I've been on Instagram since the beginning. Around 2012 maybe?
I remember the day I downloaded the app. I was at University in Bournemouth and was doing my animation degree. Each post I made was heavily filtered with some moody Instagram filter and was only liked by maybe 1 or 2 people, if that. Over time, I started to add drawings and sketches to the page. I began to follow Disney artists I admired and started to gain a few more followers of my own.
Fast forward to May 2019. My Instagram was sitting at around 1000 followers. I hadn’t posted in a few months, but that was understandable as I had a newborn. I decided to start again, this time designing an Instagram profile, like the ones I enjoyed following myself. I love following accounts that make me feel inspired and are aesthetically beautiful. It was going to be hard work and a lot of learning but why couldn’t I do that too?
So I started…
My grid was looking pretty, my posts were inspiring, my followers were growing and I felt wonderful. In the 2 years since then, I've grown to 15k followers. 15 thousand. What I was doing, was working...
However, in the past 2 months, I’ve noticed a change. My following is slowly decreasing. My engagement feels less and I’m feeling abit confused. To me, I’m still the same person I was 2 years ago. I try and inspire, I curate my feed and I *think* I make nice and engaging content. When I sit to think about it more, I've realised the change is how focused on numbers I had become and how they aren't reaching what I was used to.
Posting images and checking to see their analytics and reach is great to see what's working and what isn't. But doing it obsessively and doubting yourself when things aren't going well isn't good.
Because of this, I have turned on Instagram's new feature of hiding likes and view counts on posts. This can be done in Settings > Privacy > Posts. This means when scrolling through the app, I can see that people have liked posts, but I can't see the amount. Not only does this stop me comparing myself, it also means I can just enjoy content without attaching numbers to it! I'm also able to hide the likes and views on my own posts. I have to do this per post.
My hope is that more people turn on this feature and Instagram can continue to be a place for encouragement, inspiration and community, without numbers making it competitive, messy and unhealthy.
For me, I'm so happy to have the following that I have and the community I have built. If I have reached the end of my growth on the platform, I am so proud of what I achieved in a small space of time. My plan now is to go back to making content that inspires and people find relatable and want to interact with. If that ultimately means more follows and likes on posts, that's great.... but I wont be looking out for it anymore.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this, have you turned on the new feature yet?