Instagram. We love it just as much as we love to hate it.
Cries over the algorithm, the desperation to get engagement – it’s a major bugbear for most bloggers. But is all this effort worth it?
Back in spring/summer, I conducted a little Instagram Experiment. The results were okay, I managed to improve my comments, engagement and followers a fair bit. The only problem is that it was taking lots of my time up!
Not only was it taking lots of my time up, but it wasn’t helping me grow my blog whatsoever.
Think about it, you spend time commenting, trying to get followers. You spend time taking and editing pretty pictures. You think about the caption, the hashtags you can use to get the most reach. You post away dreaming of that Instagram fame. Mostly, you are less underwhelmed by how that image bombs.
Let’s look at the truth.
Hashtags = trashtags.
Hashtags are trash. They do not attract engaged followers. They attract bots. They attract spam comments that say ‘nice dress’ on a photo of a bowl of pasta, or mindless likes from someone scrolling through the tag liking everything just to get your attention.
You’ll notice this on some hashtags more than others. The fitness and travel industry are terrible for it.
I can post, get 5 followers, a bunch of random likes, a couple crap comments that look like an absolute dog on my feed. Then the next day those followers have upped and left me in their dust while they go and do the same to the next poor sod that has picked the wrong (or right) hashtag!
You are allowed one URL in your Instagram profile. That’s it. There is no ability to link to your latest post in an Instagram post or a story (unless you have the swipe up feature that is reserved only for those with 10k followers or more and shock – you can’t get to 10k unless you pay to promote yourself or cheat).
I put a tracking URL in my Instagram bio so I can see how many people are visiting my blog from the link.
Since the 1st January 2018 and the 4th November 2018 guess how many page views I’ve had from it?
65 users. 88 sessions. In 10 months. That’s not even 10 a month!
Well, a lot of people cheat.
There is a blogger that lives near me. She has lovely photos. She has high engagement and likes. I noticed that the same people are posting on her pictures. I asked one of the people who commented on every post why she does. I wanted to know what caused her to comment on everything – what keeps her coming back for more.
I sat back and got ready for some juicy information that could help me with my own Instagram marketing strategy.
What did I get back?
Oh, I’m in a comment pod with her. She’s in loads.
Another example of why Instagram is trash.
You look up to people with high engagement and comments. You look at their feed and see what makes it different to yours. See what golden nuggets you can take away from their success.
Then you find out they’re cheating the system.
Their engagement is fake. The value they are promising brands is fake. The inspiration they are giving to their followers is fake. The problem is, so many bloggers use engagement pods these days it can feel like if you don’t, you are losing out. Although brands are becoming wise to this tactic – it’s just not worth it.
Once you’re cheating on Instagram, it’s hard to stop. You’re trapped because as soon as you stop using bots, comment threads, pods and the likes your engagement skydives and you are just left looking like a bit of a twat.
Instagram wants you to pay.
It’s exactly what happened on Facebook. Remember when a Facebook page could drive traffic to your blog? Then they faffed with the algorithm and stopped showing posts unless you promoted them.
This is exactly what Facebook has done to Instagram. Since it bought the platform, it’s ruining it just like it did with Facebook.
But because there are already so many people using it, so many people that have spent their time growing a following, they stay.
We can hope that one day Instagram gives us what we want. A nice chronological feed that shows you the photos of everyone you follow.
But no, what we get is a few posts from 3 days ago and lots of crap advertising videos that auto-play at the most inconvenient time. It’s just rude.
Other platforms add more value.
In terms of sending traffic to your blog, you want to try platforms like Twitter and Pinterest. With a bit of effort and consistency, you will start to see some traffic being driven to your blog.
What I use Instagram for.
I still post daily, comment on what I like and like everything in my feed that I love. I also use stories. But it’s purely for fun and not as a marketing tool.