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The Truth About Instagram

That’s probably a bit of a click-baity headline isn’t it, and to be honest it’s not really my style. It’s also not really my style to talk here about the business side of things in blogging and ‘influencing’ but in light of recent events, one being the ‘expose’ video by beauty blogger Chloe Morello (watch it here) I thought I’d just talk about a few things in regards to how I engage on Instagram.

How do I get followers?

The old fashioned way. It’s basically like making friends. You might put a photo up, someone likes it. They might follow you. Or I might follow someone else, and they follow me back. Do I pay for this ever? No.

What would be the point in paying for followers? It’s like paying for friends. They’re not your real friends, are they? Why would you want them to follow you? Where’s the trust in that? I don’t get it.

How do I get likes?

I put up a photo, sometimes people like it, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I like the photo but people who follow me don’t. Sometimes I take an extra great pic and people like it and it gets heaps of people looking at it and they like it. Sometimes I post at a great time when everyone’s scrolling their phones while watching Netflix and a pic gets lots of likes. Do I ever pay for this? No. Once again, I don’t see the point. It’s like paying for compliments – they don’t mean anything because you’re paying for someone to say it.

How do I make money?

Sponsored posts, where a company sponsors my post about their product, or affiliate marketing. (This means if I post something then post a link on my blog which means if you click to buy I might earn a small commission from the sale.)

I only accept payment for posts about things I truly love, would buy myself, or have bought before. What I would recommend to a friend. Why would I risk losing that trust of the friends I have made by posting about dodgy products?

What does ‘gifted’ mean and how do I get gifted items?

When I say ‘gifted’ about an item, it means the company provided the product to me for editorial consideration. How do I get these items and why? A few years ago I started posting my everyday outfits on Instagram. And people followed along. After a while, some boutiques and online stores started following me and offered me pieces from their collections to wear in these posts. If I love it, I wear it in my posts. Personally, I prefer seeing new season fashion items in real everyday photos rather than studio shots so I assume there are others that like seeing these – and that’s what the fashion companies like, too. And of course, you might see it, like it and buy it. I have bought many things I’ve seen others wearing or using on Instagram – it’s replaced fashion magazines for me.

What are comment pods?

I’ve been part of comment pods before, usually with a group of 5-6 of my Insta pals. We’ve done it trough Instagram and I’ve found it’s basically like notifying your friends: “I have a new post, so please go check it out and let me know what you think”. It’s not paying for anything, and in my opinion it’s not fake if you’re genuinely friends or interested in what the others are posting. The big pod groups Chloe is talking about I’ve been invited into but why would you – once again, it’s FAKE.

The truth

There are many people out there buying followers, likes and comments because in my view they simply cannot be bothered putting in the hard yards to make real connections, real engagement and gaining trust. They buy followers and likes as they want instant results. And some companies are throwing products and money at them because their numbers are big. To a person who studied marketing at uni, this makes exactly zero sense to me. It’s fake, it’s shallow and I would be surprised if it actually garners results or sales. In marketing, the holy grail is word of mouth – which to me is Instagram. It’s real people using your products and telling their followers and friends about it. If you’re paying people without real ‘friends’ to say something nice about your product, what results will that gain? Will that sell your product?

I’ve never spent a single cent in an effort to gain followers or likes on instagram. (I’ve ‘boosted’ {sponsored} three photos on Facebook before, two of them were part of a paid sponsorship agreement. This means Facebook ‘shows’ your photo to more people.) If I post a pic on Instagram which gets low engagement, I know it’s because of a few factors 1) the photo was crap (although I might have thought it was great, haha!), 2) timing was off; or 3) no one saw it because of the algorithm. It just makes me put a bit more effort in and if I’m struggling to keep up, I tell my followers and clients. It’s about trust and disclosure.

I don’t want to lose trust, why would I, when I’ve spent so much time gaining it. For every item I feature, there’s at least another that I’ve declined to feature because I don’t like it. Or I don’t think it’s a good deal.

Yes, being on social media is fun. I get to play with new clothes and things, events are great and I get to be creative and be paid for it. But, it’s bloody hard work. It’s Every. Single. Day. It’s consistency. It’s looking ‘good’ when I sometimes can’t be bothered. It’s telling brands ‘no thanks’ when I’m a ‘yes’ person at heart. It’s commenting and following and liking and loving and maintaining. But I love it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And for the last part – the friends I’ve made through blogging and social media are my friends for life.

So, that’s the truth. Where are you at on the whole Instagram situation?

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