7 Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Instagram
I’m so excited to be starting a brand new series here on the blog and every Monday on Instagram LIVE. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing everything I’ve learned about Instagram since using it for my business almost two years ago. I’ll share the ins and outs on how to grow a following, how to use all the special features and how to make Instagram work for you.
I don’t know about you, but when I first started using Instagram for my business it was so confusing. I felt like there was a ton of information out there, but everyone was telling me something different. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make my feed look pretty, post at the right times and share valuable content every day. Now that I’m almost two years in there are a few things I wish I would have known when I first started. It would have made life so much easier and given me back hours of my life each day.
Follower Counts Will Fluctuate
The first few months after really trying on Instagram I noticed that my follower counts were constantly going up and down. I’d gain a few followers each day, but the number of people following me would barely move. Or I’d get a notification on my phone that I had a new follower, but when I logged into Instagram my follower count had stayed the same or even dropped. I didn’t know why this kept happening and it was so frustrating. I ended up Googling it and found out that one method people use to grow their following on Instagram is to use the follow/unfollow method. What this means is that people will follow a bunch of accounts all at once and then a few days later unfollow all of them in hopes that those accounts followed back.
This was a huge eye opener for me. I realized that that was why my follower count kept going up and down each day and why it was so hard to see real growth. It also helped me to not take it personally when someone unfollowed me. More than likely it was someone using this method and they probably hadn’t even really looked at my account at all.
Personally, I think this method of growth is shady. I would never use it myself because it isn’t genuine. I want to follow people that I actually like and whose content I find valuable. I also would hope that anyone following me is genuinely interested in what I have to offer too. Once I knew about this method I was able to see which accounts that followed me were genuine and which were not. If you look at that person’s profile and it looks like you have nothing in common or you notice that they are following thousands of people, chances are they only followed you for a follow back and a few days later they will unfollow. Do your best to not take it personally and know that with time, as your account grows your follows each day will be greater than your unfollows so your numbers won’t fluctuate so much.
2. Numbers Are Not Indicative of Success
When I first started on Instagram I would see so many accounts with huge followings and automatically assumed they were super successful and probably making way more money than I was. The truth is, the number of followers a person has on Instagram does not always represent how successful they really are. I know plenty of accounts who have smaller followings than me, but are making way more money than I am. They may have a larger following on Facebook or get thousands of page-views on their blogs each day. There is no way to really know how successful someone else is (unless they tell you) so we need to stop looking at those numbers as a way to compare our success to someone else’s.
I know that is easier said than done because it is human nature to compare and numbers are an easy way to compare things. But here’s the thing, we all decide for ourselves what success looks like. We also have to remember that just because our follower counts go up doesn’t mean the money will go up either. They are sometimes correlated but one does not cause the other. Usually it’s all the other things you are doing to grow your business that help to increase your revenue, not just how many followers you have on Instagram.
3. There Is No “Perfect” Time To Post
I remember agonizing over when I should post on Instagram each day. If a post didn’t perform well I would beat myself up about it and then spend hours researching about what the best time of day was to post. Some people said early morning was best, some people said to look at your insights on Instagram to see when your followers are most active, and some still said to post multiple times a day too! It was exhausting. Eventually I came across the Tailwind App for Instagram which tells you your optimum times each day. There are usually 3-5 times each day that are great times to post. This took a lot of the stress out of it for me so I wasn’t stressing over if I missed a good time. If I didn’t get a chance to post in the morning I knew I still have a few other time slots to choose from.
More recently I’ve been experimenting with posting at the same time everyday (currently 9am PST) and in some ways like that better. From what I can tell though, it doesn’t really matter. What matters more is that you are engaging with people on your post for the first hour after you post. That means that after you post you hang around on Instagram and like and respond to all the comments you receive. You can also be liking and commenting other people’s posts then too. The more engagement your post has in that first hour the better because that tells Instagram to keep showing your post to your followers. So if you are stressing about when to post just make sure that when you post you have a half hour to an hour of time to spare to be engaging with people right away.
4. Likes Don’t Mean Sh*t
This is probably the hardest one for me to get over. I have to constantly remind myself that how well my post does on social media doesn’t really matter. Your post is only really good for about 24hrs, after that Instagram tends to stop showing it to people. So every 24 hours you have to start all over again with something new. Say your post today only gets 100 likes, while yesterday’s post got 300. Does that mean you have lost value as a person or a business? NO!
The number of likes you get does not indicate your success.
The number of likes you get does not determine your value.
The number of likes you get does not make you money.
It is so easy to get caught up in this number game, trust me I get caught up in it too. But when you let the numbers determine your worth or how you feel about yourself your mental health will suffer. Remember that likes don’t mean sh*t. They really don’t.
5. Instagram Won’t Make You Money
The biggest eye opener I had after starting my blog and using Instagram was when I checked my website stats. I saw that majority of my blog traffic was coming from Pinterest or Google and Instagram was only bringing in about 5% of my weekly page-views. I was spending 2-3 hours a day at least on Instagram, but wasn’t getting anything in return as far as money goes.
Instagram is a great tool to use to connect to your customers, but it is just a small part of running a successful business. Two hours on Instagram versus two hours designing, blogging or sewing pouches is huge. Those two hours being productive and doing things that will actually make me money will be way more worth mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. So while engaging with your audience on Instagram is great, remember that you want to be investing most of your time on the things that will actually bring you income.
6. The Algorithm Is Always Changing
Ever hear people complaining about the Algorithm? Instagram uses an Algorithm to determine which posts they will show your followers. If you notice a sudden decrease in likes for a few days it probably means that they have made adjustments to the Algorithm. You may also notice that you stop seeing certain accounts in your regular feed, but when you go to their accounts you see they have been posting regularly, but you haven’t been seeing them. Basically, Instagram will keep showing you content that you regularly engage with so if you want to start seeing those accounts again you need to go back and like and comment on their latest posts. The Algorithm is always changing and Instagram isn’t ever going to tell you when it is so don’t get discouraged when your numbers fluctuate or you start missing posts from accounts you follow.
7. A Lot Of People Use Comment Groups or Pods
One thing that took me a while to discover is the use of comment groups or pods. It wasn’t until I was invited to be a part of one that I realized a lot of people were using them to grow their following on Instagram. It’s basically a group of people with similar interests that agree to like and comment on each other’s post each day. They can be a great way to grow your account and we’ll talk more about that in my next post.
Something to keep in mind is that being a part of one is a bit of a commitment depending on how many people are involved. The great thing is, at least in my case, is that the people involved become your close friends and it becomes more of a support and encouragement group. The best part is you don’t have to go searching for a group or wait to be asked to be a part of one, you can reach out to others and create your own.
There you go! The seven things I wish I would have known about Instagram before starting. I hope that you found some valuable information here. Instagram is a great tool for your business, but always remember that you have value and worth no matter how many followers or likes you get on social media. Were there things you wish you would have know about Instagram before you started too? I’d love to hear them! Share in the comments below.