Instagram is either a blogger's favorite social platform or the bane of their existence. I have seen so many other bloggers stay stuck at a specific number despite putting in a strong effort to produce quality comment. There are so many complaints about the algorithm and many more courses on how to beat it.
And I have also struggled with gaining followers on Instagram. I've struggled with the comparison of myself to other people who started blogging around the same time I did. A lot of those ladies have huge followings now, which is totally deserved because of the hard work they put into it. But the “that could have been me” thoughts still creep in.
How I lost 500+ Followers on Instagram
All of these thoughts came to a head yesterday. I was watching YouTube videos while at my full-time job. I'm a social media coordinator, so I had an actual reason to be on YouTube! But I came across this video from a fellow blogger, Austen Tosone. She was explaining that part of what helped her authentically grow was deleting the spam followers that can accumulate.
In my almost 5 years of blogging, I have never checked to see if there was any spam in my followers on Instagram. So I went and looked.
I. WAS. SHOCKED.
Not only did I have a ton of spam followers, but there were also a ton of men following me. Now I have nothing against men following me on social media. The problem is that my target audience is women. My content is mainly for women. It was also a problem because they weren't actually engaging in my content.
Up until this point, the number of followers on Instagram really mattered to me. Until I saw the sheer amount of spam. I started removing people left and right. I was kind of upset. HereI was investing my time and effort into creating content and getting no return on it. So I started removing followers on Instagram that looked like spam or had inactive accounts. Once I started, I couldn't stop.
The Freedom of Losing Followers
Once I was finished, I had a momentary freakout. I went from almost 1800 followers to under 1300 in an hour. But when I saw exactly who I was losing, I was so happy. These weren't real followers. These weren't people who cared about a minimalist lifestyle, and they weren't interested in ethical and sustainable fashion. These were bots that were created to inflate influencers' following numbers. I don't want numbers. I want community.
Having 500 less “followers” that don't really care about ethical and sustainable fashion is a weight lifted off of me. I can create my content for people who really care about this topic or are interested in learning more. I've been thinking about it like this: I've Marie Kondo-ed my Instagram followers. I've kept the ones that bring me joy in hopes that I can also bring you joy with my content. If you want to be a part of that community, you can follow along here.
If you're an influencer who is struggling with comparison or trying to keep up, you're not alone. There are thousands of aspiring bloggers who want to go from 0 to 500,000 and have great engagement, but forget about the hustle it takes to get there. Your value isn't in your numbers. It's in the community you're cultivating. If that's filled with spam, you'll never have that community.
You were created with a purpose. Don't lose sight of that purpose by focusing on the number of followers on Instagram.