I’m not one to regularly check my Instagram numbers but having hit my 30k milestone I was pretty excited about this number. The hard work I’d been doing on my blog and Instagram page were paying off and more and more people seem to want to look at the things I was posting about.
I woke up on Wednesday morning to see my 30.5k followers diminish down to 29.8k – a loss of 600 followers overnight. How could this happen? What did I wrong? Is there some sort of glitch? To make it worse, this was right in the middle of the week I decided I was going to have a bit of a social media detox and have 5 days off from posting to give myself a more me time. Could this be why? I’m not proud to say that I panicked a bit and went on a bit of a follower spree … how could 600 people decide overnight they didn’t like me and didn’t want to see my content anymore? When things like this happen Twitter is always the best source of information and by typing in ‘Instagram lose followers’ I was greeted by a thread of hundreds of people asking the same question. Why had they lost 10, 300, 1000 followers overnight? Some asking why they had lost over half a million followers! In what seemed like an age later, Instagram finally put out a tweet saying they are trying to resolve this ‘glitch’ in the system and a day later my account was back to its original state 30.5k state. What the hell is going on?
WHAT ARE ‘BOT’S?
Rumour has it this was caused by Instagram clearing out ‘BOT’ followers and inactive accounts from peoples profiles and it’ fair to say this ‘bug’ has had people lose their shit. If you haven’t heard of the term ‘BOT’ before this is short for ‘ROBOT’ where ‘dummy’ Instagram accounts will follow you just to get your attention so you will follow back. ROBOTS also come in the form where people buy them to bump up their own following because guess what? Numbers shouldn’t matter on Instagram but unfortunately, they do! It’s important to know I’m not talking about personal accounts but more for accounts earning money/running a business from the platform. Over the last few years my blog and Instagram has turned into a small business and I’ve worked damn hard to make that happen. I’ve spent hours writing blogs, editing photos and networking my ass off. What I HAVEN’T ever done is bought a single follower or used a robot to engage with other people. EVER and I will never do that. My blog has got to the number one London Food Blog spot on Google and my Instagram account has grown completely organically … with a little bit of help from a hot chocolate video that went Instagram and Facebook viral and even then, that original video was created completely organically. NO BOTS ALLOWED!
IS BIGGER ALWAYS BETTER?
Having grown it into a business means I’ve got to work in partnership with brands and companies that I love and who have seen the authenticity in my work and I’m very grateful for them. However, some companies and business don’t see things like this and will only work with you if you measure up to a certain number. This was made even more evident when I was once mistakenly copied into an email where my numbers were being ‘discussed’ along with a load of other people. Awkward. Unfortunately, It’s not just companies who are guilty of it but we as everyday folk are too, even if it’s unconscious. When I see a new cafe, restaurant or someone else’s Instagram account and they have a lot of followers I think oh, they MUST be great in this case. Bigger is always better, right? Or wrong? Unfortunately, we live in a world where numbers are used as a measurement of success, especially nowadays with social media running rife. It’s having a serious effect on us as a society and particularly our younger generation who use it as a measurement of self-worth. I won’t get into that now but you know where I’m going with that.
ARE NUMBERS REALLY THAT IMPORTANT?
In some cases, numbers SHOULD matter. Companies SHOULD be looking at how many people are reading my blog because it’s a more genuine platform but when it comes to things like Instagram they should be looking at sooooo much more than just a single number. They should be looking at the engagement, the quality, the authenticity. It’s a catch 22 situation because some brands or business won’t work with you simply without a certain level of followers but how do you get that larger audience without working with those bigger brands? This bug has got the Instagram community up in arms because and really highlighted the importance that we put on our numbers because whether we like it or not they DO matter … even though they shouldn’t. We know that this is what potential partners and clients look at and to have that number taken away (even momentarily) was (and is) a big deal.
The good thing that has come out of all this is it has brought this conversation to the forefront of our minds and if it turned out they were getting rid of all the ‘dud’ followers it would leave us with more of a genuine following. Remember most of us (and I stress MOST of us) didn’t ask for those dud accounts to follow us so bugger off and let us have genuine followers god damn you! For all of you reading this, all of you great companies I’ve worked with so far and for those 30k people (or not) following me on Instagram, I am very grateful to every one of you for sticking around. Truly I am.