A Love and Hate Affair with Instagram

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Do you have a rocky relationship with Instagram? Are you having a love and hate affair with Instagram?

Why are you posting on Instagram?

If it’s primarily to promote yourself and gain thousands of followers because you thrive from attention, this blog post is not for you.

If you’re looking for someone to validate the follow/unfollow game you play or are thinking of playing, this post is not for you.

If buying followers is the goal, this post is also not for you. Move on.

If you can relate to having a love and hate affair with Instagram, perhaps this post is for you.

A love and hate affair with instagram | blog post cover

A Love and Hate Affair With Instagram

My Instagram Affair

For a few years, I have gone through my ups and downs with Instagram. It’s been a tumultuous affair. We went through our honeymoon period and after a year and a half of posting, we now have a love and hate relationship. One moment I’m in love and then next, I’m ready to throw my phone.

I’ve tried to do everything Instagram wanted from me.

  • I’ve posted some beautiful travel photos that I’ve edited with my favorite presets.
  • I’ve come out of my shell and from behind the camera to capture more photos of myself than I have ever had in years, just to share with my followers.
  • I have shared personal stories, tips, and more about myself than I ever imagined doing when I first signed up. As an introvert, it’s not easy to put myself out there, but I have.
  • I have tried to figure out the algorithm and play the game of posting at the exact same time every day.
  • I have liked, shared, and commented on other profiles.
  • I have uploaded daily stories and reached out to fellow Instagrammers on theirs.
  • I have commented on the top 10 hashtags that I follow.
  • I have also participated in many Facebook follow threads.

And yet, after all of this, I’m still hovering around 2500 followers after over 2 years. Gaining about 10 follows (sometimes more) a day to only lose 10 or more the next day.

Am I telling you any of this because I regret my time as a blogger on Instagram? No, because I’ve evolved. I’ve learned what I’m capable of and what more I can do with my brand. I’m still learning and I have ways to go!

I’ve gained more confidence in front of the camera and for once, I have photographs of myself that I can look back on. And now I know for sure that I prefer to be more behind the camera than in front of it. But at the same time, I do enjoy seeing pretty pictures of myself.

This doesn’t mean I’m a different person or I’m conforming to expectations. At the end of the day, what I post to Instagram speaks for ME, my personality, my brand, and what I’m comfortable with.

The Number of Followers…

Consistency on Instagram is rewarding whether you win or lose at its mind-numbing game. You may be dumbstruck right about now and asking, HOW do you think you are winning? You’re only at 2500 followers and nowhere near 10k!

Well, first I can admit that I no longer am as consistent on Instagram as I was used to. For the time that I was 98.9% always on the gram, it definitely taught me what it meant to really be dedicated.

I just choose to now take my precious time and dedicate it to other aspects of my blogging world. Imagine the number of blog posts and other amazing things I could have accomplished by not focusing so much on my numbers on the gram.

The number of followers you have doesn’t matter.

At the end of the day -for me- it’s not about that magic number. It’s about connecting with the followers I do have that truly enjoy what I have to offer. Hopefully, as I gain followers, they stick around because they want to, not because they just want my follow. 

My followers remain at a steady 2400 to 2500 followers, and that’s okay. No, really, it is! I have realized what is important to me and what is not. Having an unhealthy relationship with a platform that is one-sided is not for me. I rather keep things between us on my terms.

What do You Hate about Instagram?

If you’ve read this far, it’s because you can relate and you understand that Instagram is frustrating. I mean, pull out your hairs and stomp on your phone, frustrating. It is far from the perfect platform! Not that there is one, but we wish Instagram got their shit together sometimes.

Here is what I hate about IG…

The games

Especially, the follow/unfollow. If you’re going to follow me for a follow back to then unfollow me hours later, DON’T FOLLOW ME. That’s just RUDE. Stop wasting my time and other people’s time.

The bots / fake accounts

Enough said. As it is we have to deal with rude Instagrammers trying to gain our follow without even giving our account a chance to wow them. We have no time or patience to deal with bot accounts or comments.

The mean spirited Instagrammers

People are not only rude but mean. There is a real ‘mean people’ mentality that you can easily get sucked into. Be kind. Kindness always wins. Don’t forget, there is a human being on the other side of these accounts. If you do not like them, their content, and or they do not fit your bill, unfollow them. No need to be a bully.

The creepy old men that slide into my DM

Yes, I block them! The grossest part is when they claim to want to meet me to shower me with diamonds and trips around the world. Yeah, no thanks. I’m married. My husband and I take each other around. And hubby knows I prefer chocolates to diamonds.

The pressure

The pressure we put on ourselves to reach 10k followers because we somehow need that swipe up feature. Instagram, you no longer need to hold it over my head! Personally, I’m over it.

The unnecessary competition

I did not start Instagramming to compete with anyone. We will rise faster together, not against each other.

Unrealistic content without disclosures

Once upon a time, I used to be a great photoshop manipulator. (Those days are behind me. It’s been so long that I open photoshop now and fear it.) So when I see content that’s obviously photoshopped, I think there should be some sort of disclosure. Why? Because some people can be gullible and ignorant.

Irresponsible influencers

This is a can of worms I have no interest in opening. Everyone has their own opinions on this. Some I agree with and some I don’t because I am one to “live and let live”.

However, there are influencers that do not realize that their actions can cause a chain reaction and hurt certain places, people, and things. Sometimes I do not even think they care about anything else but the number of followers they are going to gain after they post.

Blog Resources

Here are some of our favorite blog resources we use to run this blog.

What to Love About Instagram?

My love affair with Instagram did not start when I decided to be a blogger. Far from it! I’ve been a part of the community for years. I have a completely separate and private account that I post personal pictures.

Yes, I am a selfie poster that loves to share what she’s eating and how cute my dogs are. Damn right, you better believe I’m showing off when I’m on the beach on vacation.

Of course, this is my private account for my friends and family. I just had no idea there were accounts as influencers and bloggers out there sharing this sort of content for a living until I started researching travel blogging. I found a whole new world!

I am a visual person. The content and photography will always be number one for me. It’s why my Facebook presence is minimal and my Twitter engagement is low. No matter how frustrating Instagram is, I am drawn to it.

I truly enjoy photography, positive quotes, and cool illustrations. I genuinely love to see what everyone is cooking, drinking, and reading. As someone that loves to travel, the photos shared from around the world are inspiring and they make my day. 

I simply love seeing the world through other people’s eyes, whether you’re a professional photographer, an influencer, or someone on their yearly vacation. And if it’s a photo of you, your smile may actually make my day. 

I love to read through inspiring captions, especially, those with uplifting positive messages. I get excited about cool travel tips and great travel stories. Amusing tales that will provide me with a daily laugh. Hey, I love cute animal pictures!

Do I agree with everything posted on Instagram? No way! We all have our own way of doing things and as long as you’re not causing harm to yourself or to anyone, I scroll on.

Just don’t be riding an elephant or I will judge you. (HUGE HINT: Do not ride the elephant!) Also, respect your surroundings and don’t be reckless because that just means you’re influencing someone else to do the exact same thing. 

Photos do not need to be edited for me to appreciate them. They do not need to fit within a theme. Yet, this is what people are looking for. 

I can’t deny that there is an aesthetic appeal to the eye when you come across a pretty feed. Just being honest. That doesn’t mean you have to follow along. For me, it’s fun to connect with my artistic side. Long ago, I used to be obsessed with photoshop and loved graphic design. I can appreciate created content.

As an introvert, engagement is my downfall! Totally admit it. It is one of the most important parts of Instagram and I definitely do not reach whatever level of engagement is expected, but do you think I care? Nope. Not one bit. Do I love that engagement of any kind is expected? YES. I didn’t before, but I do now!

I appreciate the fact that it forces me out of my comfort zone and I’m not an Instagram ghost or lurker. I am grateful for the Instagram friends I’ve made through social media because without communication within the comments or DM, we would never have virtually met.

Engagement is key! It’s fun to virtually meet people from different parts of the world that share similar interests. If all I did was hit ‘like’ and move on, I’d be missing out on some great friendships and collaborations.

I love stories! If I had more time in the day, I’d post more stories. I used to not like posting stories, but thanks to the encouragement of a few lovely bloggers, I realized after some time I do enjoy sharing stories. It’s actually more fun than posting. I also love watching everyone else’s stories. Don’t be afraid to share!

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8 Instagram Survival Tips

Since this post is not the normal social media post, I decided to stay consistent and write some tips that have nothing to do with hashtags, captions, or how to gain 10 million followers. You can find those blog posts all over Pinterest and some of them can actually help you grow your Instagram.

These are survival tips to help keep you sane during your unstable affair with Instagram. There will be times you will need an Instagram break and when you do, remember these tips.

  1. Stay true to yourself. Your feed is a representation of who you are and what you believe in. Do what fits you.
  2. Be responsible and mindful. The moment you’re profile is public and you have a following of even one real person, you have a responsibility. What you share may influence your following.
  3. You are allowed to grow and evolve as you see fit. If you have a vision, go for it.
  4. Don’t pay attention to negative comments. Block. Delete. Report if you have to. Not everyone is going to love what you post and that’s okay. You will find your audience.
  5. Support others. Engage. Comment on posts. Support endeavors. The number of followers you have does not matter. It’s the relationship you create with the followers you already do have. Focus on them.
  6. Be open to other people’s advice. Make sure that whatever you do makes you happy.
  7. Don’t be a jerk. This one is so important! Seriously people! We are humans (bots not included) sitting behind our profiles. Don’t be a jerk.
  8. Have fun! Don’t take this too seriously. I know for some of you Instagram is part of your job and it’s why you work your ass off. BUT, if you’re not having fun doing it and you feel as though you’re slaving over it… why bother?

Like with everything else on my blog, this is solely my opinion and my experience.

I’d love to hear yours in the comments! Tell me what’s all about your love and hate affair with Instagram.


Don’t forget to share the love on Pinterest:

Instagram tips

When I’m not daydreaming about my next vacation, drinking coffee, or playing with my dogs, you can find me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook for more posts and stories! Would love to hear from you!

34 thoughts on “A Love and Hate Affair with Instagram”

  1. I love this post! I’m on limited WiFi but I just wanted to say, it’s perfect! Also love the hat ad and Pinterest pin. I’ll be back for my real comment later. Lol Just thought you should know ??

    Reply
  2. Love, love, loved this read! (Also, major kudos for the design of the header image!) My favorite line (and a part that really spoke to me) was: “This doesn’t mean I’m a different person or I’m conforming to expectations.” As you know, this is something I’ve battled with myself, especially after starting to work with brands. I also love how you said it’s about connections, not numbers. I cannot deny that numbers are important to me as I’m looking to monetize and gain new opportunities, but the connections I’ve made on here have been the absolute best part of my time investment. Thank you so much for shedding light on an important topic (and one that is on my mind daily). Great work!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much! Means a lot. You know how I feel.

      One connection the gram can’t take credit for is OURS. We met via Pinterest. If I hadn’t clicked on that pin, commented on your blog post and you hadn’t reached out, don’t think we’d be friends now, 😉

      Reply
    • The downsides do suck, they really do. If I were to focus on alone, I’d be in a bad mood all the time. HA. Seriously though, the gram is like having a toxic boyfriend. I prefer to be in a healthy relationship rather than one that screws with my moods and emotions all the time. It’s not worth it. In real life, I’d kick this toxic bf to the curb and not look back. Since it’s just social media, I can simply ignore the BS, focus on what I love about it and continue putting out positive energy. =)

      Reply
  3. Yes! Oh my god I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram too! So many frustrating things about it, but ultimately, I agree, I just want to relax, do my own thing, and enjoy! Connect with awesome people like you and it’s all good! Rise together that’s for sure!!!
    Love this! Thank you for writing what many of us have been thinking. ❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  4. Tip #1 is my favorite: Stay true to yourself.
    My IG profile was private for the longest time so it stayed very small and cozy and was limited to people I knew IRL. When I started my blog 7 months ago, I changed it to a public profile. Maybe the fact that I am new to a public profile means that I haven’t been trained to watch the numbers, but I enjoy following and engaging with my 200 or so followers. That’s a small number but I love the quality of content that appears in my feed.
    When it’s all said and done, I will continue to stay true to myself!

    Reply
  5. I agree with many of your points, but I especially hate the follow/unfollow game so many users play. As soon as I see an account that calls out unfollows in its bio I’m wary of following them as I feel like they might just be using Instagram for the fame game or not really care about their content or followers as long as they’re reached that 10k mark. I think a successful Insta presence means sharing content you enjoy, engaging with others, and like you said, have fun! I look at it like a community, we all support each other and value the time it took to create the content or take the photo. 🙂

    Reply
    • You’re so right! Sharing content you enjoy, engaging and having fun is the core of having successful insta presence. I think so many miss this point and it’s important to be reminded. As frustrating as it is, there are a lot of pluses to being part of the community and supporting each other.

      Reply
  6. You spoke sooo much truth in this post!!!!!!!! Every single word! I agree Instagram can be a huge pain in the neck but it can also be fun to engage and discover new people, ideas and things!

    Reply
    • Thank you! I had written this post 2 weeks ago and sat on it so I can think about it some more before revising it a bit. I was nervous to post and cause drama, but in reality, I just want to steer people into a positive direction instead of getting wrapped up in the negative. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Kathy, I knew when I saw that you had written a post Instagram that I would love it. I knew when I saw the tittle ‘A love and hate affair with Instagram’ that I’d resonate with it. Instagram is a tough nut to crack and I think most of us can agree that it often takes up way to much of our valuable time. The Instagram game is easy to become a victim of. The platform at times drives me crazy & I often feel like I get obsessed with it! I’m guilty of studying the gorgeous feeds out there and putting myself down. But recently like you I had a little bit of an Instagram breakthrough deciding that I’m not going to let it suck me in. I stopped editing every single photograph, like you I love being create and actually enjoy the editing process! But it can take time and sometimes we just don’t have enough of it! So when I don’t have time I’ve stoppes editing and just posted a great photograph from our life or travels. & you’ll never guess what? My engagement has increased from this small step!

    There has been a lot of discussion lately that Instagram is focusing more towards creating an authentic presence. Giving accounts that show real life more chance to grow rather than the pretty photographs that have been manipulated to within an inch of their life!

    Also as a travel blogger I think we need to be conscious of how much we edit! We are promoting the amazing places of the world and should be doing so truthfully, if the sea wasn’t aqua blue where you visited don’t make it! It may disappoint people!

    Those things said I love how visual the platform is and adore gorgeous photographs of travel and just real life! I also love getting to know people via their stories! Like the time the lady gave you some shoes! That story reminded me that kindness does always win!

    Great post Kathy & very wise!
    Alicia

    Reply
    • Hey Alicia! Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. I love that you loved it and was able to relate it.

      I have to be honest, editing the photos to me is always a breeze and the part that I enjoy the most. So for me, it’s something that I look forward to doing. What stops me from posting daily? Captions! I rarely know what to say besides where I am and what we’re doing. So sometimes I wait for inspiration to strike me before I post. I sometimes wish it was the other way around that I had so much to say that I just type away what I need to say and then just a picture that coincides with it without editing. That’s just not me. I love the visual aspect of it all.

      Now I do agree about people going overboard with their presets and like making water another color than it is. It’s one of my peeves when I edit. However, I will say that most of the times what I photographed looks NOTHING like what I experienced and remember, the dullness depresses me because I want the photo to be as grand as I remember the place being. I think Lightroom works really well to accomplish this. I guess there is a fine line for travel bloggers, but there is a difference between content creators that edit for the art of it all. Photography is a form of art. That’s mostly how I see it.

      I can’t speak for anyone else, but I will always be honest in my blogs and captions about what I experienced. Traveling is not all rosy.

      And omg, those shoes! They actually saved my night one day when I needed fancy flats for a night out. Totally saved me. Now I’m gonna pay it forward and hand over the shoes to someone else who does need them.

      Thanks again! So happy we found each other in this community.

      Reply
  8. Love this! I also have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. I do enjoy seeing peoples photos, especially travelers, food bloggers, etc, but I also hate how elitist it is at times. I agree that the follow/unfollow game is incredibly annoying, especially when trying to grow your followers. Wonderful tips. Staying true to yourself is so important, and not just on Instagram, but everywhere in life.

    Reply
    • Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting! I do agree about it being elitist sometimes and that sort of crowd is just not for me. That’s why I focus on doing my own thing. You’re right, we have to stay true to ourselves in everything in life.

      Reply
  9. I’m so bummed that my original comment never posted. Darn it! Like where did it go WordPress?! Where?!

    I think my biggest struggle with IG is that right now it is oversaturated with bloggers and business owners all trying to do the same thing. I am one of them so I totally get it. This can be great, but it also leads to a lot of shade, F/UF, and selfish tactics/intent. I think my goal for 2019 is to attract the non-business people and bloggers to my account. Don’t get me wrong: some of them are great for networking and connections. I learn a lot and have built a blogging community. But, I also want people who are interested in my content as consumers, travelers, and just fun users. Those are the people who stick around, check out blog posts, purchase items, and are the real trusted, targeted audience. How we find and attract users like this, though, is seemingly impossible lately. Even they want to be an IGer.

    I’m definitely trying to figure out how much time I want to spend on the platform in 2019. It is a huge time commitment if you want it to be a larger part of your business model. I am not sure if sponsorships and brand work is really the way that I want to go (although I occasionally accept an offer that is fitting with my values). I also don’t have the time or willingness to post the required every day. I’d need an assistant for that to keep up with engagement. AND REAL engagement is SO important to me.

    I also decided at the end of 2018 to unfollow accounts who were not aligned with my business and personal values; there is just some content that I can never get on board with–which is fine if I don’t have to see it/support it/have it connected to my community. I’ve watched a lot of people slide into roles to make money, and while I’m not ready to get trolled again or have that debate, it’s just not for me. I will find other ways. As a world traveler and US Fulbright scholar, I struggle to see the way we portray cultures and the world nowadays–so travel blogging and travel influencing have really made that an interesting scene that I haven’t figured out how to swallow yet. We know that sometimes I want to barf it ALL up. LOL.

    I always wonder what the future of IG will hold. I read somewhere that for every 1 person that gives up or leaves the platform, 11 more join. I have seen huge bloggers decide to delete their accounts. It’s terribly interesting.

    For now, I plan to have nothing to do with the recent wave of bullies (some of my book friends have been getting trolled and not just kindly left alone or having a sensible debate for their book opinions. WTF!!). People are destroying people for opinions they don’t like but then fail to realize that their opinion is just that too. I also plan on unfollowing content that makes me sad for the travel world and is against my values. I hope to keep my account true to me regardless of brands–you saw my upcoming brand pic haha–and I really just want to focus on my blog. I will continue to put out solid content with captions that I spend time on, but I’m not going to go wild.

    With buying followers, soliciting followers in FB groups, and secret pods, IG might see huge changes in the future anyway.

    Great post!

    Reply
    • I was recently thinking similar, wondering where are all the non-blogger followers? How do we get them?

      I really don’t know where IG is going, but it is only going to be more popular, just like FB. I remember thinking so many times it would go away and it has only gained popularity as a free platform.

      Primarily focusing on the blog and the content you provide definitely should be the priority. IG is just an extension of it for you. While some influencers, their entire lives revolve around IG, their followers, and their numbers. If IG was to go away, they are screwed. We just have to keep looking at IG as a small part of a bigger picture.

      Reply
      • That’s what I always wondered too: I almost just decided to dedicate everything to IG in the very beginning…I’m sure I could be decently successful if I was on the dang platform full-time. BUT, what if IG goes away or transforms? Unlikely, but that was not a chance that I was willing to take. Look at MySpace. I do think FB is struggling too–and there was an article about how IG is slowly going to almost completely replace FB. Not sure if it’s true, but the thought is now in my mind. Google Plus crapped out of the running…you just never quite know. I always learned that you need to have multiple eggs in multiple baskets. lol

        Reply
  10. This is such a great article! We’ve been noticing a lot of disillusionment among the travel community lately when it comes to Instagram. Sometimes it feels like you just can’t win with this app! We used to do the same things you mentioned: post every day, interact, etc. but now we’ve let go of that pressure and are taking a more relaxed approach. It’s definitely sooo much better for our mental health to not agonize over who is following/unfollowing. Thanks for putting so well into words this frustration!

    Reply
    • Hi Katie! I appreciate the comments! When I first wrote this post, I was basically spitting out all my thoughts and feelings onto a page after seeing so much turmoil online over Instagram. I didn’t understand why we are letting a social media platform mess with our hearts and minds, but then I remembered I am one of them I wasn’t sure if I ever was going to post it, but after another draft, I felt I needed to share because so many of us need to learn to really to take a step back and breathe. Instagram is so much easier to deal with when we’re not obsessing over it. =)

      Reply
  11. I feel ya sis!! I did social media for foks in past and quickly learned that IG is a fickle beyotch. Love this post. Your writing is divine and we have been Twitter friends for awhile and could have sworn I was following you here too. Playing catch up as I have read some of your posts before and I thought I had liked them too!:) So when you get a mil notifications from me today, they are legit. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Dee – Thank you for your lovely comments and for stopping by. I can’t imagine having to do social media for others. I’d be frustrated all the time. HA.

      Reply
  12. Hi Kathy, reading this post was an absolute breath of fresh air!
    Before I started blogging, I really loved going on Instagram for fun – there was always so much inspiration to be found. Of course, Instagram is still that in many ways, but I’ve found that as a blogger, it has become a real burden. And I think you and Christine make great points about wondering what Instagram’s future holds. While it looks like it’s going to go very strong for quite some time yet, at the end of the day, it’s still simply a social media platform – and each social media platform has its day!

    Reply
  13. You are so right. Who knows where IG will be 10 years from now. Which is why it’s so important to focus on our blogs. From the beginning, I focused more on IG than my blog and it was fun at first, but then it just started to feel like a chore and stressful. Also worrying about what pics to take or not take while I’m trying to enjoy my time away. No thanks! I now have a new perspective. I do believe achieving greatness on IG is possible, just not where my head is at right now. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Let’s see what the future holds for this platform!

    Reply
  14. Everyone who wants to start an IG page for their blog/business should read this post. As you know, IG can be such an exhausting platform, so I appreciate your tips. I’m definitely not going to bother getting worked up over it! It takes the fun away from blogging and, besides, we have way more fun on Twitter anyway! Thanks for posting

    Reply
    • Thanks so for reading! It is possible to be successful on IG, but I think everyone needs to ask themselves, at what cost? You know? I can’t post daily and I don’t have it in me at the present time to be on top of it just because it NEEDS attention. I have a job and other responsibilities. So at this point, IG just needs to sit on the sidelines until I feel like posting and I keep it fun. As long as I continue having fun with it, that’s what matters. I agree Twitter is definitely a different ball game.

      Reply
  15. I think all bloggers relate to this so much! It is a constant battle to stay up and generate a decent following. No WiFi one day = lose 20 followers. It really is a vicious cycle but much like you, I love the visual nature of the gram. I just wish brands knew the importance of engagement over numbers!

    Reply
    • I know it may not seem like it, but I think brands are starting to see the importance of engagement over numbers. There is a shift happening. I see a few micro-influencers currently working with big brands and while their following is small, they are engaged. So it is possible. Don’t give up.

      I hear you about losing followers. It’s so frustrating, but the truth is at the end of the day, those followers weren’t going to be real followers. They were just looking for that follow back. So good riddance. I think the people that we should be trying to reach are non-bloggers that we can serve.

      Thanks for reading. So glad you can relate too!

      Reply

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