Does the title of this post say enough?
BA sent me a link last week that brought me to an article posted by The New York Times. The first thing I read was The Follower Factory. I closed my laptop and went to bed. I needed to be fully awake for this one.
The article got me thinking, per usual. It has to do with twitter, but I felt extremely connected to Instagram the entire time I was reading it. So I felt like Status Salty’s WELLNESS WEDNESDAY could use a little more realness this week, because this topic has been bugging me. And wellness is VERY much about your mental health as well, so.. ready?..
Instagram obsessing can damage your mental health.
Think about it. I understand that the world we live in is social media based, that’s just how it goes. I’m also personally okay with that because a lot of what I do revolves around social media and I’ve found my happy medium between real life and online life, so I’m not complaining. But I will rave about how badly it bothers me that people buy followers or likes… and that they care that much.
First, let me break it down.
I never knew buying a following was a thing until I became a blogger, then of course I looked into it and realized how many (many) of the people I thought had this LARGE following had an insane amount of fake followers. Being a new blogger and extremely frustrated, your number count can be a tough thing to look at. Being anyone, really, with an Instagram account (or other social media) can make looking at that number tough. You compare, you doubt, you feel dumb, you lose followers, you question what you’re doing. It becomes obsessive. Trust me.
I say this extremely strongly because I’ve been there. I became obsessed with Instagram at one point. I cared that much about the number sitting below my pictures. I’m going to tell you this because it’s true, it’s torture and I don’t want you to do it.
I would stare at my following number, reload my newly uploaded picture a thousand times, go to other bloggers pages and question how their picture got way more likes than mine did. I would sit up at night wondering what to do to gain a follower, to get to 1,000.. just 1,000! I would be so deep into my phone that I missed conversations at dinner while I was liking 500 pictures a night just to gain a few followers out of it. I was caught in the horrible Instagram obsession phase and it was taking away my creativity and trace of thought throughout the day.
It was always back to Instagram, no matter what I was doing. That phone would be right next to me, ready to be picked up and scrolled through.
Which, don’t get me wrong, liking a million pictures in one night has worked for some people. It gets their page noticed witch gets their site noticed and their stats start to boom. The only thing is, it’s g-damn draining.
Then I downloaded an app (I forget the name, there are a million) that told me who was unfollowing me, how many followers I’ve lost, and my Instagram analytics.
Again, don’t get me wrong – knowing the times to post and what pictures your followers are loving the most is good in some ways. It’s great for a business, blogger or anyone trying to find their niche and really reaching out to their following to see what type of photos they are into. But, for a blogger who started blogging because she loved writing and taking pictures and wanted to create a community where woman could feel empowered and talk about whatever the f they wanted to, it was horrible.
The only thing the app did was make me more obsessed with my phone and a number.
From there, I spent 10 dollars to have an automated system like Instagram pictures for me. A bot. A bot that likes pictures so you don’t have to. A bot that does the dirty work for you. Which again, don’t get me wrong! Many bloggers and businesses use these bots and they do great things while you don’t have to, but what was that actually doing for me? It was almost sketchy, like I wasn’t running my own account and was way too focused on getting my blog out there. Then, it unfollowed all of my ACTUAL friends and family. I had to follow everyone again, making my time on Instagram way.too.long.
Then, the thought went through my head one day…
Is everyone buying Instagram followers? Is that actually how it works?
Good news… not everyone is buying them. I follow a very authentic group of bloggers and businesses who have stayed true to themselves. I’ve seen a lot of brands grow just from following them from the very beginning. They work extremely hard, have gained a large authentic following and they have made it part of their life and career.
I know that not everyone does it, and that’s what stopped me.
When I started Status Salty I promised myself I would be REAL, HONEST AND OPEN. I told myself I would upload my life with Canon photos and with iPhone photos. That I would create great content with white, bright pictures but also show them my morning shot of olive oil with bedhead and no makeup on yet (er.. not easy, but I promised).
I wanted to document my life, to be honest, because I liked doing it. Now I love doing it. I love creating content and showing my readers things going on in my everyday routine and hearing back from them. I love giving parts of me to my readers in order to create a stronger community.
And, well, readers like honesty and realness. Readers don’t care about numbers.
That’s where I stopped myself. What do my readers care about? What do they want?
Your readers, customers, followers… they don’t care about your number. I mean, maybe some do, but most don’t. Maybe companies don’t want to work with you because you haven’t reached their standards yet, and that’s fine, that’s life. But buying a fake following to try to prove something is proving nothing. Buying your way to the top isn’t going to work, as cliche as that sounds. It, not to be insanely blunt, but.. er.. pisses me off that people do this. It’s bullshit that people out there are taking something and making it something it’s not meant to be. Pure bullshit.
What is going to work, however, is being real and authentic. The part where people give up and get frustrated? Time.
IT TAKES TIME TO PROVE YOURSELF.
You want to start a blog so bad, you want to work with brands so bad, you want to create so bad, you want to start a business so bad, you want to be the boss so bad… then work for it. A simple click of a button and a credit card isn’t going to prove shit to anyone. It is going to show a number, a very fake number, that you stare at everyday.
My point? Stop fucking caring.
I currently have a VERY authentic and real following of 1,370 people. Do I care that it’s a small number compared to others? No. Because I just began my blog a year ago, I’m not six years deep like some. It is a small number that has grown within the past six months due to new readers joining the Status Salty community that I am VERY happy to have. I’m VERY happy to be read and followed by anyone, to know that anyone out there even gives a damn about what I’m saying. I’m sure that number will go down in a few minutes because some of those followers are people sitting up at night (like I used to) following me and unfollowing me to gain attraction – which I am NOT bashing – I’m just being very blunt about my thoughts and how draining it all was. Then it will go up, then back down and then repeat. Damn bots.
Things I’ve really learned to do? Stop checking. And if you notice you get some new followers to your blog or brands page, celebrate it. Enjoy it. Take in the realness.
I use Instagram for a few things – to communicate with my readers and followers who are ACTUALLY following to read my blog and to represent and market my brand. I use it to be able to see what my readers are doing, to message them and get the chance to get to know them in some way. I use it to show my life in my stories. I don’t use it to damage my thumb and scroll through my own photos fifty thousand times a minute.
Is not checking hard? It was, yes. It was extremely hard. I had to fight the urge for a few weeks, like an addiction, and I’m dead serious. I became fully addicted and overly obsessed. But my best piece of advice for people thinking they will make it somewhere from a number is to stop and maybe just live your life for a minute.
Step back and focus more on creating and doing what you love to do. The number will come, and won’t matter as much, as you continue to work for what you want.
Again, I’m not bashing any social media. I’m giving you my thoughts on the entire process and what I’ve done in order to help myself get over the obsession. I use Instagram DAILY without stressing about a number. It is very possible.
If you are a human with Instagram, a blogger, an influencer, a business or a brand… anything along those lines… I hope you take something from this. If you are just worried about numbers, you won’t be able to focus on the real reason you’re doing what you’re doing.
What about you guys, any thoughts on this?