How I Fell Out of Love with Instagram

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Of all the social media platforms, Instagram has long been my favourite. I love documenting those little snippets from our daily lives and capturing our family as it grows. I love the positive vibe it has, the supportive community that I’ve found there, and the connections and friendships I’ve forged with other Instagrammers. But recently I’ve fallen out of love with it all and I’m not entirely sure why.

 

Yet another algorithm change…

There’s no doubt that Instagram has changed the algorithm yet again – I’m not seeing my favourites in my feed and I’m having to remember to head over to their accounts to see their recent posts. Even those that I have notifications set up for I’m missing, as the notification pops up but then disappears. I check into Instagram very frequently throughout the day, and my feed isn’t updating with that many new photos either, so Instagram is definitely limiting what I’m seeing.

 

Hot Pink Wellingtons Instagram in May

 

The fakeness of comment pods and ‘Instant’ threads

 

It feels like the only way to get your posts seen by people is to be in comment pods and ‘instant’ threads, usually run in a facebook group where everyone posts the link to their photo in a thread and everyone reciprocates. These can be a great way to boost your likes, but if you post your photo as close to the opening of the thread as possible, the ‘instant’ interaction from people ensure Instagram thinks your post is popular and shows it to more people in their feed. But these practices have attracted criticism from many people who see the interaction from them as being fake. There’s no denying that these methods have a touch of fakeness about them – it’s a reciprocal arrangement after all: ‘I’ll like yours if you like mine’. Personally I don’t find much to object about in these. I’m part of a few comment pods, and I don’t find those a chore at all – the accounts that are part of it are all accounts I like and follow and would be happy to interact with anyway. But finding the time to join the Instant threads is far more of a chore and I find it really difficult, especially at the moment when I’m battling with a tiny baby throughout the day and night. As a result, my engagement has dropped, and when I look at other accounts with fewer followers but far more likes, it’s hard not to wonder what I’m doing wrong.

 

Screenshot from Hot Pink Wellingtons Instagram

 

The shady practice of follow / unfollow

The biggest change for me lately though is the follow / unfollow trend. This is a well established tactic in building your instagram following – you follow a huge chunk of accounts, then a few days / weeks later simply go through and unfollow them all, whether they followed you back or not, in the hope that they won’t notice and will keep following. Until recently this seemed to be mainly from US accounts, and was fairly easy to spot. When you get followed by an Instagrammer with 50K followers but who’s only following 500, it’s pretty clear that they’ll be unfollowing a few days later. I’m not deluded enough to think that my Instagram feed is that good!

But lately the follow / unfollow has become rife, not just from US accounts, but UK ones too. From accounts that aren’t obvious follow/unfollowers looking at numbers; from accounts that insist publicly that they don’t play the follow/unfollow game. I’m also noticing it more and more from bloggers who are just starting out. It’s clear that people see it as a great way to build their numbers, which I’m sure is true, but it feels a pretty shady and shallow way of growing your account to me. I have no shame in unfollowing people right back once I see they’ve unfollowed me – I don’t expect every account I follow to follow me in return, but to have followed purely to gain my follow in return is a real turn off and it takes a pretty spectacular account for me to keep following after that happens.

I know Instagram isn’t just a numbers game, and that’s certainly not where my love of it came from. But this time last year I was gaining around 100 followers a week, now I’m lucky if I hit that in a month. And last month, for the first time, I actually ended the month with fewer followers than I’d started it with. When you see that someone you follow and interact with has unfollowed you it really stings. Because Instagram is such a personal thing, a sharing of your life, it feels like a rejection of you personally. It feels like if you don’t ‘play the game’ now, it’s so difficult to gain new followers, and when it feels like everyone else is playing it, it takes away the feeling that it’s the happy and positive place I lovedĀ In a month that has been the most exciting in a long time for me, with the arrival of our new baby, it feels particularly hurtful to have lost so many followers. And I feel like I’ve been fairly restrained on the baby spam front! Ok, I’m tired and definitely more than a bit emotional, but it stings.

Looking back over my posts from June I was sad to realise that I’ve hardly posted any photos of Ben. Perhaps partly because after posting the first couple I lost so many followers. I’ve realised that I’ve hesitated to post the ones I have as I feel they’re not ‘instagram worthy’ – that they look more like quick snaps than professional photos – and in the back of my mind I’m worried that I’ll lose followers on the back of that. But seriously, how sad is that? That I’m hesitant to post photos of my gorgeous baby on my own account, just for the sake of keeping a few followers. No wonder I’ve stopped enjoying Instagram if I’ve become so concerned about posting for other people, rather than myself!

I’m sure that I’ll rediscover the love in a few weeks’ time but for now I’m letting it take a bit of a back seat to just enjoying my new little family. And I’m going to make sure that I’m capturing all those little moments – time flies and I want to make sure I don’t miss all of those tiny changes.

Have you noticed a change in Instagram lately? I know I can’t be the only one out there feeling like this – feel free to rant away below!

12 Comments
  • Kristine Gibbons
    July 7, 2017

    Instagram is driving me nuts lately its all out of order. Personally I don’t post for likes and my snaps are defiantly not professional ones. It’s a shame through its sounds like the new algorithm is turning people off.

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      July 7, 2017

      It’s definitely sad to hear so many people feeling the same. I think we just need to focus on the positive things that Instagram has brought our way, and I know I have lots of those, I just need to rediscover them!

  • Louise - Mummy Miller
    July 7, 2017

    I know how you feel, for example, your account never comes up at the top of my feed anymore! I don’t understand why the accounts I interact with most aren’t coming up. I much preferred it when it was just in a chronological order, you knew exactly where you were. Nowadays I keep having pictures from 2/3 days at the top of my feed! It drives me mad!
    I haven’t been taking part in the instants recently either because I felt they were such a chore. I think this ‘shadow banning’ doesn’t help either, if you use the same hashtags on some of your photos it won’t appear on the feed for that hashtag, which is just ridiculous!!
    I hope your love for Instagram comes back, I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing more photos of Ben, all your photos are so beautiful! X

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      July 7, 2017

      I’m exactly the same with your account – it might show me one from days ago, but I’m missing all the recent posts. I have no idea what the new algorithm is based on, but it’s not working for me. The shadow banning thing seems bizarre to me – if your account is a general theme, surely it makes sense that you’d use the same hashtags regularly? I’m just going to carry on regardless, and I’m sure the love will come back soon!

  • Stephanie
    July 7, 2017

    I use to LOVE Instagram, but I know that feeling. Please don’t not put any pics up of your gorgeous boy. I want to see them!

  • Emily Peacock
    July 7, 2017

    I have been feeling so similar with Insta lately. It used to be my favourite place, but now it just seems like a huge competition! I wish they would see how unhappy us as users are and put it back to how it was xx

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      July 7, 2017

      That’s it – it just feels like everyone out there now is just seeing you as a number to boost their following. But I guess that was inevitable when the feed moved from being chronological to an algorithm. But again, it feels like something big has changed again recently and it’s got a lot of people down.

  • Madeline Littlejohns
    July 7, 2017

    Honestly, the whole follow/unfollow thing really bothers me. There’s a pretty big UK blogger who seems so lovely who has done it to me twice now and I feel torn between being disappointed by it and amused by it! You can’t take it personally I know, but it still really bothers me! Your account is gorgeous though Katy, I always love your photos! x

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      July 7, 2017

      I’d love to be able to not take it personally, but I’m just not thick skinned enough! I hear you on the big UK bloggers who you’d think would be past the need to do all that, but I see the same names doing it all the time. Thanks for your lovely words too, you’re one of my favourites but I have to seek yours out lately too!

  • Squished blueberries
    July 7, 2017

    Oh I’m so glad I saw this because I really can’t be bothered with Instagram these days either and it’s weird going from it being one of my favourite things ever to this. I do miss a few people (like you for example haha) that I don’t get to catch up with regularly anymore but the whole thing just isn’t worth it for me at the moment. I don’t think the algorithm helps but for me it’s more about feeling like it’s a competition and like everyone on my feed is trying to promote themselves and build a brand rather than just connect with like minded people. That’s what it feels like anyway to me, I’m not saying no one is genuine and I know I’ve been just as guilty in the past of trying to work it to my advantage but I don’t know, I feel like something’s changed. I don’t feel like sharing my life on there anymore and I certainly wouldn’t be so open and honest in my captions as I used to be, it doesn’t feel at all like a safe space anymore. I guess because of all the tactics you mention which more and more people are catching on to. I know if you want to make money out of it you have to be tactical about it to a certain extent but I suppose I’ve just come to find it a bit icky to be mixing business tactics with what I’m sharing on there which is my genuine life, my thoughts and feelings and insecurities etc. We need a new Instagram haha!
    Sorry for the long rambling comment!!
    P.S. post as many pics of Ben as you want, he’s scrummy! Xx

  • Hayley McLean
    July 7, 2017

    Instagram is shit lately. I dont know whats gone wrong with it but in the last few months its just changed completely. I know there is a new algorithm but its beyond that. I’ve felt like deleting my account completely so many times but obviously its my full time job so I cant but it gives me SO much anxiety.

    I know unfollow games are a thing but My account unfollows people all of the time, even my two very closest blogging friends Alex and Fiona (Infact especially them)…almost every single day my account just randomly unfollows them and only that they’re my close friends they message and tell me its happened again so I can refollow, but I get so anxious about people who wouldn’t message and tell me thinking I’ve done it on purpose. I know the same thing has happened to other people recently too, it seems to be really common but its awful as you know people will be thinking youre doing it on purpose but you’re not, and short of deleting your account there’s just nothing you can do. Instagram dont even respond to emails about it.

    It is awful though – it happened to me a few months back when a blogger I really admired unfollowed me and I was totally crushed. I spent ages wondering if I’d done something to upset her (because we did speak occasionally, she wasn’t a stranger) or if it was an accident etc because it seemed too bizzare that she would just unfollow because she didnt like my photos. Then one day when I liked a picture of hers she noticed it and messaged me to apologise, and said she didnt have a clue how it happened. All that worrying over it for no reason at all! (I stopped using unfollower trackers then, too much anxiety!!)

    To be honest I tend not to even use it in-app anymore coz its too depressing. I use Grum to schedule all my photos and thats it, I hardly ever even log into it coz theres no point – I dont see anybody I even know come up in my feed anymore coz of the algorithm and the fact that my account unfollows everyone!!

    I’m sure its nothing at all to do with your photos though, you take lovely photos. Its just that the app has basically gone to the dogs!! xx

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