The numbers game is up.
For years I've had a LOT of followers on my Instagram. I used to think that these followers were loving my content - hanging on to my curated images with joy and delight. Being wowed by the creative and visual beauty of my work.
I have to be honest - I don't know HOW I even have that many. They built up over time. I assumed they were just organic followers.
5 years ago it was different. I would post stuff - then get a few hundred new followers a week and all was great, but then things changed. Instagram changed. Snapchat happened. Instagram Stories happened, Facebook rules the world and all that was working fine now has ground to a sudden halt.
Engagement levels are low - and now people are noticing. 'how come you have 25 thousand followers but only a few hundred likes' I hear? Answer is I honestly don't know.
I know I don't really try hard enough though - I am terrible at hashtags and not great at updating my feed as much as I should.
My photographic styles have changed with my use of social media too - and I like to think Instagram is like a scrap book of my work. I used to use it to 'dump' stuff into but now I use stories for that and then my main feed as a more curated look at what I'm up to in my personal and professional life.
This week, I decided to sort through my followers and gradually get rid of ones that clearly have no idea who the hell I am. Why do I need them there anymore? Whoever they are?
Social media has matured. People are not as interested in you just because of the pure bulk of your followers. Anyone can have millions of followers but if only 1 in 10000 interact with you, it's more damaging to you and your brand than if you had 500 followers with 300 interactions. The numbers game is pointless.
Instagram keep deciding what they want as their algorithms and it's impossible to know what they are going to do and what they have done until it's too late. They can hide your profile from stuff - 'shadow-ban' your posts so the hashtags don't appear where you think they will appear, etc etc.
I've already shed a couple of thousand of followers in the last few hours. I'm running some filters that are blocking and getting rid of people that have NEVER even liked or commented on a single thing I've done. I'm also culling users that have no bio on their profile. It's just a way to try and cut through the crap to the proper audience.
From a PR point of view, sure the initial 'bugger me they have thousands of followers' is soon followed by 'ah but the content isn't great and there's very little interaction'. People are wising up.
I might regret doing this, but right now it feels like I'm having a Spring clean. Dusting out my profile ready to use the social networks with more accuracy and relevance. It's really not just about size.
See you all on the (slightly slimmer) side. If you want to follow me - please do (but say hello also!)