use a few more. Again, it made no difference to my engagement of likes how many hashtags I used. Thank gawd for that, there is only so many times you can write “make up lover” in 15 different variations!
Lesson learnt – Hashtags are important, but I didn’t see a difference in how many I used. It also made me hashtag crazy and started turning me mental by hashtagging everything in my mind! (#workready #getyourarseoutofbed #cleanyourcrapup #tescostime #comeonluluwalkies) You get the picture……………..
Posting more photos of myself
This is a hard one for me, as I really don’t enjoy being in front of the camera. It just dosent come naturally to me and I always feel so awkward. Im happy to chat away on Instagram stories, but am just not a selfie queen. My friend thats into Instagram told me that people like to see who is behind the account, so I should try to post a pic with me in it once a week. I struggled with this, but did commit to once a month at least. I did find that people left comments on photos of me, but in “likes” numbers, they were pretty average. The photo of me in the beautiful tea rooms that my hubby snapped on his old iPhone, was however one of my most popular photos in the last 3 months. A simple, not particularly good quality Iphone snap! I did find I got a little easier with seeing my face on my grid, so in terms of personal development that was a step forward, but its certainly not something I will be doing on a daily basis. I get no enjoyment or creative satisfaction from that.
Lesson learnt – No one dies if I post a snap of me now and again. Its ok, its not so scary.
Interacting on other accounts
Iv always done this. Always, from day one. If I genuinely like a photo or feel Id like to comment on a caption, I always have done. I was NEVER going to start leaving disingenuous or insincere comments on photos, I cant stand that. However, what I did notice was how many people are obviously doing this as their tactic! I cannot tell you the amount of similar or the same comments I saw from the same people on accounts! There was also a lot of sugary sweet fawning going on, especially on bigger accounts than the people doing the fawning! Now, maybe Im just old and past all that but once I spotted it and it was apparent to me, I couldn’t unsee it! Thats not a bit of me and it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Lesson learnt – Never, ever, ever, ever be insincere. It sticks out a mile!
Posting every day and scheduling apps
Apparently we should be aiming to post every day. I fail miserably at this. Again, mainly lack of time and general business of life! I think I probably manage 4/5 days out of 7, so Im not going to beat myself up over it. I did do a month almost of posting everyday, and I do think your engagement drops slightly if you don’t post for a couple of days. I assume the algorithm comes into play with that. I might look at a scheduling app to set them up to post so I dont physically have to, but to be honest, that just feels like a chore!
Lesson learnt – If you have the time, post every day. It did make a small difference.
What the “subject” of my Photo was
I have always tried to keep my photos on my ‘gram, relevant to my blog posts if possible. Its not always possible as sometimes, as a beauty and lifestyle blogger, the topic Im writing about isn’t very Instagramable, so thats where a staged type pic comes in. I seem to have developed a thing for taking pictures of hot drinks!!! (maybe its my vast collection of pretty tea cups people tell me I have haha) Iv also often been asked me about my shoes and handbags on Instagram stories, and I did a little poll on there to see if people would want to see pics of them now and again. As we well know, handbags and shoes are my kryptonite, but I don’t ever want to come across showy-offy, so never really featured any of
my babies my collection. I save long and hard for my items, and its taken 15 years to build my collection (I started when I was 30). I did however, get a resounding yes, so have popped a couple of photos on in the last few months. One of the photos of a bag, (the photos that is the header photo for this post) was my second most popular photo for engagement in the last 3 months, (my old wedding photo for Nik’s last chemo was my most popular, that made me happy, so many of you have been on this journey with us and so kind). Now, Im not sure if its the caption that causes the engagement or the photo itself. I suppose, in theory as Instagram is a visual platform, the photo must be the thing that catches the eye, but the caption can be the thing that results in a “like” or a comment? I have definitely found that if I don’t leave much of a caption, I don’t get as many comments.
Lesson learnt – Post what I like! However, so many of you are obviously fellow handbag lovers. High five sistas!
Your Insta Friends
Just like in blogging, on Instagram your vibe attracts your tribe……..if they can see you! I think of many of my Insta buddies as friends, and show them as much support and love as I can. They also do to me which is lovely. However, I have discovered that just because I liked their last picture, that dose not ensure that I will see their next one! One of the accounts that I follow, always posts beautiful imagery that inspires me. I thought I hadn’t seen her for a few days, so popped over to their account. Although they had posted daily pics, I hadn’t seen them in my feed. I had missed three of their pics! Now, I don’t understand the Instagram algorithm, but thats just bloody annoying! Im getting shown photos that Im not that interested in or are sponsored, but not seeing accounts I follow and that I interact with! Bore off Insta! Show me the good stuff!
Lesson learnt – Pop on over to the accounts that you love if you haven’t seen a post, it may be thats its just not showing in your feed.
So, what has my 3 month study revealed to me………..
- Im an over thinker! Well and truly! I knew this about me, but I realise that I probably need to cool my engines on trying to understand everything. Some things are just not understandable! Things like algorithms are always going to change the game and make things harder, and from the comments I see on twitter, its a common problem.
- I should just post what and when I like. I do like the challenge of trying to take a nice photo to post, but if its just a snap shot on my phone, thats ok too. I think my enjoyment of posting on Instagram will come from trying to improve my very limited photography skills, as well as what I have always enjoyed, the chatting with people on there.
- I have my blog Instagram account as it helps promote my blog, which is what it is all about for me. The written word and writing is what makes me tick. However, when I have looked at my analytics for my blog, Instagram only equates to 3% of my blog traffic! So although it does generate traffic to my blog, its a tiny amount so I should stop stressing over it. My blog visitors and views is growing beyond my expectations, and that makes me so very happy.
- I was told in the early days, to switch my Instagram account to a business account so I could look at the analytics, which I did. This is a useful tool and I would advise any of you that have not already done this, to do so. It just helps you see what is working on your account. Mine tells me that I am running at a 27% engagement rate, anything above 8% is considered good so that gives me hope! I aim to use analytics a little more to help with understanding.
So, thats it! The first 3 months of my experimenting. What do you think? Do you enjoy Instagram? Have you found your way with it? Has any of these results surprised you? Are you looking to grow your Instagram account or does it not bother you? Does it generate a lot of traffic to your blog if you are a blogger? Id love to hear how you find it.
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