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Is Instagram Even Worth It?

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If you follow me on Twitter, you know I've been doing a thread of observations I've made since switching from a personal account to a business account. Most of the thread is based on numbers, a disparity between follower counts, and more technical bits. I'm planning to write a full blog post about that next month (I need one more month of data to really inform my conclusion on it), but I wanted to ask, and perhaps answer, a question about Instagram today: 

Is doing all this work even worth it? 

I know some have wonderful success on Instagram. And that's great for them! But the vast majority of bloggers and small business owners, from what I can tell, struggle to make Instagram work for them. 

It's hard to exactly know how to fix the platform. What causes some people to grow so quickly and others, who are doing the exact same things and sometimes posting more meaningful content, to grow so slowly or not at all? Is it just purely luck? 

A huge issue seems to be, of course, the move from chronological order to an algorithm based on your personal likes and whose story you've watched. While in theory that sounds great, in reality what happens is that you end up seeing photos from 5-6 days before on your feed... instead of the stuff that people just posted! That means that when I post a photo, most likely no one who actually follows me is going to see it for at least 24 hours to 2 days; posting anything topical becomes really difficult, to say the least. 

There are other issues within the blogger community that make growing difficult. Following and unfollowing is a big issue and can feel like such a downer. That's not the only thing, there are absolutely more, but it can all feel like a huge weight when you're just trying to do the best you can and see results. 

It's no wonder, truly, that people go to the extreme lengths of buying followers. It absolutely won't help your brand at all, but it will make you feel a bit better about struggling to grow!

In the past 2 years, I've doubled my followers. From 300 to 600. For some people, that's pretty significant; but in that time, others have started Instagram accounts and climbed to thousands of followers. I definitely do want that kind of success or those numbers (being famous scares me!), but I do wonder just what exactly I'm doing wrong. I've improved my photos. I've upped my hashtag game. I've done everything I can aside from turn into one of those emotionless Instagram accounts that's all about aesthetic. (No offense to Instagram accounts with themes.) 

So, knowing that I'm not really alone in feeling this way, I have to wonder: is Instagram even worth putting this much thought and effort into? It's still listed as many people's favorite social media, but when it comes down to numbers, I don't see evidence for it contributing to blog traffic--just potential for sponsorships! That's where it gets difficult, isn't it? 

I might decide to let Instagram go and not try--but in the end, that hurts my ability to work with brands. It's brands that want a large Instagram following, really, and it's something that a lot of bloggers just can't provide. What happens to us? What happens to the people who have a large Twitter following, good traffic, and a bumpin' Pinterest profile... but not a great Instagram presence? Do we get left behind because where we thrive isn't where brands want us to thrive? 

It's a lot to think about! So I'm turning it over to you: what do you think? Is Instagram worth the hassle? Am I overthinking this? 

10 Quotes to Use on Instagram

I've written before about how I struggle with Instagram captions. It's definitely a challenge for me to write engaging content both on my blog and on so many social media platforms! But I'm trying... I started thinking recently about quotes that can be used in captions to add a bit of humor, thought, and, of course, engagement. I found a few great ones on Pinterest that I thought would be perfect to share. 

  1. Everybody has a chapter they don't read out loud. 
  2. Better an "oops" than a "what if." 
  3. "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." ee cummings 
  4. We look up at the stars and see such different things. 
  5. "Maybe one day we'll finally learn to love ourselves and stop apologizing for the things that make us who we are." R.M. Drake
  6. "Of course I feel too much, I'm a universe of exploding stars." S. Ajna 
  7. We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone. 
  8. You can ask the universe for all the signs you want, but ultimately, we see what we want to see when we're ready to see it. 
  9. Don't let someone dim your light, simply because it's shining in their eyes. 
  10. When it rains, look for rainbows. When it's dark, look for stars. 

For more great Instagram captions, I always turn to Pinterest. You can follow me here

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No More Instagram Themes

Does anyone else feel like something crazy is going on over on Instagram? I love nothing more than a careful Instagram: pretty photos, clever captions, glimpses of life behind the blog. But more and more, I've noticed the emphasis becoming about themes. A simple Google search reveals guides to theming your Instagram, tons of Pinterest results, and even more guides to keep your Instagram "on-trend."

Sorry, I had to take a break from yawning. 

Is it just me or are Instagram themes... boring? 

To be clear, I think some people do them right: they edit their photos the same way every time for a cohesive look. There's nothing wrong with that. But overwhelmingly, Instagram themes that focus on creating a specific look in the grid, or that plan out larger images, or only use certain colors, gosh, it's gets a little monotonous. 

Mostly, I think it removes the spontaneity and fun from Instagram. I don't really want to see the same, white-background photos over and over again. Already, the marble background flat lay has becoming devastatingly common and every time I see it, I can't help but want something, anything, else to come into style. 

So this is my plea to other bloggers: posting nice, curated photos in one thing. But no more Instagram themes. 

I would argue (and I mean, I am) that Instagram themes are boring. And not only are they boring, I think they remove the fun of Instagram. As a blog reader (as well as a blog writer), I don't want to follow people with perfect houses who only post perfect photos. Sometimes, life is messy: the dinner burns, the coffee doesn't taste good, your son has a blow out right before the newborn photo shoot. Excuse the language, but shit happens. That's life. 

And Instagram is meant to show a little bit more of your life, right? So why portray that life through an all-perfect theme? 

I carefully pick photos I post on Instagram now. But sometimes, I post a picture of my messy living room and linty leggings because, that's my life. And then, sometimes, I post a nice little flat lay, because that's my life too. 

All I'm saying is: you don't have to dedicate your Instagram to grainy, badly lit photos. But I beg you, let a little bit of your real life in. Not the curated side table that you keep clean for blog photos. Not the corner you keep meticulously clean. Not that piece of poster board you have covered in fake marble vinyl. Your readers deserve to know that sometimes life isn't perfect. Sometimes, it's not about a perfect Instagram feed. Sometimes, it's just about being authentic. 

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