With 500 million people using Instagram daily, it’s little wonder it’s become more than just the simple photo sharing app it started as back in 2010. It’s a place where you can change your career, flex your creative muscles and perhaps even earn big bucks: Last year ‘Instagram Queen’ Sara Tasker earned six figures last year from her Instagram following and related projects. Each picture posted takes you a step closer to a new life, and there’s a billion potential eyes on your grid each month, so what’s a ‘Grammer to do but chase those numbers?
Evolving away from figures
I was an early adopter of Instagram, although judging by my follower count you’d never know it. At just shy of 4k I don’t even hit the micro-influencer bar and for a while, that was an issue. It stressed me out, reinforced shame and feelings of self-doubt. I signed up for courses, curated my grid, posted regularly, used the right hashtags, and for one short week I even used a bot.
Not only was this boring (my true love is the connections I’ve made) it was also foolish; Instagram actively rewards those engaging authentically.
The more present you are in the app, the more you engage with others and the more you participate in the community, the more rewards you reap; both in the algorithm and, well….. In real life.
Engaging with people, chatting over DM’s, realising you’re not alone -- that’s the stuff of social media dreams.
Emma Lavelle agrees, explaining: “I’ve lost myself in the numbers before. It’s hard not to!” but she now revels in the friendships she’s made. “I honestly don’t think there’s any competition there. I’ve ignored the numbers & made true friends that I value a lot more than a number of strangers.”
The Power to Change
Hannah Otto took to Instagram when she raised money for charity. She raised almost £8,000 for refugee charities in Syria through an online auction. “It was different to my usual content so turned some followers off.
“Most importantly though, it showed how Instagram can come together as a force for good. So many people were enthusiastic about it, donating lots of prizes and money.”
When I gave birth I spent more time than ever online in a bid to fight boredom, baby blues and loneliness. Instagram gave me a link to the world, and became the creative outlet I craved in those early days of motherhood. More than anything, it is now where I earn money. From my freelance writing to ecourses, people look at my Instagram and see a polished but suitably ‘real’ place. I’m often complimented on my captions…..and have been hired for things off the back of my grid.
If you’re new to the platform, or are stuck in a rut, here are my top tips to get out of it:
1.) It’s called social media for a reason. Be social.
2) Don’t worry about ‘posting your best’ unless your job is that of a photographer…….being real, being a little less ‘polished’ might feel scary but it won’t harm your career.
3) Spend more time engaging with other people than you do curating your own grid.
4) If, like me, you LOVE curating your grid; ignore the above!
5) Have fun. Join in with Instagram weekend hashtag projects (#WHP) and try not to get too bogged down with the idea of ‘getting featured’.
6) Don’t dismiss your current followers by constantly chasing new ones: nurture your community, don’t patronise people by bemoaning the fact you ‘only have 7000 followers’.....imagine if that 7000 were all hanging out with you in your flat? That would be A LOT of people.
And finally, feel free to disregard all of the above. There are no rules in this brave new world, enjoy it.
Words by Lucy Lucraft
Image by @caroline_south